If someone had told Bethuel Anami Muteshi a decade ago that he would become a Kenyan International and find himself based in France, he would have dismissed it as a joke or ridicule.
The Stade Caennaise RC forward shared with Scrummage Africa that he initially joined the sport in December 2012 under the influence of friends. However, he initially evaded the rugby field to explore football.
“My friends introduced me to the game a while ago, in December 2012. But then I wasn’t into it…for the better part of December I started avoiding them just to go play football,” he revealed.
Anami’s perspective on rugby underwent a transformation when he joined St Peter’s Mumias.
Recognizing the potential for scholarships through the sport, he realized it could alleviate the financial struggles his family faced in paying school fees.
“When I started high school, I learned that there were scholarship opportunities available for students on the school team after high school. This immediately caught my attention because I knew that getting a scholarship after high school would be a huge help, especially since my family had struggled to keep up with paying school fees in the past,” he stated.
“As I continued to play and improve, I began to appreciate the game more and more. It’s amazing to think that something that started as trials of different sports could have such a big impact on my future,” he added.
Anami admitted that representing the nation and securing a deal abroad were beyond his initial imagination in his early days in the games.
His primary goal was to leverage the opportunity to pursue his studies and eventually transition back to playing football for leisure.
“Honestly, I never imagined playing at that level of representing the country. For me, I just wanted to leverage the opportunity to pursue my studies and later leave rugby and continue playing football for fun. But with training, I improved my skills and the rest is a story I’m still writing,” he noted.
Unlike some rugby players who face parental concerns about the sport’s safety, Anami’s mother supported his rugby journey.
“When I first started playing rugby my mum was understanding because she saw the benefits it provided, and she always wanted to be actively involved in games. She didn’t have to worry about me being sent home for not paying school fees,” he revealed.
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However, after experiencing his first serious injury, his mother became concerned and urged him to quit the sport altogether. Anami also faced challenges in balancing academics and sports initially, leading him to contemplate quitting.
He eventually found a way to manage both thanks to coach Libondo Shimenga and Eric Chebutala.
While at St Mumias, Anami achieved significant rugby success, including winning the National 7s title, the East African Bronze title, and the historic East Africa 7s title when St Peters became the first Kenyan side to achieve this feat.
Bethuel Anami after high School
After completing high school, the Kenya Simbas backrower found himself at Strathmore Leos, thanks to a scouting opportunity provided by Mitch Ocholla. Anami went on to secure a scholarship that fulfilled his aspirations from his high school days, allowing him to pursue a degree in Commerce.
His time at Strathmore proved successful, winning the Floodlit Varsity category in 2019 and earning the titles of Most Valuable Player and top try scorer. Anami’s contributions played a crucial role in Strathmore’s promotion to the Kenya Cup.
His tenure at the club included back-to-back Kenya Cup semi-final appearances in the 2021 and 2021/2022 seasons, with Anami also claiming the Top Try Scorer award in the Kenya Cup 2020/2021 campaign.
Reflecting on his experiences at Strathmore, Anami expressed enjoyment in working with his teammates both on and off the field. The camaraderie and support, not just in rugby but also academically, created a positive environment.
“I enjoyed playing alongside my teammates. The 27 mantra, we all worked together to achieve our goals and support each other through the challenges. Not only on the rugby field, we encouraged and pushed each other even in class. And just the campus vibe,” he said.
He emphasized the importance of having medical insurance for the club, providing players with the confidence to play without fear.
“Medical insurance is a basic requirement for rugby teams but few clubs in Kenya have that access to it. It always gave me the urge to play without fear,” Anami revealed.
Anami’s breakthrough at the national level came in 2022 when he was selected to play for the Kenya Simbas in the Currie Cup after being overlooked several times. His debut in South Africa against Griffons marked the beginning of an impressive start to his international career.
Anami held the jersey number eight throughout the Currie Cup and made his test debut against Uganda in the Rugby Africa Cup held in France. He continued to represent Kenya in subsequent tests against Algeria and Namibia when the Simbas finished second featured in three more tests in the Repechage in France.
The experience with the Kenya Simbas was described by Anami as a great honour, filled with valuable lessons. He appreciated the exposure to high-performance training facilities in South Africa.
“It’s a great honour to represent the country. It felt amazing being in such an environment. Representing your country comes with pride. The experience was amazing.
“It came with learning alot, growing skill levels and the diversification and integration of players from different clubs. Being exposed to high-performance training unlike at the club level where we had only three training sessions a week. It was a good experience for sure,” he pointed out.
Bethuel Anami’s lessons
Anami highlighted the importance of a positive mindset and patience, citing them as crucial lessons learned during his time with the Kenya Simbas. Despite facing challenges and waiting for opportunities, he focused on improvement and impressing when he was given the chance.
“The sportsmanship aspect.Having a positive mindset even on the days you not getting selected. Being patient while you work on yourself. I had to be patient and keep on improving as I waited for my time to come. Getting the basics right and trying to connect with what coaches wanted. And when I was given the opportunity I had to impress.”
During the Rugby Africa Cup, which also served as World Cup qualifiers, Anami caught the attention of scouts from Stade Caennaise RC. This led to his signing with the French club in January 2023, marking a new step in his professional rugby career.
Looking back at his senior playing career, Anami identified three standout moments: his maiden call-up to the national team, the victory against Algeria in the Rugby World Cup Qualifiers, and signing for Stade Caennaise RC in France. These moments, he said, define the best of his career so far.
“That call up to the national team, the win against Algeria in rugby World Cup Qualifiers and making this professional move to play rugby in France stand out,” he said.
Anami us currently in his second season with Stade Caennaise RC where they are currently leading their respective pool.