Teams shoulder burden of making their fans proud in Kakamega

St Mary's School Yala go through the paces with their modern gym equipments.[Washington Onyango,Standard]

The long awaited moment is here.

The Kenya Secondary School Sports Association (KSSSA) national Term Two games finals kick off today, with defending champions, newbies and minnows set to fight for the three tickets to East Africa games set for Rwanda in two weeks.

After a week of showboating and training, it is time to get down to business as fans will be eager to witness history in the making.

The main focus of the games as expected will be on football where a new king will be crowned on Saturday as defending champions Ebwali will be watching from the sidelines after failing to progress past the sub county level in Vihiga County.

Ebwali’s absence has seen all teams set their sights on the prestigious national football title, setting stage for an exhilarating showdown.

2019 champions St Anthony’s Boys Kitale, who are in Group B alongside Nairobi heavyweights Dagoretti High, Matiliku Boys and Serani, believe they have what it takes to topple teams and go to East Africa.

St Anthony coach Peter Mayoyo said they want to reclaim the title they last won in 2019.

“We have been training through playing build up friendly matches against local sides. These friendlies have enabled us rectify some of our mistakes and also improved the team in terms of maturity and mental preparedness,” said Mayoyo.

The multiple-time Trans Nzoia County football champions are aiming to qualify for the East Africa championships.

“Our main goal is to reach East Africa. We know it is a dream of every team, but we are different and have set the bar higher. We know it won’t be easy but we have to play our best football to get there,” said Mayoyo.

St Anthony’s Boys Kitale will kick off their hunt against Serani from Coast at 2pm, the same time, Eastern champions Matiliku play Dagoretti High School at Bukhungu Stadium.

Western champions Shanderema will kick off the games against North Eastern from 10:30am at Bukhungu as Agoro Sare from Nyanza play Kirangari.

Agoro Sare, who seem to be the dark horses in this high-stakes race, are less known on the national scene as this is their maiden appearance.

Despite being their first time to qualify for the national finals, Agoro Sare's principal Isaac Okeyo believes they have what it takes to compete at the nationals.

"We are not just competing; we are aiming to triumph," Principal Okeyo said. "Our players have demonstrated incredible skill, resilience, and passion throughout the season, and now is the time for them to showcase their capabilities on the grandest stage."

St Mary's School Yala go through the paces with their modern gym equipments.[Washington Onyango,Standard]

In rugby, both St Mary’s School Yala and Maseno School from Nyanza want to prove their strengths but they will have to contain defending champions, Koyonzo Secondary School.

While Maseno School have won the national rugby Sevens title twice (2011 and 2014), Yala are yet to test glory at the nationals.

“We are ready for the finals as the goal remains getting to East Africa. We have come from far and the journey is just beginning,” said Yala rugby coach Kenneth Mukok.

On their part, Koyonzo are confident of retaining the title they won last year. The team is yet to lose a match this year.

“The goal has been one all along; to retain the national rugby Sevens title. So far, no hurdles for us and we want to show the nation that it was not by fluke that we won the title last year,” said Koyonzo coach Elly Okwemba.

Only Maseno School, Kakamega High School and Upper Hill have won the national Sevens title twice since the seven-aside match was introduced in the secondary school sports calendar in 2011.

As it stands, Western region will produce four teams to the nationals; Koyonzo, Vihiga, Bungoma and Kimobo. North Eastern will not have rugby representatives and therefore, their slots were given to the host region.

Ng'iya Girls basketball players train ahead of the national games.[Washington Onyango,Standard]

In basketball 3x3, newbies Ng’iya Girls hope to fly not only Nyanza's flag higher, but also carry the name of Siaya County at the national finals.

After 21 years in the cold, Ng'iya Girls' basketball team qualified for the national games for the first time since 2002.

For a school that only grabbed headlines for academic excellence, it has been an upward journey for Ng'iya this year and coach Naftali Ambala believes this is their year.

“It has been long coming for Ng’iya who have been watching from the sidelines as teams grabbed headlines year in, year out," he said.

“It is also a good thing for the girls to play at the highest level in the country and we are going to take this opportunity with pride,” said Ambala.

Ng'iya Girls qualified alongside regional champions Ototo Mixed from Homa Bay.

St Dorcas' Evangeline Karimi (left) and Violet Hoka of Mbagathi school during Term 2 Games, Nairobi Region at Moi Girls School Nairobi. July 18, 2023. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

In the boys' category, Nyanza region basketball 5x5 and 3x3 champions Onjiko are keen on reaching the East Africa games.

Led by their principal Joseph Were and former Maseno coach Gordon Ogutu, who is also the Deputy Principal, Onjiko, who have reduced former giants Maseno and Agoro Sare to whipping boys, believe their standards are higher this time round.

Were, who has been coaching basketball at school level for the last 31 years, said he is looking forward to complete the project he started at Onjiko in 2020 when he joined the Ahero-based school.

Onjiko will represent Nyanza alongside Agoro Sare. Friends School Kamusinga and Chesamisi will represent Western, while Dagoretti and Langata do duties for Nairobi Region.

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