Okwach casts his net wide
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A St. Mary’s Yala alumni, a law student at the Catholic University of East Africa and Kenyan International -21 year old Geoffrey Okwach got his inspiration to join rugby back in high school where he had started off as a basketball player but later switched to rugby as it was much more competitive.

At the time Okwach joined the school, it had already produced several rugby stars who went on to play for some of Kenya’s top clubs;
Derrick Wamalwa, Arthur Shikwe, Leslie Mango, David Omondi,Moses Kola, George Scott, Teddy Omondi, George Mbaye, Patrice Agunda, Kevin Keegan, Lavin Asego, Eden Agero just to name a few and he(Okwach) wanted to join this list of rugby greats.

kwach went on to represent his school in various rugby competitions and once he finished his secondary education, the first club he joined was the Northern Suburbs before progressing to his current club, KCB.

Upon the realization that the competition at KCB is stiffer than he anticipated, he vowed to live by his daily mantra, “if I give up, somebody else wins.”

This is something which has keeps him going even now as he is part of the National Sevens and Fifteens teams.

Okwach in action against Seventise during the 2019 Tusker Safari Sevens. PHOTO/ARIGI OBIERO

2019 A MASSIVE YEAR FOR OKWACH

2019 was a massive year for Okwach, not only did he achieve success with Chipu but he also went ahead to win that year’s Stanbic Bank National Sevens Circuit with club side KCB and represent Simbas and Shujaa respectively. He crowned off the year by being awarded the Most Promising Male Athlete at the Sports Personality of the Year Award (SOYA Awards).

GETTING INTO RUGBY

He says, “ I was motivated to get into rugby because of the allure of leaving school for outings. I almost contemplated going back to basketball after receiving a thumping tackle from Trevor Odawa (now at Mean Machine). He popped out of nowhere and tackled me just as I about to score my first ever try.

Joining KRU Championship side Northern Suburbs after completing his studies at Yala was an eye opening experience for the youngster.

He says,” The culture at Suburbs was amazing. We were always there for each other. The spirit of brotherhood was unlike anything else. We would even raise money among ourselves just to honor league fixtures and tournaments.”

Commenting on the move to current club, KCB, Okwach says, “ I knew the environment I was entering was tough and competitive, and this meant me putting in the hard work.”

The winger was fortunate to earn call ups to the Kenya U20s (Chipu), the men’s senior national team (Simbas) and the men’s national sevens team (Shujaa) all in 2019.

Geoffrey Okwach in Victoria Cup action for the Simbas in 2019

EXPERIENCE WITH CHIPU AND SHUJAA

Speaking about his experience with Chipu, Okwach says, “ the chemistry within the team was unbelievable and I believe this played a big part in our victory at the Barthes Cup and subsequent qualification to the World Rugby Junior Trophy in Brazil.”

“The call up to Shujaa was a great experience. The welcome I received from the likes of Andrew Amonde, Collins Injera, Jeff Oluoch, Willy Ambaka to name but a few helped me settle into the squad and gave me a sense of belief.”

BEST AND WORST MOMENTS IN RUGBY

Rugby, just like life has its highs and lows. Okwach notes that winning the Most Promising Male Athlete at the 2019 SOYA Awards is his best rugby moment to date.

He also cites the call ups to the Simbas and Shujaa as being significant memories.

His worst moment in rugby to date? The realization that Kenya is still not yet where it should be in the game of rugby.”

The experience in Brazil during the 2019 World Rugby Junior Trophy was an eye opener but I know that we can improve.”

Okwach in action for his club side KCB during the 2019 Stanbic Bank National Sevens leg in Meru

LESSONS FROM RUGBY AND BUSINESS VENTURES

Discipline and brotherhood are some of the values he has learnt from this sport. “Rugby has taught me so much. The values that we employ in this sport are truly beneficial to us even beyond it because they build our character.”

For a very long time, Okwach has been working on having his own business so much so that over the years, he has been saving up to start one.

“Being my own Boss is something that pushes me to better myself. I want to build my own empire that will help a lot of people in the future.

His love for food propelled him to start his Qwachfoods business where he sells a variety of fresh meats and chilies.

This however,he says, is a first of many as he intends to broaden the business and tap into other markets not just the food industry.

Kenya’s Geofrey Okwach races away from the South Africa defense for a try on day two of the HSBC New Zealand Sevens 2020 men’s competition at FMG Stadium Waikato on 26 January, 2020 in Hamilton, New Zealand. Photo credit: Mike Lee – KLC fotos for World Rugby

Due to the covid19 pandemic, he has faced several challenges especially on the financial front since some of his customers had to cut down on their expenses. He has however managed to weather this storm and Qwachfoods remains operational.

He admits that juggling school, rugby and work is not easy but his yearning for certain achievements in the three fields is what gets him up in the morning and pushes him to be better. Okwach wants to don the National Team colours for many years to come and also turn into a pro-rugby player, he wants to see his business flourish and is working hard to become one of Kenya’s best lawyers. “I want to conquer the unconquered.” He concludes.

This article first appeared in the November 2020 edition of Game Live magazine which is available on this link https://www.kru.co.ke/magazine/magazine-november-2020/

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