Lionesses all clear for Dubai Invitational Sevens

The government bailed the team with 16 air tickets 12 for the players and four for the technical bench. The team is expected to leave today

In Summary

• Lionesses will open campaign  against Tokyo Sankyu on Thursday 

• Team using the event as preparation for the World sevens series qualifier and Tokyo Olympics next year

Sheila Chajira with ball fends off a Uganda opponent in a past match
File Sheila Chajira with ball fends off a Uganda opponent in a past match

The Kenya Lionesses will play at the Dubai Invitational Sevens tournament following a government intervention yesterday.

Uncertainty surrounded the team's travel to Dubai with Kenya Rugby Union revealing they were broke and thus could not afford the Sh6m to cater for air tickets and accommodation.

However, the government bailed the team with 16 air tickets, 12 for the players and four for the technical bench.  The team is expected to leave today.

Speaking yesterday director of women's rugby Moses Ndale confirmed that the team will travel for the two-day invitational event which will serve as preparation for the World Seven Series in Hong Kong in March and the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year.

Head coach Felix Oloo has made one change to the travelling party with Homeboyz forward Enid Ouma getting the nod.

Ouma has been an integral part of the larger Lionesses squad especially after focus shifted from 15s to 7s in September.

She joins a squad of experienced players and who have participated in international Sevens Series. Janet Owino misses out on this due assignment to personal commitments.

Oloo said preparations for the event in Dubai have been good.

"The team has been training for five weeks and there has been massive improvements in set-pieces, open play and general understanding of the game. “It’s great to have Michelle Omondi back in the team as well as Enid Ouma, who is up for her Sevens debut. The competition in the team is also a notch higher and the players are hungry for the game,” said Oloo

Strength and conditioning coach Sammy Njogu said he expected a competitive performance from the girls.

“The girls have been in high spirits especially after qualifying for the Olympics and all the training sessions since we resumed have been full of energy. I strongly believe the team will have fully acquired the ability not only to compete with the internationally recognised teams but also to do extremely well as per the modern-day Sevens standards,” said Njogu.

The Lionesses will open their campaign on Thursday against Tokyo Sankyu and also battle France 7s Development on the same day. On Friday, the team will take on Belsevens and finally wind their pool fixtures against Aruka Queen Kumagaya.

Squad: Philadelphia Olando (Captain), Grace Adhiambo, Stella Wafula Christabel Lindo, Camilla Cynthia , Vivian Akumu, Diana Awino, Sheilla Chajira, Celestine Masinde, Michelle Sinaida Omondi, Janet Okello, Enid Ouma.