We caught up with former Kenya Sevens international Philip Mwenesi who relived his Safari Sevens memories.
Mwenesi, who spent his entire playing career between 1994 and 2005 at Impala Saracens, sweeping national honors in the fifteens and sevens versions of the game during the early 2000’s, went to serve as team manager at the club as well as the Kenya U19s before taking on the same capacity at Kabras Sugar.
“Futie” as he is widely referred in the local rugby circles recalls his maiden Safari Sevens appearance, saying, “I played my first Safari Sevens tournament in 1998 for the Scorpions, (one of Kenya’s representative sides at the tournament). I was very elated to play and represent my country. The experience was fantastic.”
His enduring memory of the tournament at the RFUEA remains the year 2000 when he was part of the Shujaa squad that won that year’s tournament. Futie vividly remembers this, saying, “ We had a great team of guys including “Smudger” Andrew Smith, Emmanuel Shitote, Arthur Indeche to name but a few. We won the tournament in the absence of the more established players who also did us proud by finishing second to Zimbabwe in the qualifiers (which were played alongside the tournament) and making it to the 2001 Rugby World Cup Sevens. “
As someone who has seen the tournament go full circle from the RFUEA to Nyayo and Kasarani and back again, Futie says, “It time that the union lobbied the government to build a proper rugby stadium, the fan experience at the RFUEA ground is super but the facility for visiting teams are not up to standard. While Nyayo and Kasarani have the facility, they lack on fan experience since the stadium has a track thus the fans are far from the action.”
His parting shot to budding players, “All I can tell them is to stay real and listen to the coaches and above all put their trust in God as he is the reason they are enjoying the game.”