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Hockey star Gilly Okumu ready for football test with Harambee Starlets

WOMEN IN SPORTS By Washington Onyango | April 11th 2021
Captain Gilly Okumu in Africa Cup of Nations test match against Uganda at Sikh Union on Sunday, March 21, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

It is her agility, her reading of the game, and her supreme attention to detail that marks out Gilly Okumu as one of the best hockey players of her generation.

A forward who marshals the attack with utmost confidence in her own ability to bail her team out of any tight spot, there is an impregnable yet languid nature to Okumu’s style of play that speaks of a natural-born talent.

And talent she has. Okumu’s unwavering love and passion for sports has seen her excel in two sports disciplines; hockey and football.

Currently the Kenya national women’s hockey captain, Okumu keeps shining. And a shining star she is after she was called up in the provisional 30-member squad of the national women’s football team, Harambee Starlets.

Fresh from guiding Kenya to victory against Uganda in Africa Cup of Nations test matches, Okumu said she is ready to hit the ground running with Harambee Starlets.

 Okumu dribbles the ball past Uganda's Faith Achom during an Africa Cup of Nations Test match at Sikh Union, Parklands on March 20, 2021. [Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

Speaking to The Standard Sports, Okumu said she was surprised to be called up to the national team in such a short period of time after switching to football earlier this year.

Gilly, who plays for Strathmore University as a forward in the Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) Women’s Premier League, said she switched to football to maintain match fitness.

“It came as a surprise as I was playing football to gain fitness since hockey has been off,” said Okumu who plays for Mathare United Women as a striker.

Though yet to score a goal for Mathare United, Harambee Starlets head coach David Ouma enlisted Okumu among the forwards alongside Thika Queens top scorer Mwanahalima Adam, Mercy Airo of Gaspo and Faith Machora of Zetech.

Nevertheless, Okumu promised to give her best if selected to face Zambia in the upcoming international friendly on April 24.

Football has always been her passion since high school. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

“Football has always been my passion since high school so asked myself why not play this year especially with no hockey league for the past one and a half year.”

“It is always a pleasure to play for the national team and to feature and play for Harambee Starlets will be a dream come true and an inspiration to others.”

“I am ready to give it my all when the opportunity arrives,” said Okumu who scored five goals for Kenya during their Afcon test matches against Uganda in Nairobi last month.

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