South Coast Pirates ready to attack the big boys in Kenya Cup

South Coast Pirates celebrate after winning the KRU Championship title. [South Coast Pirates]

In the sprawling coastal landscape of Kenya, amidst the swaying palms and the salty air of Diani, a rugby phoenix has risen.

In the simmering heat of Diani, with the Indian Ocean’s breeze as their silent cheerleader, the South Coast Pirates crafted a tale of triumph, resilience, and relentless pursuit of excellence that culminated in their historic elevation to the Kenya Cup, the pinnacle of Kenyan rugby.

Established in 2013, the Pirates embarked on a journey fraught with challenges, setbacks, and moments of self-doubt.

Yet, in 2024, after a seven-year voyage through the turbulent waters of the second-tier Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) Championship, they emerged not just as participants but as champions, marking their debut qualification for the Kenya Cup.

Under the guidance of coach Kevin Amiani, a visionary leader whose strategic acumen transformed the team, the Pirates dismantled Daystar University Falcons with a commanding 30-15 victory in the KRU Championship semi-finals.

South Coast Pirates' Charles Tendwa in action during a past KRU Championship match. [South Coast Pirates]

This win was not just a step up; it was a giant leap for a club that had known the bitter taste of near misses, having previously been thwarted at both the quarter-final and semi-final stages.

Reflecting on their rise, Amiani said:”We did well in the first half; the second half that’s where we lost our focus a little bit. It was a three-year plan when I took over, the consistency of us being in the semi-finals gave us an experience that we were able to handle the pressure.

“The boys knew this was the expiry date of our plan, so we really needed to win this one to keep ourselves on track. At the moment, we are focusing on the finals against Impala, then we go back to planning on how we are going to approach the Kenya Cup league.

“The new signings have had a big impact; most of them have been starting and scoring at will and defending. Basically, it was a well-structured investment for the club,” said the coach.

Following the rules of the Championship where both finalists qualify for the Kenya Cup, the Pirates’ final hurdle was the formidable Impala Saracens, former Kenya Cup champions themselves.

In a nail-biting finale at the Pirates’ home ground, Seacrest International Grounds in Diani, they edged out Impala 16-14, a victory that was as sweet as it was significant, crowning them the KRU Championship champions and securing their promotion.

South Coast Pirates team. [South Coast Pirates]

Kelvin Ndihiu, the Pirates’ chairman, couldn’t hide his elation, “This victory is a testament to the resilience, determination, and hard work of every player, coach, and member of the South Coast Pirates.

“Our journey to the Kenya Cup has been long and challenging, but we remained steadfast in our belief and commitment to our goals.

“Our expectations for the Kenya Cup are high, but we are ready to face the challenges ahead with the same spirit and vigor that got us here.”

Ndihiu further reflected on the team’s past disappointments as a catalyst for their success.

“We’ve used our previous disappointments as a motivator, as fuel to push harder, train smarter, and come back stronger.

“It’s a proud moment for us to have turned our past challenges into a stepping stone for this monumental achievement.”

At the heart of the Pirates’ success is their captain, Charles Okwemba, whose leadership on and off the field has been instrumental. Okwemba expressed his pride and the team’s collective sentiment.

“Absolutely phenomenal performance by South Coast Pirates! This historic win against Daystar Falcons marks a pivotal moment in our rugby journey.

The determination, grit, and teamwork displayed today have propelled us into the Kenya Cup for the first time ever,” said the captain.

South Coast Pirates celebrate after winning the KRU Championship title. [South Coast Pirates]

From the sandy pitches of Diani to the elite grounds of Kenyan rugby, Pirates journey is a beacon of inspiration, not just for aspiring sports teams but for anyone who dares to dream big and work relentlessly towards turning those dreams into reality.

As the sun sets over the picturesque Seacrest International Grounds, it also rises on a new chapter for the South Coast Pirates.

A chapter filled with anticipation, challenges, and the promise of thrilling encounters in the Kenya Cup.

For the Pirates and their legion of fans, the journey has just begun, a journey that promises to be as exhilarating as it is unprecedented.

The sails are set, the winds are favorable, and the horizons are broad. To the Kenya Cup and beyond, the South Coast Pirates are coming, and they are ready to make waves.

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South Coast Pirates

2024 KRU Championship champions

Founded-2013

Home-Diani, Seacrest International Ground

Chairman- Kelvin Ndihiu

Coach-Kevin Amiani

Captain-Charles Okwemba

Strength/Conditioning-John Carlos

Academy Coach-Mohammed Hajj

Media Liaison-Brian Mwenje

Physio-Lindah Rabuogi

Nutritionist-Diana Heri

2023-2024 Squad- Timothy Osaji, Newton Okeyo, Evans Mwakio, Ken Wambua, Collins Kabayo, Charles Okwemba, Gilbert Ochieng, Ibrahim Nyongesa, Ali Rashid, Kelly Akengo, Brighton Omondi, Joseph Musyoki, Charles Tendwa, Bakari Hassan, Deven Abuga, Sospeter Rofino, Leon Oloo, Abdalla Mohammed, Benedict Wesonga, James Ainea, John Asega, Clifford Odhiambo, Anthony Abonyo, Mwinyi Juma, Idd Ganguma, Clinton Machero, Brian Mokua, Abdull Mwaleso, Mohammed Hajj, David Wattico.

 

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