What you need to know:
- Mulongo says the formation of the deaf teams has given her satisfaction.
- Does she encounter challenges while officiating matches?
- “When you make a call in handball, you need to demonstrate the call through the signs and that has made it easy for me.”
When Kenya Handball Federation (KHF) lead referee, George Asimeto, posted an advertisement calling for applications for National Referee Training Course in 2017 on the federation’s Facebook page, ittle did he know that the course would be a turning point for Patricia Mulongo.
Mulongo, 48, is living with hearing impairment and can read lips.
“Normally when I advertise refereeing or coaching courses on KHF’s Facebook page, I receive calls from participants inquiring about courses. But on that day, I received a message from one participant alerting me that she was at Kaloleni in Nairobi but wanted to know the exact venue where the course would be conducted.
I called her telephone number but the phone went unanswered. I think she might have asked around and found where we were. When I introduced myself to her, I saw her look at the person she had come with, a sign language interpreter and that’s how I knew she had hearing impairment,” Asimeto recollects.
“We have never dealt with a participant living with hearing impairment before but she looked determined and ready to learn. You could tell it from the way she was inquiring about the course from her translator. Because she can’t hear but can talk in a low tone, she quickly grasped concepts.
At the end of the course, she performed well and acquired Level One Certificate. Since then, she has been one of the four technical officials in the national league. She is good at scorekeeping and timekeeping, something that is crucial in the sport. In fact, she is among the best in that department,” he said.
Mulongo, a mother of two (Jotham 16, Esther, 20) was on duty on Sunday during the KHF Super Cup match between Rangers and National Cereals Board (NCPB) women’s teams at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi. She was tasked with score-keeping.
Rangers, who are making their debut in the event, shocked regular Cereals 27-24.
Through her interpreter Esther Kendi, Mulongo says she was born normal in Migori County but at the age of 13, she heard a loud noise, then lost the sense of hearing.
“My parents did all they could to restore my sense of hearing in vain. I was a student at the Kabuto Primary School but I later stopped schooling. Efforts to get a school for the deaf around that region hit a snag.
My parents then moved to Mombasa and that’s how I started working for an association for the deaf which is associated with Emmanuel Church for the Deaf. That’s where I met my husband Josphat. He is a senior pastor who is also living with hearing impairment,” Mulongo recollects.
“At school, I used to play football and handball. But I loved handball more. I didn’t get the chance to continue playing but I knew I wanted to venture into coaching and refereeing.I want to learn more about the sport.
When I learnt about the refereeing course through Facebook, I gladly enrolled and I’m happy that the leap of faith I took has borne fruit. It’s with these technical backgrounds that I accompanied the deaf national women’s team to Brazil last year where the team finished fourth,’’ she adds.
Through KHF and with help from Peter Mwathi and Jack Ochieng, men and women’s deaf teams now participate in the National League.
Mwathi is the men’s national team and Strathmore University coach, while coach Ochieng is attached to Nairobi Water and women’s national team.
Mulongo says the formation of the deaf teams has given her satisfaction.
Does she encounter challenges while officiating matches?
“When you make a call in handball, you need to demonstrate the call through the signs and that has made it easy for me.”