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Family and friends recall last moments of Nondies' Ogeto Gacheo

RUGBY By John Lawrence | December 8th 2016 | 3 min read
Rugby player Ogeto Gacheo who died over the weekend.PHOTO/DENNIS OKEYO

The ghosts of death have once again knocked on the doors of local sports industry.

Kenyan Rugby Union (KRU) mourns the death of Sylvester Ogeto Gecheo, who died on Tuesday, at Aga Khan Hospital, in Nairobi.

Ogeto suffered a neck injury during his club Nondescript’s Kenya Cup rugby match against Strathmore Leos last Saturday at Madaraka.

According to Nondies, a disc in Ogeto’s neck slipped when he went for a tackle, which resulted in a spinal damage.

The player was then rushed to Aga Khan Hospital, where he underwent an urgent surgery to fix plates on his vertebral column.

In a statement posted on the club’s official Facebook Page, Nondies said the procedure was largely successful and Ogeto was scheduled to begin physiotherapy.

“Sadly, he developed breathing problems early Tuesday morning and was pronounced dead at about 3am.

His immediate family and we, the Nondescripts family, are still coming to terms with the loss of a brother and player gone too soon,” read a statement from Nondies.

Such is the tragedy that has befallen the Kenyan rugby fraternity. A sixth born in a family of five brothers and one sister, Ogeto was a first year Engineering student at University of Nairobi.

Ogeto was staying with his brother, John Auka Gecheo, who is SuperSport Chief Executive Officer and also an ex-Nondies player, who rose through the ranks to become Nondies chairman.

While remembering his brother's last days, Auka described him as a young man, who was full of life and quite ambitious.

“He actually never had what I would call, his last moments, because he did not change at all,” said Auka.

“I was present on the match day when, like any other player, he went in for a tackle, but did not rise up. He remained on the ground before the medics moved in. We were all there as he was being attended to.

"All through, he was talking to us and everything seemed normal,” added Auka.

Ogeto’s death rekindles memories of the late Aberdeen Shikoyi, captain of Kenya women’s national rugby team.

Shikoyi sustained a spinal injury during a rugby match and like Ogeto, later died while undergoing treatment in April, 2012.

KRU Vice Chairman Thomas ‘Tano’ Opiyo said the Union is conducting a review of events ahead of Saturday's game and occurrences thereafter, "just to ascertain if there was anything that would have been done better."

“As things stand, our priority is to give Ogeto a deserved send off, but at the same time, we owe it to his family and all Kenyans and give a credible report and explanation of what really transpired,” said Opiyo.

Nondies and Ogeto's family have organised a remembrance touch-rugby match at Jamhuri ASK Show grounds tomorrow from 2pm, which will be open to all.

The event will also double up as a fundraiser to help defray funeral costs. Nondies’ Strength and Conditioning coach Kevin Ligale is receiving contributions and donations.

Ogeto's remains have been transferred to Lee Funeral Home ahead of his burial in Njoro, Nakuru next Tuesday. Family and friends are meeting at the Gecheo residence in Loresho daily from 6pm.

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