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Kuira leaves past problems behind in search of stardom

Last updated 2 months ago | By Washington Onyango

USIU's Rhoda Kuira clearing ball during Astro Turf tourney match against Telkom at Sikh Union Club. Telkom beat USIU A 2-1 in the final period. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

An ardent footballer, Rhoda started playing hockey after joining former East Africa regional champions Kerugoya Girls High School in 2009.

There can be chances to pass, chances to shoot, chances to score. Chances to come on as a substitute, chances to start, chances to impress.

Rhoda Kuira is not leaving any chances as she aims to win a major title before she hangs her boots and stick.

For one to be in a position of succeeding, the best in the industry will tell you that you have to take these chances, if and when they come along.

Even despite the coronavirus pandemic decimating the hockey calendar, Kuira has set her eyes on winning the Africa Hockey Club Championships set for Blantyre, Malawi later this year.

The 25-year-old United States International University (USIU) Spartans Hockey Club striker played in the last four during their debut at the 2018 tournament held in Nigeria.

Despite falling 2-0 to Ghana Police in the third place playoff (the Ghanaians bagged the bronze medal), Kuira is hopeful of an improved performance at this year’s games after learning their lessons in Nigeria.

“It was a wonderful experience for the team. The privilege of representing my club and country is unmatched and despite the mixed results we registered, I am proud of what we achieved,” she said.

“And after qualifying again for this year’s tournament, I believe we learnt our lessons and mistakes and with proper preparations, we can get a podium finish, if not, win the title.”

Blazers Hockey Club (formerly Telkom) has won the tournament 10 times and will represent Kenya alongside USIU as they seek to return after missing last year’s edition and dethrone El Sharkia of Egypt.

“I love playing hockey and after reaching the playoffs two years ago, I believe we are growing into something big and we will strive to win.”

Last season, despite playing four matches, Kuira scored five goals (including four against JKUAT) to inspire USIU to a podium finish in the Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) Women’s Premier League.

They finished second behind record Kenyan champions Blazers.

Born and raised in Kirinyaga County, the first born in a family of three used to play football as an attacking midfielder for Muragara Primary School.

However, she had a change of heart after joining the then East African hockey queens Kerugoya Girls High School in 2009.

With limited playing chances, she, however, had to wait for two years to get into the school team and in 2011 and 2012, helped the school win both national and East African titles.

She later joined USIU on a sports academic scholarship, turning out for the USIU Spartans Hockey Club in the premier league and Kenya University Sports Association (KUSA) games.

In 2014, she made her international debut then as an 18-year-old. It was a memorable time as she scored a goal at the World League 2 tournament in Uruguay, a feat she repeated in Egypt, Ghana and South Africa championships.

She was voted the Best KHU Women’s Premier League upcoming Player of the Year in 2016 and won four KUSA titles.

Kuria, who pays tribute to former captain Betsy Ommala, national coach Jacky Mwangi, Caroline Guchu and Zack Aura for guiding her, says she wants to be a coach and trainer in future.

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