(By Adrian Washika)
The 2014 USA leg of the IRB 7s came a little earlier this year, January 24th-27th, as opposed the usual valentine weekend in February and the Kenyan fans descended from all over the United States and beyond. Capital FM was there to capture the sights and sounds as the fast and exciting game of seven-a-side rugby came to the beautiful city of Las Vegas, which in itself is considered a playground of its own.
Walking through the Las Vegas strip and marveling at the architecture and side walk performers, I bumped into many Kenyan fans sight seeing, shopping and eating at the many restaurants and hotels. We were here to represent for our team.
The Kenya team reception and a meet and greet event took place on Thursday 23rd at the Hard Rock hotel and was a well attended affair, well organized by Kenya Connect, steered by Jennny Gachui and Alex Owino. Earlier that day they had also organized the 3rd annual Kenyans Connect golf tournament at the Las Vegas National Golf Club. First place went to Anthony Njenga ofCalifornia , second place (1st runner up) was Laban Muriithi also from California. Third place (2nd runner up) went to Elijah Ochung of Washington DC.
June Gachui was MC of the night at the meet and greet event and the event was graced by Kenya Rugby Union officials, Sam Muthee, Sasha Mutai and KadiedaOgutu who all addressed the fans who had attended. Kenyan ambassador, Jean Kamau also gave a word of encouragement to the team as the night ended with a raffle and music by Chicagos’sDj Top Donn and Otieno V from Atlanta.
Sam Boyd stadium was the venue for the USA sevens as has been its home for the last couple of years since moving from San Diego and Los Angeles. As usual the Kenyan fans flooded one side of the stadium draped in the red, green and black and were the loudest especially when the Kenya team took onto the pitch. The traditional rugby chants filled the air and other spectators couldn’t help but join in to cheers on our boys or if not just enjoy the dance and pomp. There were the ‘isukuti’ drums, vuvuzelas and horns to add on to the celebrations whenever a Kenya try was made.
Back at the rugby village at the stadium, the food court was a beehive of activity with everyone experiencing the different flavors of food and drink from all over the world. There was always a long line at the Kenyan kitchen, run by Jennifer Gachui and her team of girls, the WATU crew, working tirelessly to fulfill the orders of samosas and masala chips that were coming in quick and fast. Kenyan tea was also available for those cold Vegas evenings. It was very noticeable the number of none Kenyans who were patiently waiting in the queue to have a taste of what Kenya had to offer.
The Kenya Korner was another key element at the rugby village, which had a number of vendors selling Kenyan merchandise and also brought in Kenyan corporates who wanted to reach out to the diaspora in offering their services of banking and investment back home. These included UAP, KCB and the Kenya USA Diaspora Sacco. Capital fm also represented and fans had the opportunity to come to the booth to send shout outs and greetings to their loved ones back home, which were recorded to be broadcast on Capital Fm radio.
The night time events after the rugby games saw the fans being treated to various shows and entertainment by Kenyan deejays and artists like Wyre and Jamaican, Tarrus Riley.
It was a truly a great well deserved vacation for many fans and also a great opportunity to meet up with friends and family from all over the states and beyond as we all came together to support the Kenya sevens team that we love so much.
See you next year.