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Nairobi schools face herculean task at national games

Having conquered the Metropolitan Games in Machakos, Nairobi County will be aiming for honours at the National Secondary Schools Term One Ball Games that are underway in Mombasa.

Top schools from across Kenya are eyeing basketball, hockey, rugby 15s, swimming, decathlon, heptathlon, swimming and cross country titles.

Shanzu Teachers’ Training College is definitely the place to be for scouts who will be at the port to identify talent. It will be action galore until Saturday when the games end.

Nairobi, which is under the Metropolitan Region, along with Machakos, Kajiado and Makueni will be looking to retain some titles and also try to win back others that have eluded them for a while.

The county is represented in Mombasa by Upper Hill in boys’ basketball, Parklands Arya in girls’ basketball and Nairobi School in rugby 15s.  Nairobi has no hockey representatives, Lenana, Hillcrest, Moi Girls and Pangani Girls were defeated at the regional games.

The nationals are not a walk in the park. Top-notch competition is expected following the adoption of a new format in which regional champions take part in the national championship rather than the provincial ones as was the case in the past.

The new mode was adopted last year in accordance with the devolved system of governance enshrined in the Constitution that was promulgated in August 2010.

Flawless skills

Nairobi schools have to be on top of their game for them to make an impact. Although they are endowed with players, that alone won’t count. They must match this with flawless skills.

The boys’ basketball boys’ matches promise to be a thriller, with East African and national champions Upper Hill High School out to keep the title they won last year when they beat Lake Region’s Maseno High School 58-40 in the final at Mang’u High School.

Coach Ronny Owino said his team must fight hard to stay at the top, warning against complacency and over-confidence.

“As the reigning champions, everyone expects us to perform well. We would not underestimate any opponent because every team at the national championship is on a mission to win. Upper Hill would take every game seriously, and hopefully make it to the knockout stages,” said Owino. 

Upper Hill has to overcome Mang’u, Kirobon and Kang’aru School in Pool B to progress to the next stage. Based on their results in the tight group, they should be able to advance and stay in the running for the crown. 

With former champions Laiser Hill and Maseno High School failing to make it to the national championship, Upper Hill stands a higher chance of making Saturday’s final. 

For the team to successfully put up a solid fight, they will draw from experience and constantly remain on guard.

Pool B will feature St Georges from Mombasa, Ambira High – that shocked former national champions Maseno School from Lake Region, Friends School, Kamusinga and Mandera High.

Making debut

Parklands Arya Girls who are making their debut will face off with Mabera Girls (Lake Region), Loreto Limuru (Aberdares) and Senior Chief Ogle (North Eastern) in Pool A.

The other pool will see former champions Tigoi Girls High, who are making a comeback, battle reigning champions Shimba Hills, Kirigara and Moi Girls Eldoret. 

Arya are emerging as a new force in Nairobi secondary school girls’ basketball and hope to keep the momentum in Mombasa.

The school humiliated former long running champions Buru Buru Girls the Metropolitan finals with a dominant display, winning the game 62-39 to announce their arrival. 

Arya, coached by Geoffrey Waloma, was unheard off a few years back but are now the Nairobi queens. Any team coming up against them must do its homework well.

Waloma said getting to the top was not easy. He said the team was enjoying a run because of focus, hard work and commitment.

“Parklands Arya were at the top because of a lot of hard work put in over the past two years. The decision to join the Nairobi Basketball Association (NBA) league was a move in the right direction and I am happy it is paying off. We hope to have a good run at these games in our debut season,” said Waloma.

Nairobi will not have competitors in hockey for the first time in over 10 years.

It will be up to St Charles Lwanga, who won the boys crown at the regional games, to square it out with the best. They knocked out the highly-fancied Lenana and Hillcrest Schools.

St Joseph’s Girls Kibwezi will carry the region’s flag, having seen out former champions Moi Girls and Pangani Girls schools.

In rugby, Nairobi School can bet their chances in the 15s contest following the absence of former champions Kakamega High – who were beaten by surprise package St Peters Mumias in the Western Region finals last month. 

Kakamega have long dominated rugby and their absence leaves the title up for grabs for the fittest and wittiest team.

The usual suspects Nairobi and Mombasa schools will renew their rivalry in swimming, a situation that plays out at all national championships.

But Lake Region schools will not sit back and be spectators; they have vowed to give the two a run for their money when the fight for the kings and queens of the pool gets underway at the Visa Oshwal Academy. 

It will be interesting to see if there will be a change of guard or the same old script.

Schools from Nakuru Region hope to extended their dominance in the track events that include heptathlon, decathlon and cross country.