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WANYAMA’S UNTOLD STORY: From football defender to basketball MVP

Last updated 3 years ago | By ERICK OCHIENG'

Wanyama [PHOTO: COURTESY]

Equity Bank Hawk’s power forward Mercy Wanyama is excited to be named Kenya’s Most Valuable Player(MVP) in the women’s category.

Wanyama is also elated beyond measure for having won her first Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) women’s Premier League title for over a decade that she has been in the game.

Before lifting the KBF 2016 title, the closest Wanyama had come to the trophy was a semifinal finish with her previous club Storms several years ago.

Mercy was on fire during their KBF women’s Premier League Game Five final playoff against Fiba Africa Zone V Clubs Basketball Champions Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) at Nyayo national stadium gymnasium in Nairobi a fortnight ago.

She not only led Equity to bag the title with a 73-68 victory, but managed to sink a game high 36 points in the encounter.

“Being named MVP after last season’s league was the greatest surprise in my life. I feel any of my team mates including captain Samba Mjomba, Hilda Indasi and Silalei Shani who all have previously won the gong could have bagged it again owing to their current form. I feel really honoured and appreciated to have won this title,” said Wanyama who also runs her family business away from basketball.

Wanyama quips that changing clubs after playing for Storms for eight years was a great eye opener and contributed to her sudden growth and rise in basketball within one year.

“I loved Storms very much. That’s where I was discovered as I started to play basketball while I was a student at Langata High. Being in the school team at the same time playing for a premier league side gave me lots of exposure,” she explained.

“However, I resolved to leave Storms after eight years to link up with Equity in 2016. When I did that I promised myself to be a better player than I was so I made some resolutions in life that improved my game,” she said.

Among the resolutions she made included having a personal trainer to coach her away from her normal training with Equity at their Upper Hill School ground.

“I got Equity head coach David Maina who agreed to coach me privately at NIS School in Lavington. Through his advices and personalised training I was able to improve on my shots, finishing and post moves,” Wanyama said.

Her massive improvement in the game saw her being ‘poached’ by KPA for the 2016 Fiba Africa Zone V Clubs Basketball Championship held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania which she aided the dockers to win.

She was also the key player for KPA alongside her Equity team mate Indasi during the Africa Women’s Clubs Basketball Championship in Maputo last December.

“Being included in the KPA squad was such a massive boost for my career as it showed me that the self-improvements I was making privately in the game were not all in vain. It encouraged me to work even harder to be better in basketball,” she said.

Wanyama says she will continue preparing and sharpening herself as she looks forward to lead Equity in their first regional outing this October in Kampala, Uganda.

“I believe we need to work more on our shots, moves and defense before we head off to Kampala,” she quipped.

Before taking up basketball as a career, Wanyama featured for Country Bus Fc as a defender cum goal keeper when her family was staying at the sprawling Muthurwa slums. She also tried her hand in rugby and netball before finally finding her niche in basketball.

Wanyama comes from a sporting family. Her brothers; Macdonald Mariga Wanyama currently plays for Italy Serie B side Latina Fc while Victor Wanyama features for English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur.

Her sisters Cynthia Wanyama is a netball player with the Ministry of Information and Communication (MOIC), Alice Wanyama was forced to retire from basketball after picking a nagging injury and Volnet Wanyama is a former KPA basketball player currently featuring for former champions Eagle Wings.

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