Deaflympics: Team Kenya steal show at opening ceremony

Team Kenya for Deaflympics

A section of Team Kenya at the 24th Summer Deaflympics in Brazil pose for a photo in their traditional regalia before the Games opening ceremony at Sesi Sport Center on May 1.

Photo credit: Pool | Team Kenya

What you need to know:

  • The colourful event took place on Sunday night at Sesi Sports Centre in Caxias Do Sul, the Games’ host city
  • The about 20 athletes, who represented the entire Team Kenya during the parade of nations, thrilled the crowd with their traditional, Maasai attire that displayed Kenya’s rich and unique culture
  • Kenya will Monday at 6pm start her medal hunt at the championships when the national women’s deaf handball team squares it out with Turkey

Team Kenya at the 24th Summer Deaflympics in Brazil set the stage for a nostalgic experience in the Games by stealing the show during the competition’s opening ceremony with their striking, traditional outfits.

The colourful event took place on Sunday night at Sesi Sports Centre in Caxias Do Sul, the Games’ host city.

Kenya has sent a contingent of 136 athletes to Brazil. They will compete in women’s football, men’s golf, handball (men and women), athletics (men and women) and basketball (men and women).

The about 20 athletes, who represented the entire Team Kenya during the parade of nations, thrilled the crowd with their traditional, Maasai attire that displayed Kenya’s rich and unique culture.

It is the female athletes who stood out the most, having donned the famous red Maasai dress.

They added to the beauty with Maasai jewelry around their waist, neck and head, while on their feet, they wore sandals bearing the national flag colours.

Their male counterparts had their striking white shirts beaded with the national flag colours around the hands area. They wore similar sandals as the ladies.

Cabinet Secretary for Sports Amina Mohamed had on April 19 during the handing over of the national flag to the team by President Uhuru Kenyatta, complimented the athletes for their awe-inspiring attire.

“Additionally, I wish to thank our women from the Ushanga Kenya Initiative who have produced beaded attires and jewelry that will be worn by our athletes in Brazil, as we seek to showcase our rich and unique culture to the world,” said Amina at State House in Nairobi. 

“The Initiative has had an immense contribution towards the empowerment of women from pastoralist and marginalized communities by training them on value addition and improved techniques in beadwork,” she said.

Handball begin medal haunt

Kenya will Monday at 6pm start her medal hunt at the championships when the national women’s deaf handball team squares it out with Turkey.

The match, which will mark the start of the women’s handball contest at the competition, takes place at UCS Sede – Multi sport gym.

The national women’s deaf handball team will be hoping for a bright start against Turkey, as they look to shake off their underdogs tag.

Coach Peter Mwathi's side are minnows in the competition owing to the fact that it is their first ever appearance in Games. None of his charges has ever plied her trade outside the country while Kenya does not have a running women’s deaf handball league, unlike their competitors in Brazil.

Busy Tuesday

Tuesday will be a busy day for Kenya as women's football and men's handball teams will all be in action.

Kenya women’s football team, who are making their Deaflympics debut will square it out with Japan at Estadio Estrela-Soccer Field at 12pm local time (6pm in Kenya). 

The national men's Deaf handball team, who are an African powerhouse, will take on Cameroon at UCS Sede -Multi-sport gym at the same time. 

Kenya's other opponents in the women's football which will be played in round-robin format are hosts Brazil, Poland and the United States.  

"The government has facilitated a good number of days for us to acclimatise with the weather in Brazil. I believe a week is enough to be in good shape and tackle Japan in our first match," said Kenya women's Deaf football coach Ben Bella last week, before the team departed the country for the Games. 

In men's handball, Kenya is in Group 'A' alongside Brazil, Germany, Serbia and Cameroon while Croatia is in Pool 'B' alongside Turkey, Denmark, Venezuela and Ghana.

“We know our rivals are skilled, they are experienced, but again we are ready for them going by the level of training we have had in the camp,” said Kenya’s captain Joel Kiilu during the team's earlier training in Nairobi. 

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