NAIROBI, Kenya, May 2- As the rugby fraternity comes to terms with the untimely demise of national 15s women’s team captain Aberdeen Shikhoyi, her family eulogised her as a brave and determined sportswoman with big dreams for her flourishing career.
Shikhoyi succumbed to spinal injuries on Saturday evening after she was hospitalised following a tackle from a Ugandan player in the first leg of the Elgon Cup played in Kampala a fortnight ago.
Arrangements are underway for her May 15 funeral at her home in Kakamega and her elder brother Livingstone Lihanda praised her exploits in a game they considered rough during her early years into the sport.
“Aberdeen was involved in various sports right from primary school but her passion grew during her high school days at Makhohko Girls where she was instrumental in the school’s sporting successes.”
“At first we were not for her idea of choosing to play rugby due to the risks involved but with time, we accepted her determination, got involved more even with finances with the resolve to give her the support she deserved,” said Lihanda.
The family is still grieving of the loss of Shikhoyi who has won the Elgon Cup twice with the national side she led.
“We are still in shock since we didn’t expect she would return from Uganda in such serious condition, having seen her off in great sprits,” expressed Lihanda after a meeting with the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU).
Mwangi Muthee, the Union’s chairman paid tribute to the former Mwamba Invaders captain as a leader whose services to rugby will be greatly missed in many years to come.
“Aberdeen’s demise is not only shared by her family but by the entire rugby fraternity as we will always commit to memory her contribution to the sport and her pride as she donned the national colours”
“The rugby fraternity is thankful for her dedication as captain and feel saddened by this untimely loss since she was valiant and showed it both on and off the pitch,” added Muthee.
Shikhoyi’s last appearance was in first leg of the Elgon Cup clash where her team lost 6-15 but rallied to retain it in her absence on a 21-18 aggregate after edging out Uganda 15-3 in the return fixture in Nairobi.
The match was watched by a few family members as the team dedicated the win to her quick recovery but she sadly passed on a few hours later.
“Although most of us were not able to watch her performances on the pitch, we always made sure to catch the proceedings on our sets and keep each other updated by the minute.
“In hospital she was upbeat about making a triumphant return and participating in the return fixture which she termed as some unfinished business, oblivious of the extent of her injuries which would rule her out for several weeks or even months,” Lihanda revealed.
Shikhoyi as the last born daughter in a family of 11 and the only one who took up sports and will be fondly remembered for her vision to ensure a steady development of women’s rugby in the country.
“She was aware that the fears of injury were still in some of our family members and was making plans to take up coaching in a few years in a bid to cut off active involvement on the pitch,” her brother intoned.
The joint funeral committee by the union and the family has scheduled a fundraising on Saturday at the Railways Club with two requiem masses to be held on Monday at Friends Church, Ngong Road and Thursday (Friends Church, Maringo) ahead of the final journey to Kakamega.
KRU has promised to fully support her family as the chairman thanked Uganda Rugby Union and the medical teams in both countries who ensured that Shikhoyi, 27, received the best medical treatment possible.
“We never compromise on the safety of our players and as we learn from this misfortune, efforts will be doubled with regard to regular refresher clinics to coaches, players and referees on the approaches to the game at all levels in the country.”
“The match officials at the Bamburi Super Series will be expected to uphold discipline and follow all the rules in the book in addition to let fair-play prevail throughout the tournament,” affirmed Muthee.