Given her naturally born energetic nature and how quickly she shifted that energy to the rugby pitch, it is little wonder that the entire existence of Kenya rugby star Knight Otwoma is devoted to high performance, training right, and defining the talents of her generation and the generations to come.
“Naturally I was born strong and I wanted a sport that I could use my strength.”
Scrummage Africa caught up with Otwoma, who believes she is on the trajectory she has designed for herself after years defined by her two all-time greats- Peris Mukoko and Mary Achieng.
TRAINING WITH KISUMU RFC
What sets her apart is that she understands innately the game, having trained with Kisumu RFC men’s team. She understands that in order to be a global icon in the game, one must embrace qualities that come along with it such as discipline, hard work, patience, positive thinking, and teamwork.
Knight’s first dot on the rugby pitch appeared when she was training with Kisumu Rugby men’s team in 2016. At the time, she was the only lady training with the men.
Training with Kisumu RFC came with its challenges, and Knight describes lack of courage especially on rucks and scrum sessions and scouting ladies to join her as her main challenges in her early days in the game..
“I was the only lady training with men and I had not gained enough courage to train with them especially on rucks and scrum sessions so I could only do the passes with them and then sit out. Another challenge was I could try and scout for ladies to join me but they couldn’t stay for long since most of them had that mindset of “being paid”.
While at Kisumu RFC, Knight generated enough attention and it was only mutual for the ladies’ national team to keep tabs on her.
FOUNDING KISUMU DOLPHINS
It was the experience of training with the boys that motivated her to start Kisumu Dolphins, which is now a growing ladies’ team in the area.
MOVE TO NAIROBI
However, commuting from Kisumu to Nairobi proved to be challenging, and she resorted to relocating to Nairobi to save on costs. It was in Nairobi that she set foot on the Northern Suburbs training ground.
“After getting a call-up for the national team commuting from Kisumu to Nairobi and back was hectic so I had to relocate to Nairobi and join a club in the city. Several clubs contacted me but I chose Impala.”
It helps when the results tell you it is working too. In 2019, Knight bumped her status up from Northern Suburbs to one of the most important players of her generation. This was after she was named in the dream team thrice.
The first move was her first camp with the Kenya Lionesses back in April 2019 when the lionesses were preparing for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers. Knight describes that camp as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“My first camp was in April 2019, we were preparing for 2022 World Cup Qualifiers and it was a good experience, being a rookie you don’t talk much.”
MAKING HER KENYAN TEAM DEBUT
She would then play her first game with the lionesses in June of that year; the Elgon Cup in Kisumu. Being a home game and playing at her home ground for the first time, Knight admits that the pressure was too much.
“My first game with the Lionesses was in June 2019 (Elgon Cup in Kisumu). The pressure was too much especially from my fans because we played it in what was my home ground.”
Her other major achievements included winning the overall 10-aside tournament in 2017 while playing for Suburbs at the time. She also credits herself to captaining Impala Yamanashi to their first ever Kenya Cup, and the side reached the final stage by seeing off Mwamba Ladies. She was also part of the team that helped Impala win the Prinsloo title.
Knight knew what she wanted to live up to. As an energetic kid, Knight saw Philadelphia Orlando, Irene, and Doreen as players who defined greatness. She has since lived up to copy paste their careers to make her own history.
“I used to watch ladies play rugby on TV the likes of Philadelphia, Irene and Doreen and so I started training with Kisumu rugby Men’s team in 2016.”
KNIGHT MAKING HISTORY
Part of making history was wearing the Kenyan jersey. According to Knight, that moment gave her goosebumps and tears of joy as she viewed it as a dream come true.
“Donning the Kenyan Jersey itself gave me goose bumps, tears of joy and it was a great achievement because it was a dream come true to me.”
The Impala ladies hype machine, as her teammates describe her, disclosed that she will resort to coaching and being a CMO after rugby. She advises other players to go for what they want. She also revealed that discipline, hard work, patience, teamwork and positive thinking are some of the key lessons rugby has taught her so far.
“Discipline, hardwork, being patient, teamwork, positive thinking hata kama uko bence haha and last one is if you want something just go for it/ grab it. After rugby I will focus on coaching and being a CMO.” She concluded.
Knight Otwoma fact file
Name: Knight Otwoma
Weight: 80 kgs
Clubs: Kisumu RFC, Northern Suburbs, Impala RFC
National 15s debut: 2019 Elgon Cup, Founder Kisumu Dolphins