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Butula are on a mission in Machakos as Brookside's Sh30m brings back cheers

 Rift Valley's Kamito Secondary School handball team celebrates after beating rivals Hospital Hill High School of Nairobi last year. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

In the heart of Western Kenya, where the rolling green hills meet the bustling townships, lies a bastion of rugby prowess – Butula Boys High School.

This institution, steeped in tradition and sporting excellence, has carved a formidable reputation on the rugby field, and they are poised to defend their rugby 15s crown at the upcoming Kenyan Secondary School Sports Association (KSSSA) national rugby finals.

Butula's journey to rugby eminence has been nothing short of remarkable. At the recent Western Region finals, they faced off against formidable opponents, including the Kakamega County champions, Koyonzo Secondary School.

In a display of sheer determination and skill, Butula emerged victorious, cementing their status as the region's top rugby outfit.

Under the astute guidance of coach Fredrick Shimenga, Butula Boys High School has honed their skills and fostered a culture of resilience and excellence.

After emerging victorious in the Western Region finals, Shimenga believes his squad has silenced doubters and stamped their prowess.

Reflecting on last year's triumph, where Butula Boys clinched the regional and national titles, Shimenga is determined to replicate their success and go one step further.

"We've been preparing meticulously for the nationals," Shimenga revealed. "From recovery sessions to skills training, bodywork, lifting, and mental conditioning, we've left no stone unturned in our quest for excellence."

However, the road to glory is fraught with challenges, and Butula find themselves drawn into Group A, dubbed the "Group of Death."

Alongside perennial rivals All Saints Embu, they will lock horns with Nyanza champions Kisii School and Rift Valley heavyweights St. Patrick’s Iten. Despite the daunting task ahead, Shimenga remains undaunted.

"We cannot afford to underestimate any team in our group," Shimenga said. "Our game plan is simple, yet effective – to utilise our set pieces, execute every opportunity that comes our way, and respect the strength of our opponents. We know that victory will not come easy, but we are prepared to fight for every inch on the field."

For Butula Boys, the ultimate goal extends beyond national glory. With their sights set on the East African games, they are determined to surpass last year's silver medal feat and etch their names in the annals of rugby history.

"Our journey does not end at the national finals," Shimenga said. "Our eyes are firmly set on the East African games, and we are ready to showcase the talent and determination that defines Butula Boys High School."

Meanwhile, in Group B, which comprises Eastern Region silver medalists Kitondo School, Marafa, Lenana School, and Mang'u School, other contenders are gearing up for the challenge ahead.

Kitondo School's coach Michael Satia expressed his team's aspirations after securing a spot in the nationals, setting their sights on making a mark and leaving a lasting impression on the tournament.

"Our target is clear - to compete fiercely and showcase our talent on the national stage," Satia said. "We believe in our abilities, and we are ready to give our all to achieve our goals."

Similarly, Lenana School's coach, Nicholas Abok, is brimming with optimism following their breakthrough qualification after a 19-year hiatus.

Abok is determined to lead his team to success and build on their recent triumph in the Nairobi Region rugby 15s title.

"After a long wait, we are back on the national stage, and we are determined to make it count," Abok said. "Our aim is to deliver positive results and demonstrate the strength and resilience of Lenana School rugby."

Meanwhile, the Term One national games received a major boost after milk processing company Brookside Dairy announced a Sh30 million title sponsorship deal for the championship set for April 9-13 in Machakos.

Wilson Okong’o, Brookside Dairy Cooperate Communications Manager said there is work in progress to ensure continuity beyond the championships.

For 30 years now, Brookside Dairy has become synonymous with its strong commitment to supporting communities in Kenya under its social investment pillar.

“The Brookside Secondary Schools Term 1 Games are a clear demonstration of our commitment to corporate citizenship ideals, as part of our involvement in initiatives that have a direct positive impact on the people. The games are a perfect melting point for sporting talent, which explains our commitment to support them as the sole sponsor,” said Okong’o.

“We need to support the children even after school games.”

Nelson Sifuna, Ministry of Education head of directorate field coordination and co-curricular activities said; "KSSSA and Brookside have a good partnership and we appreciate. This venture is good for our sports and it will assist in ensuring the best comes out of the championships."

“It has been 15 years of fulfillment partnership and this year we anticipate a good championship," said David Ngugi, the Secretary General Secondary School Sports Association secretary general.

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