NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 22 – There have been mixed reactions on the culture of Shujaa players dancing on tour during the World Sevens Series; while some love the moves and the fun that comes with it, some think it is a distraction and a swerve from focus.
But the players believe it is a way of relaxing, getting themselves to a happy place, and energizing for match days.
“If you don’t enjoy the sport, then there is no need doing it. You have to be happy and enjoy playing,” Collins Injera, a trailblazing Shujaa star says.
The video of the players dancing to Nadia Mukami’s hit song ‘Ni Maombi’ went viral on social media prior to the Hamilton leg of the World Sevens Series, everyone being wowed by the sleek dance moves and the fun the players were having in the video.
Speaking to Capital Sports, Kenya Sevens players say they do love to dance to get themselves happy, reduce the stress and tension of match days and improve the camaraderie within the squad and get them firing on all cylinders.
Jeff Oluoch, also a professional choreographer is the mastermind of all the dance moves and he says his background as a dancer helps him come up with various moves, not only for the national team but his club Homeboyz RFC.
“The relationship between me and dancing started way back even before I started taking dancing seriously. I used to have a dance crew in Nanyuki and I was the lead choreographer so when I came into rugby, it was a seamless blend,” Oluoch explains.
“So what happens every time, the guys choose a track and then give me like 20 minutes to come up with something, then we practice together and then record something small,” he adds.
But why do they dance? The players explain.
“Dancing is actually a huge deal for us. If you look at my social media, every time before a match I post videos of us having fun before the game in the changing room. It helps us to reduce tension. Most say it is a loss of focus but no; the focus is still there and we are only enhancing it,”
“Everyone has their own pre-game rituals. For me it is music; I just listen in to some hip hop and get myself in the zone. As a team, if we dance we feel energized, we feel happy and generally, to ensure everyone is in a happy place. It plays a big role in the team,” Oluoch explains.
Skipper Andrew Amonde states; “For us this is just a way of relaxing. We find it a lot of fun dancing because it helps us relax our minds. It makes us happy, reduces pre-game tension and helps us relax and focus.”
Injera adds on; “This is a culture that we found in the team and we got on with it. We love to celebrate every little victory and that is why we dance after tries coz there is some time. If we could have time whenever someone makes a big hit in the game, we would dance as well,”
“It is not something that makes us lose focus. For us, it is part of relaxation and a way of putting everyone in a happy place. We also do it off the field to just drive our minds away from rugby and relax to recharge our batteries,” he added.
Technical Director Paul Feeney is also a fan of the boys having some good time, dancing and feeling themselves.
“Whenever I see them have a little dance before a game, then I know they are in a good space. I would be worried if I didn’t see them dancing,” Feeney stated.
Mr. Choreographer Oluoch says the dance culture is not just about to stop, because… nobody can stop reggae!.
But, while everyone sees the perfectly crafted dances after the final video is out, how hard is it for the gang leaders to get all perfect.
“To be honest it is not easy. Having a dance is one thing, but having everyone doing it well is another. There are some good dancers, then there are some terrible dancers,”
“Andrew and Willy… aaah stiff stiff stiff… maybe it’s because of the gym and stuff, but they need a lot of work. There is Daniel Taabu also…. Boy cannot dance!” Oluoch chuckles.
He adds; “There are some good ones; minus me of course, there is Buffa (Alvin Otieno) and Nelson (Oyoo) who are really good. But at least we accommodate everyone.”
In his defense, Amonde says he still enjoys his two left feet; “(Laughs) you know dancing is not for everyone. I just enjoy my body moving but I will improve with time.”