What you need to know:
- Nation Sport spent a whole week interacting with various sportsmen and women in the Turkana region and today, we feature Rael Lomoti who wears several hats as a coach, referee, player, sports administrator and a mother at the same time
- Turkana is rich in sports talent but budding sports men and women but lack necessary facilities and financial support from stakeholders to rise to the next level
She is a coach, referee, player, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) women’s representative and a mother at the same time.
And that she has successfully balanced all these roles is amazing.
We tracked down Rael Lomoti to her at Kutukuro village home, some 50 kilometres from Lodwar on the Lodwar-Lokichogio road.
We find her helping her parents with their daily chores.
Nation and NTV Kenya Sports desk spent a whole week interacting with various sports and women in the region and today we feature on Lomoti who wears several hats.
As we arrive Lodwar approximately 700km from Nairobi, the reality hits that we are in a hot dry area where dehydration is the order of the day and one needs to take water every now and then.
Donned in her traditional regalia commonly worn by the Turkana community, she ushers us into one of the manyatta’s as we cool down from the scotching sun with the temperatures rising up to 38 degrees Celsius.
Their home is surrounded by beautiful hills known as ‘Ngakoriak’ which means the hills normally shine when the sun is setting.
The world has been going through tough times due to the Covid-19 pandemic and currently sports has been suspended in Kenya due to a surge in the number of new infections.
This has led to many of the sports men and women who always depend on the sport to put food on the table going hungry, with many opting to go back to the roots.
Turkana has been always associated with rough terrain and harsh weather conditions but on the other hand it hand, it has produced some of the world beaters which we shall feature in our series.
Despite the suspension on sports, youths in the region are tempted to visit and play football despite the danger they are exposing themselves to.
This according to them, is better than engaging in drug abuse which many youths have taken to due to idleness.
It is a region rich in talent and many sports men and women have the potential but lack facilities and support from various stakeholders.
Is Lomoti God sent to the region after she was elected FKF women representative in Turkana County?
Born on July 25, 1994, Lomoti went to Gachoro Primary School in Juja, Kiambu County up to Class Eight.
Upon completing standard eight, she joined Chania Girls High School up to Form Two before she transferred to Mumo Girls High School due to her talent on football.
Her career was boosted by Dominican Sisters who used to see her play, and soon gave her scholarship through to university. She graduated from Mt Kenya University in 2016 with a Diploma in Social Work and Community Development.
Having started playing football at an early age, Lomoti enjoyed the game because she hailed from a hot region where one would only play in the evenings. Changing of environment proved tough but she finally managed to adapt.
Perfection in the game came as she continued playing for her school where she was identified by Gaspo Women Football Club which currently plays in the Kenya Women’s Premier League. The team recruited her at the age of 16.
“I used to play well but I didn’t know that there were people scouting for talent during various games. That’s how Gaspo Women Football Club identified me and I joined their camp,” says Lomoti.
She reveals that it was a tricky affair balancing between her career and education but she had to give her best in both.
“I used to do well in class and in the sport and I wanted to be one of the stars which prompted me to work hard despite the challenges back home. I used to ask for permission over the weekends to join the team for tournaments,” she said.
In her community, it was a rare to see a woman playing football and even fewer knew that the sport can help improve livelihoods. She is thankful to her parents who gave her a chance to pursue sports and always encouraged her to work hard.
“It was hard to find a girl playing football in our community but I thank my parents because they gave me the opportunity to exploit my talent. The region is rich of talent and there is need to support women in this region to realise their dreams,” urges Lomoti.
Upon finishing secondary school education, she joined the club full time as a striker. She played actively for seven years before heading back home.
“I played for Gaspo for almost seven years and there is a time I joined Thika Queens Football Club but I didn’t stay long there. I went back to my team again until 2017 when I decided to go back home,” she adds.
She says her career came with a lot of challenges that local sportswomen face due to lack of funding.
“Funding for women’s teams in Kenya is something that needs to be addressed. You can’t compare local teams with the ones abroad which have everything they need, including good training facilities. Women who play football face a lot of problems. With good pay, they would be able to meet their needs,” she says.
She went back home again and due to the harsh conditions, she could only train in the evenings.
Her mission was to help young girls develop their talents and she saw a good number turn up in the evening for training.
She also targeted secondary school graduates who were well conversant with each other. That is how Desert Roses Women Football Club was conceived.
“There was no women’s football league in Turkana when I came back. I saw the gap and started to recruit girls who had potential in the game. I started a team called Desert Roses. With senior and junior teams, we started playing in 2018,” reveals Lomoti.
The formation of the team coincided with the founding of Islamic Football Club, and the two teams started competing in various tournaments but they often struggled due to lack of proper training facilities and inadequate funding.
Lomoti says she has great passion for football, something which keeps her going during difficult times.
“I know what football can do. I would have given up long time ago but I have seen what the sport can do so I will soldier on. I won’t give up until I accomplish my mission of helping girls exploit their talents in this region,” she adds.
Although many women teams have come up in Turkana County after Desert Roses FC, Lomoti will not rest until the women players in the region get a tournament that will help improve their lives.
Apart from Desert Warriors FC, other teams that have been formed in the county include, Islamic Women FC and Home Girls Women FC.
This is what inspired Lomoti to run for election as FKF women representative in Turkana County so as to use the position to help women realise their dreams.
“Being the first occupant of the office, I want to make sure that the girls in this region are recognised. We need a Sports Bill to streamline our operations because we are still under the ministry of education. It is my first assignment to ensure that we run football independently,” she says.
She also urges Turkana County government to set up talent academies in the region and to build good playing grounds to help nurture football talent from the grassroots level.
According to her father Barnabas Eloloi, Lomoti has a bright future and with help of financiers, she stands a good chance of helping grow the sport in the region.
“I’m happy that we have managed to support our girl up to where she has reached and she is one of the people we look up to take the sport to the next level, given the necessary support,” says Eloloi.
Her mother Veronica Eloloi tells us that she didn’t know her daughter will one day become someone to be sought by the media.
“I’m so happy for my girl because she is really doing well and I didn’t know she will get this far. Seeing her helping other girls nurture their talent makes me feel contented and I have given her my full blessings,” says her mother.