Kenya women's lacrosse team immortalised in film

What you need to know:

  • Sleeping Warrior is an inspiring true story about the struggles of the Kenya women’s Under-19 lacrosse team as the players overcome extreme poverty and neglect to compete on the world stage in an unlikely sport for the first time.

The life-changing story of the first African women’s lacrosse team from Kenya to compete in a world championship, as beautifully captured in the award-winning documentary titled Sleeping Warrior, has made its international premiere digitally on MyMovies.Africa.

Sleeping Warrior is an inspiring true story about the struggles of the Kenya women’s Under-19 lacrosse team as the players overcome extreme poverty and neglect to compete on the world stage in an unlikely sport for the first time.

Set in Kenya’s Rift Valley, the 92-minute documentary follows the journey of the team across the globe to the 2019 World Lacrosse Women Under-19 World Championships in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. Transformed by the experience, the determined young women experience heartbreak and joy, but never give up on their dreams. The film that was shot in 2019 shows how an unimaginable opportunity has transformed their humble lives.

The incredible, driven young women are on a life-changing journey as they rise from the slums of Nairobi. The journey to Peterborough required courage, self-belief and vision, as the team overcame severe limitations in resources and training opportunities in order to fulfil its dream.

From getting their first passports, to discovering how their friends and families react, we learn how the power of sport changes the young women. There is heartbreak, joy and always strength of spirit.

Once in Peterborough, under the direction of head coach Storm Tretham, the Kenyan team makes history not only through its participation in the world championship, but also by recording its first-ever victory, 17-1 over Jamaica.

Kenya also played highly competitive games against Germany (one goal loss), Israel and China. They eventually finished 18th out of 22 teams. Throughout its time in Canada, the athletes were warmly embraced by competitors, fans and families in Peterborough and the surrounding communities.

The story revolves on Sharon Opari, a beautiful, dignified 18-year-old girl who was given away at age 7 to work as a maid after her HIV positive mother was sent to prison.

Overcoming poverty, malaria and abuse, Opari is chosen to represent Kenya at the World Lacrosse Championships. Before lacrosse, Opari had never left her village and now we watch as she travels across the world to be transformed forever by her time in Canada.

Opari experiences joy as the team becomes the darling of the tournament and they are adopted by the local town (Peterborough, Ontario) and become mini celebrities. Then we watch her heartbreak as the team is knocked out of the tournament.

We see Opari blossom as she deepens her friendships with her teammates but then see her despair as she realises the dream will come to an end and she will return to her life as a slave back in Kenya.

Before and after going to Canada, Opari tries to find her ‘real’ family.  Having been told her real mother had died in prison, her quest to find her mother’s grave ends in the discovery of  the possibility that her mother might be alive after all.

We watch as Opari uncovers old secrets and encounters shady characters as she perseveres in her quest for the truth.

mbamuturaki@ug.nationmedia.com


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