American Football has this year made a return to Kenya, bringing to an end a fourteen year hiatus. The contact sport has been making inroads in several universities in the region with University of Nairobi taking the lead.
Introduced to the University of Nairobi (UoN) in the mid 1990’s by National Football League (NFL) coach Kelly, the game was popular at the university, but slowly died out due to lack of depth in player numbers. The last documented team took to the field in late 1997, but as soon as most of the members graduated, the sport faded into oblivion.
Now, in early 2012, Kelly has come back to reintroduce one of America’s favorite sport, first to UoN and later to other Uniz in East Africa. The NFL intends to develop a reunion for the game as soon as the reception goes beyond varsity borders.
The University of Nairobi still has the kit and equipment donated to them in 1997. Over 50 students have enlisted in the sport, switching from other sports like rugby and football.
Other East African universities have already established the sport, and have been playing for almost a year. Makerere University, Dar-Es-Salaam University and Kigali University all have teams.
University of Nairobi traveled to Dar-es-Salaam in early March to play a friendly against Dar-es-Salaam University, a game they won 8-0, a time they had only trained for a week.
The victory exposed the team’s potential, and as a result they are to be appointed a coach from the United States in June this year. They will also play the return leg of the Dar-es-Salaam game in the same month.
The game has certainly attracted attention, as it has been included in the 2012 East African University games to be held in Kigali in August this year.
It will take a four team format, with University of Nairobi, Makerere University, Dar-es-Salaam University and the hosts Kigali University playing each other in a round robin fashion, after which the top two will play a final.
By Waweeru Kimakia