Kenya’s U20 team, Chipu, and the Barthes Cup defending champions are slowly picking up the pace as they prepare for the 2020 competition that’ll be in Nairobi in April.
The team has its conditioning and skills sessions every Tuesday and Thursday at the RFUEA Grounds and a half-day camp at Peponi School in Ruiru every Sunday. Head Coach Paul Odera mentioned that there is progress in the team’s preparations albeit too slow as the new players are still learning the ropes of being in a National Team set up while the 2019 eligible players’ performance has regressed, “They may find their places taken by hungrier and younger players who are keen to learn,” said Odera.
Every Sunday before starting their field session, Chipu usually has an emotional intelligence session at Peponi School, “We are not only raising future Simbas and good rugby players, but we are nurturing men who need to pillars of the game of rugby, but also pillars in the society. The identity of this team needs to be unbreakable and the emotional intelligence sessions are meant to produce solid rugby players, but most importantly, solid young men. If we get each player to have a good emotional balance the team will be able to deal with the pressure of being defending champions on home soil,” added Odera.
One of the challenges Chipu experiences has been integrating players from Kenya, South Africa, and Britain as well as the social, ethnic and religious diversities. Odera credits his able management who work tirelessly to ensure that the players are acquiring the right team culture, ” Nandi Kegode our mental skills coach, Dr. Ondiege our Chief medic, together with Jimmy Katembo our TM are working tirelessly to get the culture right both on and off the field. If we get the culture right, we will be halfway there,” he said.
The whole of the Chipu team appreciates the support received from Peponi School who have opened up their high-performance facility to the team. “Words cannot express what their support is doing to build the future of Kenya rugby. It is rare to find such generosity in these tough times,” said Odera in closing.
Barthes Cup will be held on 19th, 22nd and 26th April 2020.