Just what makes this Kenya Sevens team tick?

Kenya sevens

Kenya Sevens Rugby players before the team departed for France on July 8, 2024 for the Paris Olympics Games.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The Kenyan team has an average age of 24 with Nygel Amaitsa the youngest at 21.
  • They finished 11th at the 2016 Rio Olympics and ninth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Co-captains Vincent Onyala and Anthony Omondi and Herman Humwa are the most experienced players in this very young Kenya Sevens team that will be fighting for a medal at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

Their shoulders will carry the heavy expectations of the demanding Kenya rugby sevens fans even as they try to guide the young side to levels never before witnessed at the Olympic Games.

Kenya has participated in the two Rugby Sevens competitions at the Olympics since the game was returned to the Games in 2016 but have never gone beyond the preliminary phase.

They finished 11th at the 2016 Rio Olympics and ninth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Onyala, 27, and Humwa, 28, are the only surviving players from the team that played in the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games that were held in 2021 due to Covid-19 while Omondi, 29, was in the provisional squad and just missed out on selection.

The trio reckon that they face a Herculean task leading the Young Turks not only at the Paris Olympic Games but also the 2024/2025 World Rugby Sevens Series.

Shujaa coach Kelvin “Bling” Wambua says the trio have no choice but to deliver the country to the Promised Land - advancing beyond the group stage in Paris.

“You see, I was used to being led and taking instructions from others but now the roles have changed. They look up to me for guidance,” said Onyala, adding that the new generations of players think and do things differently.

“They are advanced in their thinking, hence one has to be smart. You just can’t shout at them,” said Onyala, who learnt the ropes from previous skippers like Andrew Amonde, who is the team’s strength and conditioning coach.

Onyala said that discipline has been key to their success together with the willingness to learn, and to get out of their comfort zones.

“This is what Wambua has managed to instill in the players and I believe his many years of experience as coach has helped in bringing this cohesiveness,” said Onyala.

“He has the passion, zeal, tricks and understanding of the game.”

Onyala hopes that the team’s welfare will change for the better in terms of remuneration and training.

Omondi acknowledged that having Wambua and Amonde, who are from the previous set up, had eased up things for them. “I am able to connect what happened then and now hence easier to manage things,” said Omondi.

Humwa said that even though the dynamics of the game have changed with the team having a handful of experienced players, he has drawn vital lessons to guide the youngsters in the team.

Humwa who made his debut at the 2017/2018 World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai in an accomplished team that featured World Rugby Sevens stars like Collins Injera and William Ambaka.

“It has been easy for me to blend with this young, talented and ambitious team,” said Humwa.“You game must be at the top to upstage these youngsters.”

“I want them to make these boys believe and show them that it is just how we manage and handle ourselves. I want them to know that our attitude is what will determine our fate when we step on the pitch,” said Wambua.

Twelve nations grouped in three pools of four teams each will compete in Paris from July 25 to 27 at the Stade de France.

Shujaa are in a tough Pool "B" together with World Rugby Sevens Series champion Argentina, Australia and Samoa.