NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 26 – It is an occurrence common for athletes than footballers, but on Tuesday, national women’s football team Harambee Starlets were treated to a grand reception, punctuated with song and dance, as they landed from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania where they beat the hosts to clinch their first ever CECAFA Women’s Championship title on Monday.
Led out by skipper Dorcas Shikobe, the trophy in tow, top scorer Gentrix Shikangwa, hers in tow as well, the team was received at the airport by the Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Sports Noor Hassan and top Federation officials led by president Nick Mwendwa.
“As a team we are very humbled. I thank God for this. Receiving the team like this motivates all of us as a team and it gives us the energy to want to do more and be in this situation again,” head coach David Ouma told Capital Sport.
His sentiments were shared by striker Mwanahalima Adam who said;
“I want to say thank you to all the Kenyans for supporting us. We promised that we would not let them down and we did not. It feels very special when we are received by this and for sure, we want this to happen again,” stated the striker.
Traditional dancers bellowing out their tunes in deafening crescendo provided the perfect soundtrack to welcome back the team as they savored their glory, clinching the CECAFA title on the third time of asking.
And the girls couldn’t help but join in the song and dance, waving their bouquet of flowers that greeted them once they hit the exit frames of the arrivals lounge.
“It’s a great day and we feel really special,” midfielder Corazon Aquino said as she rhythmically moved her shoulders to blend into the beats of the victorious drums.
Starlets beat hosts Tanzania 2-0 with forward Shikangwa netting twice in the final 20 minutes, earning the girls revenge for the loss they suffered at the hands of the Kilimanjaro Queens in the 2016 final in Jinja, Uganda.
Adam has meanwhile disclosed that the pain of losing to Zambia in the Olympic qualifiers just a day before they travelled to Tanzania pushed them to give their all in Dar where they set a record of clinching the title without losing a game nor conceding a goal.
“It really pained us losing in Zambia especially after fighting hard. As a team we said we had to console ourselves with the CECAFA title and when we got there, all of us did our best,” stated Adam.
The team snaked its way through the busy Mombasa Road and into the Central Business District in their open bus parade as they gleefully showed off their trophy to curious Nairobians who applauded them in return.
The team then made its way through Thika Road and into the Utalii Hotel where they would be hosted for a luncheon by the Federation.