Marylynne Injehu reflects on overcoming early challenges on path to rugby refereeing

Marylynne Injehu in a past match. Photo/Marylynne Injehu

In the world of rugby, it’s not just the players who dream of reaching the pinnacle of the sport. Behind every scrum, line-out, and try, there are individuals like Marylynne Injehu, a young and determined second-year electrical engineer student at Sigalagala Polytechnic, who is a rugby referee, whose ambition knows no bounds.

At an age when most youngsters are spectators, Marylynne, who hails from Sigalagala, Kakamega county is blazing a trail towards her dream of officiating top-tier rugby matches.

Marylynne Injehu’s love

Marylynne’s love affair with rugby began at an early age, before enrolling at Eregi Girls High School, in Kakamega where she started playing rugby.

Marylynne Injehu signals in a past match. Photo/Marylynne Injehu

Marylynne Injehu signals in a past match. Photo/Marylynne Injehu

However, it was not long before she realized that her true calling was not to play but to officiate the game

“My high school teacher Mr. Mugera played a key role in my transition from player to referee, he saw potential in me and advised me to venture into officiating, I owe him much respect” she told the Scrummage Africa

Becoming a rugby referee, especially as a young woman, is not the most conventional choice. Marylynne faced scepticism and challenges along the way, but her determination only grew stronger. She enrolled in referee training programs, attended workshops, and spent countless hours studying the rulebook.

Her dedication soon paid off as she began officiating local youth and third tiers Kenya Rugby Union Western regional nationwide competition.

“It wasn’t an easy journey, faced some hurdles with some people looking down upon me, but that didn’t make me quit, some of my friends didn’t take it seriously when I was officiating them(laughs) so it was like that but with time they got used” she said.

Despite initial doubts, her confident and precise decision-making on the field quickly earned her the respect of players and coaches alike.

“Unlike at the beginning where officiating big players like props then they shout at me made me almost quit, sometimes I faced abusive and rowdy tacticians who disagreed with my decision, I came to learn that’s part of my work challenges and got used to it” she lamented.

Marylynne Injehu’s targets

Marylynne’s ambitions soared to new heights as she set her sights on officiating top-tier rugby matches. Her journey has been marked by constant learning and improvement. She credits fellow referees for providing invaluable guidance and support.

“Mr. Collins Wekesa has really helped me, he has been correcting and guiding me to become who I am today, she added.

“My goals as a lady rugby referee, I want to be the first Luhya, Idakho sub-tribe to be precise to officiate at Rugby Afrique, that’s my main ambition,” she said.

Marylynne has also lived one of her dreams, thanks to the 2023 national sevens circuit, where she earned the opportunity to run matches in the division two category and looks forward to officiating the Kenya Cup matches in the near future.

Marylynne Injehu second from left with her work mates. Photo/Marylynne Injehu

Marylynne Injehu second from left with her work mates. Photo/Marylynne Injehu

To achieve her dream, Marylynne continues to work tirelessly. She stays updated with the latest rule changes, participates in fitness programs, and regularly attends referee seminars. Her passion for rugby and her role as a referee shine through in every match she officiates.

Asked on her advice to those young ladies looking upon her, Marylynne offered a word to aspiring ladies.

“There’s no hard task that’s unachievable, young ladies should embrace officiating for our rugby to grow, it’s very possible and I urge them to come out and join us” she concluded.

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