The country’s enchanting spell is what convinced coveted Paul Treu, who ended his eight-year reign as head coach to South Africa national rugby sevens team the Blitz Bokke in October, decide to take up the Kenyan job despite interest from far more developed nations.
“There was something that pulled us here and we just want to enjoy every single day and every single opportunity.
“I had other offers and the option to remain with South Africa but once we met with the players and see how humble they are and how hungry they are for success, we could not go to another place,” the easy-going tactician who stands at about 5ft 8ins tall said of the magnetic attraction that brought him here.
His era at the helm of a team that has captivated the globe by its sheer raw talent and giant-killing exploits on the HSBC World Series and the past two Rugby World Cup Sevens officially began on Tuesday when Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) unveiled him to the media.
As he went through the motions of acquainting himself with the battery of press hounds, Treu projected someone very much at home as opposed to the newbie in town many expected him to be and soon, it was apparent why.
“This is where my coaching career started, way back in 2003 when I was coaching our Emerging Boks team at the Safari 7s or Tusker 7s at the time. This is almost a full circle to me, this where it started and I’m back in Kenya.”
During his formal presentation, it emerged that Treu’s brief was not only to ensure the boys are bashing everyone left, right and centre, but rather, he has been hired to lay the structures that will make Kenya a global power in the shorter version of the event.
His official designation is Performance Director and Head Coach as he came in with the majority of his back room staff at the Blitz Bokke to mould a programme that will lead to the development of more players and local coaches.
“You often look at places and people where there is the best potential to grow to be a medal contender. We want to go to a place make an impact in people’s lives, touch peoples lives and this is the perfect place, we couldn’t ask for a better place.
“It was important to me when I started to negotiate with Kenya that this is a long term strategy. Kenya Rugby Union cannot always go out and look for external coaches.
“The first target is we would like the team to qualify for the Olympics and be a medal contender and secondly, we would like to start capacitating the coaches to ensure Kenya has a pool of coaches to select from when the next coach needs to be appointed,” Treu underlined his mandate, mission and goals.
“We would like to make this team as competitive as possible. Since 2001 when they started to participate in the series, they have never won a tournament. This is something for the players to aspire to, this is a target they have put for themselves and let’s see what they can achieve as a team.
“For the remainder of this season and hopefully 2014/15 season, our main priority is to makes sure we are a Cup contender and hopefully, win our first tournament,” he added.
KRU boss, Mwangi Muthee, who was beaming throughout the function shed light on the delicate negotiation process that lasted well over two months to get Treu’s signature.
“This is good for the Kenya sevens team, KRU, Kenya and Africa and I’m very happy to see the new coaching panel is coming from an African nations.
“South Africa will influence Kenyan rugby for a long time to come. We know the responsibilities we have put on the shoulders of Treu in qualifying for Rio 2016 and in the process, if we win one or two HSBC Series will be a bonus,” Muthee who admitted the deal was clinched through the huge financial outlay by their title sponsors, Kenya Airways, described.
“Getting Mike (Friday) was not easy but getting Paul was even tougher because he wanted to come and put down structures. He wanted to come with a team.
“He has Attack Coach, Strength and Conditioning Coach and Dr. Karen Schwabe who is coming in January who will help us set up the sports medicine structures and many other professionals in the ladder,” the Union boss added on why the discussions were protracted in reference to Treu’s English immediate predecessor who came in with New Zealander Chris Brown who was in charge of strength and conditioning.
Attack coach Vuyo Zangqa and strength and conditioning head Graham Bentz came in with Treu on Monday with other foreign members of the expanded technical bench.
“We must plan and for Operation Rio to be successful, we cannot say we shall start to plan for it in 2014 or 2015, it will be too late,” Muthee explains why Treu was signed on for three years.