After an impressive five-year career representing the Kenya women’s national rugby team, Everlyne Kalamera will play her final match for the Lionesses in today’s Elgon Cup fixture against Uganda’s Lady Cranes at the Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium.
Everlyne recently played a vital role in the WXV3 Dubai tournament, where she helped the Lionesses maintain their status by competing against Spain, Kazakhstan, and Colombia.
The 39-year-old’s rugby journey began in 2015 when she joined the Mwamba Rugby Club, inspired by her elder brother, Michael Shibadu, who played for Blak Blad and Mwamba. A newspaper cut-out of the legendary Jonah Lomu hanging in her brother’s room caught Everlyne’s attention and ignited her passion for the sport. She knew then that rugby was her calling.
As a utility prop, playing both as a loose and tight head, Everlyne made significant contributions to the national team. Despite inevitable obstacles, she expresses deep gratitude for the opportunities she had to wear the black, white, red, and green colours of Kenya. Since the reinstatement of the women’s XV rugby in 2019, Everlyne has been a consistent presence in the team, a testament to her skill, dedication, and unwavering commitment.
Throughout her career, Everlyne experienced many memorable moments. Winning the Elgon Cup during her debut in 2019 stands as a remarkable achievement. Another highlight was playing the full 80 minutes in the Rugby World Cup repechage qualifiers against Colombia at Nyayo Stadium, where she showcased her endurance and unwavering strength.
The victory in the Rugby Africa Women Cup Pool B in Uganda holds a special place in her heart. Although she fell just short of scoring a try against South Africa, which had been her personal goal, Everlyne’s perseverance and determination shone through.
Everlyne is deeply grateful for the support and inspiration she received from her coaches. Sam Njogu, the former Kenya Lionesses strength and conditioning coach, always believed in her capabilities, even during moments of self-doubt. He provided her with a sense of purpose and belonging within the team. Philip Wesonga, her first Mwamba coach, constantly reminded her that she was meant for the Kenyan jersey, instilling in her a warrior mentality.
Although Everlyne retires without achieving her goal of scoring a try against South Africa, she looks back on her career with gratitude and appreciation. She wonders what might have been had she started her rugby journey earlier in her twenties but acknowledges that her present achievements have molded her into the phenomenal player she is today.
As Everlyne embarks on the next phase of her life, she plans to focus on her professional development, which she had partially put on hold during her rugby career. However, she will continue to be involved in the rugby community, continuing to play for the Mwamba Rugby Club and coaching aspiring young athletes.
With various World Rugby badges under her belt, she eagerly anticipates the opportunity to take on non-player roles in the future.
Everlyne’s parting advice to fellow athletes is to establish a stable life outside of rugby. She encourages others to pursue their studies, develop a diverse professional profile, and add value to their rugby careers.
As we bid farewell to Everlyne Kalamera, her incredible contributions, dedication, and unwavering passion for the sport will forever be cherished in the history of Kenyan rugby. Thank you, Everlyne, for inspiring us all and reminding us that greatness extends far beyond the rugby field.