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Roysambu’s rise is good news for our cricket

Tucked away in a corner of Zimmerman estate, Roysambu Primary has grown into one of Kenya’s growing cricket schools in the past six years.

Although the sport is not common in primary schools, Roysambu has taken it seriously and their hard work is paying off as more pupils are getting interested.

Cricket was introduced at Roysambu by Cricket Kenya (CK)’s age-grade Nairobi County coach Joseph Angara, who proposed the idea to the headmistress Sarah Nyota, and the games master Josephat Kanyi.

Kanyi, and a former teacher at the school Ann Kimuri, went through a one-day seminar where they learnt about the game, its rules and mode of play.

“It was during the seminar that my interest grew, and I ended up enjoying it. It took a while to learn the sport. Had I been introduced to it when I was younger, I would have even played it,” said Kanyi.

Eyeing titles

The two teachers assembled a group of class six pupils who were interested in cricket, and took them through training for a whole year before enrolling in a tournament.

The aim was to ensure that when they took part in a championship, they would go in as title challengers and not just to honour fixtures.

“After regular practice, the team’s performance improved. When we took part in our first mini-cricket tournament at Utalii grounds in Ruaraka in 2010, our girls won the title while the boys were second,” said Kanyi.

The following year, roles were reversed as the boys’ team won the title and the girls’ came in second.

In 2012, since most of the players were in class eight and they participated in less extra-curricular activities. This dealt the school a major blow, as they had to start building another team from scratch.

“We picked another lot of class six students last year, and took them through the same training process. They appear to have grasped the sport just as fast as the 2010-2011 lot. With players such as Dominic Sese, Kevin Munene and Damaris Akinyi, our teams can take on any opponent,” said Kanyi.

Having learnt from the 2012 slump, Kanyi has already started plans of recruiting the next lot of pupils to ensure continuity.

The teams train every day to keep fit and polish their moves. Since there is limited time because of a demanding syllabus, the players use the breaks between classes to train.

Faced challenges

“The players are so passionate about the sport that even when I am not around, they train on their own. We also have training on some Sunday afternoons, especially when we are about to take part in a tournament. During such sessions, we sharpen our skills and set targets,” said Kanyi.

Success has not come easy for the school, as they have had to endure several challenges. Equipment, transport and food costs are the least of their worries as CK takes care of that.

“The biggest challenge we face is that the ground we are using was a swamp that well-wishers reclaimed last year. It is uneven but there are plans to level it,” said Kanyi.

Parents have also had to dig into their pockets to buy their children training kit and Kanyi said the response was good.

Before they acquired track suits, pupils would train in their uniform. The school has also been very supportive of the sport, and that is the reason it is rising steadily.

Kanyi and Angara make an effort to get some of their pupils into cricket playing secondary schools once they finish their primary education.

But this has been a challenge because it is not easy to convince parents who have set their minds on particular schools.

“Most secondary schools that play cricket are in Nairobi but parents seem to have more faith in those that are in the countryside. It would give me great joy to see my players continuing with the sport in high school, and even further until they play for Kenya,” said Kanyi.

The headmistress is grateful because cricket is one of the school’s best performing sports alongside athletics. She said it had boosted the morale of children, and given them a chance to interact with students from other schools.

“Two of our students, Andrew Tyson and Khot Ayuel, represented us at the national athletics championship last year and we are proud of them,” said Nyota.

“I am glad that cricket has joined the ranks of the performing sports in our school. Our student Damaris Akinyi is part of a select team – Maisha that will tour Norway later this year,” she said.

Each of the Roysambu’s teams has 10 players and reserves. While Kanyi believes the boys’ team looks like it may do better, the girls are not left behind.

Cricket Kenya has organised a number of tournaments this year, and Kanyi’s players want to win all titles on offer.

 

Kanyi, who also coaches volleyball, has been at the school since 2003 when he was made games master.

“I would like to improve my coaching skills further, because I realised that cricket could give the young generation better options in life. Other schools should also take up the sport for faster growth,” said Kanyi.

The Thika Technical School alumnus played badminton in high school, but stopped because it was not a popular sport at the time.