Kenyan hockey teams have been tipped to sweep all podium places in both boys’ and girls’ competitions during the 16th edition of Brookside East Africa School Games set for August 17 to 27 in Gulu, Uganda.
Hockey teams have for a long time been drawn from Uganda and Kenya and the case has not changed this year.
Kenya has entered six hockey teams (three for each gender), while hosts Uganda have enlisted eight, four apiece for the boys’ and girls’ categories.
In the absence of last year’s champions, Kenya will be represented by Friends School Kamusinga, six-time East Africa winners St. Anthony’s Kitale, national runners-up Upper Hill and former national holders Kisumu Day. From last year’s girls’ contingent of three, only Sinyolo returns to the regional games alongside national holders St. Cecilia, Misikhu and runners-up, St. Joseph’s Kitale.
Booker Agutu, head coach of national bronze medallists Kisumu Day said that Kenyan sides are out on a mission to occupy all podium places despite Uganda hosting the games.
“The hosting factor will not play any role in giving Uganda an upper-hand over our teams. We (Kenyan teams) have prepared very well and I am confident that together our three teams will finish top. We must make amends for their 2016 feat,” said Agutu, a former Kenyan international.
Kenya’s boys podium party was halted by neighbours’ Ntare SS last year in Eldoret and local teams have been ironing out their shortcomings from last year’s event as they look to shovel Ugandans to mere participants.
Whereas Agutu is confident the boys will finish in medal bracket positions, Sinyolo Girls’ head coach Alloise Owino is wary, saying this will only happen if their coaches re-evaluated their execution in Eldoret.
“It is the dream of Team Kenya that all the six sides position in the top three places, but I just hope that we all picked lessons from what led to a Ugandan team grabbing bronze medals,” noted Owino who seeks to guide his charges to retaining the East Africa Games title for the fourth year in a row.
“We are gunning for our fifth trophy and there is no team that will stop us from retaining the title as we lead our compatriots to finish in the top three again,” added Owino whose lineup finished third in the nationals in April.
Meanwhile, Agutu pointed out some disparities between the school teams and national team performances in comparison to Uganda. He observed that the neighbours are better placed than Kenya at 11th in Africa.
“Kenya has immense talent which disappears in the transition period after secondary school. Not many of our players make to universities and clubs do not exhaust their scouting options. This, coupled with the national teams not being selected on merit has made Kenya trail Uganda internationally,” continued Agutu, who blissfully remembers some time in the 1980s when Kenya ranked 11 in the world.
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