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Kenya Shujaa captain Andrew Amonde believes he is in rugby by default.

Last updated 5 months ago | By Ochieng Oyugi

Kenya rugby sevens captain Andrew Amonde displays the trophy as they arrive after winning the HSBC Singapore Sevens in the Cup Final, at the Jomo Kenyatta international airport in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 19, 2016. REUTERS

KCB flanker says lifting Singapore trophy in the 2016 HSBC World Sevens Series is his greatest moment in the sport

He is looking forward to steering Kenya in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Amonde was introduced to the game by his neighbour, the late Andrew Okwaro who saw his potential.

"Before then, I was playing basketball and handball in high school. Embracing rugby after my 'O' levels was the best ever decision I made," he recalls.

Amonde even cancelled trials with Kenya Handball Federation side Ulinzi to start his rugby training at the Kisumu Polytechnic grounds.

He grew very fast in the game which led him to pen a contract with Kisumu RFC in 2004.

He featured for the lakeside outfit for two seasons before he relocated to Nairobi in 2006.

His coming to the capital city was for two reasons, to play for KCB RFC who had signed him from Kisumu and to attend college at the East Africa School of Media Studies where he had registered to pursue a course in video production.

Popularly known as Man Opede among his peers, Amonde's breakthrough in the sport came a few months later when he earned his first call up to the national team, Kenya Shujaa where he has featured for 14 years now.

His discipline and dedication saw him picked as KCB and Shujaa skipper, earning him the title of 'El Capitan' from the playing unit.

Amonde's best moment in the game came in 2016 when he led Kenya to a first ever HSBC World Sevens Series Main Cup title, under the then head coach Benjamin Ayimba.

Kenya stunned the top-ranked Fiji 30-7 to lift the trophy in the pulsating final.

"I was filled with joy when I lifted that cup after the final. I could not believe we had won," he recalls.

"Many before us tried and failed but I'm glad to be the captain that brought the trophy home. This was a reward for the hard work we had put in place for several years."

The 35-year-old father of two also worked extra hard late last year to save Shujaa who were on the brink of relegation from the World Series.

Dissenting voices

With his effort, Kenya put a stunning show to amass 11 points in the crucial last two legs in London and Paris and survived the axe.

Shujaa finished the circuit in 13th place on 37 points, just above Wales and basement side Japan, to stay afloat.

"There were so many misunderstandings in the team last season.

"These issues led to the dismal performance that was realised, I'm glad we put up a mighty show in London and Paris to escape relegation."

Amonde urges Kenya Rugby Union to look into the players' welfare to avert any dissenting voices in future.

"A lot of restructuring needs to be done in the team to enhance smooth transition of players.

"Currently, the team might not cope so well without efforts from older players who are about to exit the scene," Amonde said.

The second child in a family of eight who led Kenya to book a second Olympic ticket in a row last year, says the coronavirus pandemic has stalled their preparations for the Tokyo Olympics.

"Nothing is happening at all right now. We are not training as the pitches and gyms are closed," the flanker said.

"We didn't perform well in our last Olympics in Rio, but we learnt our lessons. We realised that Olympics is not like any other tournament you can walk in and play, it needs adequate preparation.

"Our mission is to rectify the mistakes we made in Rio before we head to Japan."

Amonde's intention is to give back to the sport upon retirement.

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