Written by Linda Doreen Otieno, a Lapid Leader
How can you convince an ordinary African man, that the right to sport is a fundamental human right? That was a question by my university supervisor that shed some reality into my dreams. It was then that I decided to prove that this statement was feasible. I am a lover of sports and all its components. I can talk about football, rugby, athletics, you name it, all day and night. I needed to settle on one sport, field hockey is the sport my heart settled on.
I was very sporty in primary school. Running was what I did during any break and sports day, although it’s not like there was much to choose from as I was the only girl in my class interested in football.
When I joined high school, I was very excited to be at a higher level, I was excited to be “growing up”. Every time I walked to or from class in the evening, I would pause and admire the ladies using curved sticks and chasing a really hard ball with the sticks. They had pace, hunger, passion and I really admired them. I can’t fully describe what I saw but what I know is they won and I wanted to be part of their consistent wins that even took them to play in other countries at that stage.
And so I left football and tried out hockey. My advantage was I was fast and even though it was difficult to get into the main team, my coach motivated me to be the best that I could be regardless of the little bullying from my seniors. That was how I fell in love with hockey. I didn’t stop and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.
Sports and Law?
When I finished high school, I joined university and pursued a degree in Law. I always said I will be a doctor, but I also knew I am a lazy reader…so why not pursue Law and learn how to read hahaah!
It was in my third year that I realized God led me to Law School. I discovered sports law! It was a Eureka moment for me . Soon after I began to wonder if Sports Law was even practiced in Kenya. All my excitement was constantly cancelled by negative feedback on how practicing Sports Law in Africa is a pipe-dream . This was until I came across Center for Sports Law . The Center for Sports Law in Kenya was founded by Elvis Siema Majani, and he has mentored me in the field. He has been a great mentor!
Anyway, back to my story…the reason why I speak about my love for sport and career is because of the challenges I faced. I was denied an opportunity to participate in the under-16 hockey championships while in high school because our Principal did not regard sport as important as education. After high school, I got a chance to try out for the under-21 but this time I denied myself the opportunity to push on to the ultimate level of representing our country.
Sport in Kenya is highly neglected. In addition, women are not well represented. I chose to be different. I have also joined Tom Olal, a man who is training young kids who are interested in hockey. His vision is to change the face of hockey in Kenya by pushing it to a similar or even higher level than athletics in Kenya. I still get ridiculed for playing with children through Tom Olal’s program, but I always remind myself that no one can make me feel inferior without my permission. Playing with these children gives me a sense of satisfaction, knowing that in future, my child will be in a safer environment if they desire to play hockey.
To greater heights…
This is my current pursuit in life at the moment, to become a better sportsperson daily, but also to mentor younger children who are interested in sports. I thank God for bringing me to Lapid Leaders where I have learnt so much on faith, and being a leader who not only leads, but can be led. I have known myself so much more and this will help me accomplish my goals.
I am already impacting the field of sports in Kenya by mentoring young ones through hockey and teaching them how to lead a purposeful life not only for them, but future generations. I always pray that God will continue using my talent and legal knowledge to set the bar for sport as a human right in Kenya. It won’t be easy but one thing that keeps me going is a verse in Ecclesiastes which says that whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with might.
More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of…!