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Nairobi News : December 18th 2013
sport Wednesday, Dec 18 - Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 nairobinews.co.ke 29 University of Nairobi’s American Football team during practice. Below: George Alwanga during the interview. Jeff Angote, NairobiNews l’ll be a star in American ball, says Alwanga ing high. University of Nairobi Nyati player believes the sport is hing on in Kenya and will become popular if marketed well ONGA, NairobiNews ongz @ke.nationmedia.com G eorge Alwanga could have chosen to play football, rugby, basketball or hockey but he went for a sport t is barely known in Kenya - American otball. It all started in February 2012 when he oined the University of Nairobi to study Mechanical Engineering. Alwanga had watched some matches on pay TV channel SuperSport and gradually developed interest. His dream is to excel in the sport. The game was launched at the university by American Tom Kelly in 1997, but it died out in 1999. However, Kelly did not give up and re-introduced it in 2002. “We have been playing for nearly two years now, but are lagging behind other East African nations,” said Alwanga. Few clubs He is the captain of university club, Nyati, one of the few institutions where the sport is played. Other univarsities — Strathmore and Kenyatta — are set to launch it next year. Alwanga said American Football is usually confused with rugby, but it is different and the rules are not the same. He looks up to Indianapolis Colts’ Dan Adongo, the first Kenyan rugby player to switch to American football. “Adongo is an inspiration to everyone play- ing the sport in Kenya, we hope to follow in his footsteps,” Alwanga told Nairobi News. From Nyati’s performance, the skipper believes it has a bright future. Last year they beat Dar es Salaam University in their first game after training for only three weeks. During the East African Championship held in Kigali, Nyati were second behind Makerere. Foreign sport The 22-year-old, however, feels more can be done to make the sport popular through marketing. “How many people know about American Football? Very few. Majority don’t believe it is played Kenya, saying it is a foreign sport,” he added. The second born in a family of four loves sports. He enjoys playing rugby and football during his free time. Alwanga advises those interested in playing the sport to have interest, be physically Alwanga: How many people know about American Football? Very few. Majority don’t believe it is played Kenya, saying it is a foreign sport” Bio data • Age: 22 • Club: Nyati (captain) • Position: Forward • Hobbies: Watching sports, travelling and swimming Role model. Indianapolis Colts’ Dan Adongo fit and have speed. “The rest of the technical details will be taught along the way, but interest is key for one to learn,” he said. Alwanga said Kenya is strong sporting na- tion that should embrace other disciplines outside their tradional domains. He added that for the nation to win more medals at major events, it needs to diversify. “Let’s try new sports that will in the long run boost our medal catch in global championships,” he said. Eleven players make a team in American football. They are divided into offence and defence players, and the key is to score past your opponents. Alwanga and his teammates train three times a week at the university grounds, and have received assistance from the administration, which supplies them with kit. However, the lack of a coach is still an is- sue and they are hoping to get one as they prepare for future events. The team has a player database of 60 players, but the captain said they are recruiting more to beef up the squad.
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