As part of the youth skills celebrations, last week we spoke to 16-year-old Kerry Otieno, an alumnus of the M-Pesa Foundation Academy and an avid rugby player. Kerry has recently graduated with a distinction in business studies and is waiting for university admission in the UK to study economics. Sports and academics have always been a great combination for the youth, and this is clear in Kerry’s case.
His rugby journey started at a very young age when he would follow his brothers and friends to the pitch. At that time, his sole motivation was to get snacks which used to be shared around after games. Little did he know that his innocent beginnings would be the basis of a journey that would have him rubbing shoulders with rugby greats like Collins Injera and Kevin Wamba. It is his rugby prowess that also saw him fly to South Africa for a six-week trial at Michaelhouse School thanks to M-Pesa Foundation Academy. When we met him he had just arrived from SA.
Growing up in Mathare, his interest and participation in rugby grew and the coaches noticed his potential. They nurtured and encouraged him and at just 15 years in Form 3, he joined Mwamba RFC. He played for Kenya Cup at 15, making him the youngest player to get there. He’s now in the Kenya under 20 training squad.
Everything points to Kerry as a shining star and it is no surprise that he is considering playing professional rugby. After all his journey so far has given him a lot of exposure and experience, and M-Pesa foundation academy has offered him conditions that are very conducive for building his craft. For instance, he has been greatly facilitated by the academy’s school gym and the superior nutrition that a high energy sport like rugby requires. These are aside from the general environment of the school which is engineered for learning, living, and self-actualization. The academy has really impacted his life and he promises to do better and do them proud.
Other than a less than fortunate upbringing that often saw him often lack food and miss practice, Kerry’s other challenge is that he is small bodied. This does not affect his game at all but he is constantly swimming against people’s belief that rugby is for a bigger guys. Clearly that does not deter him since as we can see, his star is rising very fast.
We also got to meet Joyce Nyawira, an alumnus of the academy who is pursuing a Bachelor of Law at Strathmore University. Joyce chose law because she loves legal practice and wants to user her voice to contribute towards a just country. A justice system that is not only on paper but in practice. She’s a self-declared future Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Kenya and although she may pursue other options within the legal field, that is the bar she has set for herself.
Joining the M-Pesa Foundation Academy when she had a choice of another well known national school was the best decision that the young lady and her family have ever made. At that time the academy was not only little known but was still under construction. It was the strength of the Safaricom and M-Pesa name that won her father over. For her, the feeling of being a pioneer at the academy and part of its growth is amazing.
The academy has shaped her into a go getter who chases nothing but excellence, and one who wants not just to be a lawyer but the best. On her part, she has taken full advantage of the facilities on offer, the clubs and career fairs, exposure to people with different ideas, and debate clubs which make her think on her toes. She appreciates the learning environment which she describes as excellent.
You do not have to do many things. But do great.