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In the rugged landscape of Kenyan rugby, where passion and determination are the keys to success, one woman has traversed an extraordinary path from the playing field to a leadership role in the sports industry. Meet Camilyne Oyuayo, a name synonymous with resilience, dedication, and breaking barriers.

Her rugby journey commenced in 2005, a few months after high school, during a pulsating match at the Kabeberi 7s in Kasarani. The clash between Uganda Ladies and Mwamba left an indelible mark on Oyuayo, igniting a spark that would shape her destiny. Intrigued by the sport’s impact, she took the plunge and joined Mwamba, the only women’s club in the country at the time.

Her initiation into competitive rugby happened in Kisumu, facing Uganda Ladies, but victory eluded them. Undeterred, three months later, Oyuayo received the call every aspiring player dreams of—the National squad beckoned. However, the debut was bittersweet as the team faced defeat. This setback was just a prelude to the challenges that lay ahead.

In 2012, a slipped disk during training threatened to extinguish her playing career. Devastated, she contemplated giving up. Yet, resilience surged within her, leading to an unexpected twist in her rugby tale. In 2013, she was appointed Assistant Captain for the 15s team under the leadership of Doreen Remour, showcasing her tenacity to overcome adversity.

The pinnacle came in 2015, as Coach Ash Klein entrusted Oyuayo with the captaincy for both the 15s and 7s teams. Describing her playing experience as bitter-sweet, she emphasized the sacrifices, sweat, and blood that adorned the journey. Yet, the sweetness lay in the opportunities and connections forged through the sport.

Rugby, for Oyuayo, transcended the confines of a game; it became a lifeline rescuing her from the temptations of drugs and the perils of a ghetto environment. The sport not only molded her character but also served as a catalyst for change in her life.

In 2016, she represented Kenya at the Olympics in Brazil, a testament to her dedication. However, post-Olympics, a heartfelt call to her coach signaled the end of her playing days, leaving both coach and teammates in shock.

As fate would have it, in September 2016, the Kenya Rugby Union announced a managerial position for the Lionesses. Encouraged by friends and family, Oyuayo embraced the challenge, securing the role. Managing a women’s team proved to be no walk in the park, but guided by Coach Kevin Wambua, she discovered untapped resilience within herself, navigating uncharted waters.

Her driving force, she acknowledges, is her family and daughter, propelling her to go the extra mile. Ever the advocate for women’s empowerment, Oyuayo encourages girls and women to pursue their dreams, affirming that determination can overcome any obstacle.

The transition from player to manager marked a new chapter, but Oyuayo’s journey was far from over. In 2022, she enrolled in the World Rugby High-Performance coaching program. Her first coaching internship during the WXV3 in Dubai and the pursuit of her Level 2 15s coaching exemplify her commitment to continuous growth.

Mentored by Jerome Paarwater and Paul Odera, Oyuayo acknowledges their guidance on her coaching journey. She envisions a future as a full-time coach when fully grown into the role.

Yet, her narrative extends beyond the rugby field. Last year,2023, Oyuayo was appointed CEO for the Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad Tobago, overseeing all sports disciplines for Team Kenya. This breakthrough in the sports industry reflects not only her capabilities but also sends a resounding message—that women can indeed make it big in sports leadership.

For Camilyne Oyuayo, this milestone signifies readiness for any role, a testament to her journey’s transformative nature. As she continues to explore the limitless possibilities ahead, she remains poised for the challenges and triumphs that the world of sports has yet to unveil. Truly, her journey has just begun, and the world eagerly awaits the next chapter in the remarkable saga of Camilyne Oyuayo.

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