What you need to know:
- Nine times defending champions Shujaa have Vincent Onyala and Tony Omondi as co-captains. The Shujaa side also features Herman Humwa, John Okoth, Samuel Asati among others.
- Sheila Chajira and Maureen Muritu lead the Lionesses in the women’s competition, while Diana Omosso, Freshia Awino are some of the key players in the Cubs.
The spirit of the renowned Kenya Sevens coach and player, the late Benjamin Ayimba, will be reincarnated at this year's Safari Sevens on Saturday at the RFUEA grounds.
Gabriel Ayimba, Benjamin's second born son, will be featuring for Kenya's second side Morans at Safari Sevens that makes a return after one-year hiatus.
While the 21-year-old first year Bachelor of Tourism and Hospitality student at Strathmore University fell short of making the Kenya Sevens first team, Shujaa, he is honoured to play for the senior team for the first time.
Gabriel, who played for Kenya Under-20 side, Chipu, last year, says that good memories of his father, who played for both Kenya Sevens and Kenya Simbas before guiding Kenya Sevens to the historic 2016 Singapore Sevens, will be on his mind.
"It's hard to pass what my father achieved, hence a big task for me and my three other siblings who play rugby," said Gabriel.
"My father was really skillful, but what made him outstanding is when he played his heart out and that is a big shoe to fill."
Gabriel said that he hopes to make many people proud including his late father.
"Of course it's a big task with pressure on it. I have a long way to go but must keep on moving and achieving," said Gabriel.
Besides having a good heart, Gabriel notes that his father related with players well and basically used everyone of them to the maximum and never looked upon them at one time.
"That is what endeared him to many and though random, his lessons were resourceful to every one," says Gabriel, adding that his father never forced them into rugby. "I think his rugby genes were infectious," says Gabriel with a telling laugh.
Gabriel's elder brother Brian, 25, plays for Mwamba Rugby Club, while Keenan, 17 and Eli, 13, play for St Christopher's School.
Kenya Sevens deputy coach Louis Kisia, who also handles Gabriel at Strathmore University, describes him as a full player with a lot of potential to surpass his late father's achievements.
Ayimba succumbed to cerebral malaria in May 2021.
"Gabriel is a gem of a 15s utility player alternating as backrow, lock, wing and centre," said Kisia, adding that he is quite skilled especially on lineout. "He is such a competitive, fit and committed player."
Kisia noted that Gabriel has his father's strength,hence the ability to go further because of the kind of training he's receiving from both club and national team.
Gabriel was named in the Morans team that will be co-captained by Elvis Olukusi and Chrisant Ojwang. Morans are the 2000 and 2019 Safari Sevens champions.
Nine times defending champions Shujaa have Vincent Onyala and Tony Omondi as co-captains. The Shujaa side also features Herman Humwa, John Okoth, Samuel Asati among others.
Sheila Chajira and Maureen Muritu lead the Lionesses in the women’s competition, while Diana Omosso, Freshia Awino are some of the key players in the Cubs.
Shujaa will take on Red Wailers from the United Kingdom, Uganda, South Africa's All Stars and Tropic Sevens also from the United Kingdom in Pool "A."
Morans are up against Germany, Samurai, National Sevens champions KCB Rugby and South Africa's Western Province Select in Pool "B."
With the low turnout, the championship will go straight into the semi-finals on the last day on Sunday upon the completion of the pool matches.
Kenya squads for Safari 7s
Shujaa: Vincent Onyala (Co-Captain),Kevin Wekesa,John Okoth,Herman Humwa,William Mwanji,Samuel Asati,Anthony Omondi (Co-Captain),Nygel Amaitsa,Patrick Odongo,Festus Shiasi,Brian Tanga,Brian Mutugi
Morans:Elvis Olukusi (Co-Captain),Barnabas Owuor,Gabriel Ayimba,Richard Omedo,Stephen Sikuta, Ronnie Omondi,Ben Salem,Chrisant Ojwang’( Co-Captain),Lamec Ambesta,Austine Sikutwa,Cornelius Mokoro,Floyd Wabwire
Lionesses: Sheila Chajira, Moreen Muritu, Phoebe Akinyi, Clarice Mutambi,Terry Ayesa, Ann Goretti, Edith Nariaka, Sinaida Mokaya, Naomi Amuguni, Nicole Hawi, Maureen Chebet,Diana Awino
Cubs: Naomi Jelagat, Diana Kemunto, Knight Otwoma, Winnie Owino, Diana Omosso, Freshia Awino, Celestine Dodo,Faith Livoi, Valentine Wafula, Margaret Wangui, Ann Namnyak, Zuhura Asman