Mariga’s sister wants to play in the top league
Posted Friday, February 12 2010 at 20:00
Langata schoolgirl aims to emulate famous big brother by joining WNBA
The garden has just started to blossom with flowers and if Noah and Mildred Wanyama thought they have had enough of its scent, then they are completely wrong.
Their son, McDonald Mariga is arguably Kenya’s most famous footballer at the moment, having joined Italian champions Inter Milan early this month.
Their other son, Victor Mugabe, plays professional soccer in Belgium, while yet another son, Thomas Wanyama, plays for Kenya champions Sofapaka.
Then there is their 17-year-old daughter, Mercy Wanyama.
The lanky Langata High School student, who stands at an impressive 6 feet tall, has dreams of one day playing in the top women’s basketball league in the world, America’s Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).
Mercy captains her school basketball team, and is also the overall games captain.
When Saturday Nation visited her at school, she was in a jovial mood after leading her school to a 22-18 victory over Parklands Arya.
Her family has been in the news of late after her famous brother’s attempt to join UK Premier League side Manchester City fell through after he was denied a work permit.
Inter Milan came calling and the rest is history.
“Mariga’s move to Inter Milan has inspired me to work hard and, God willing, the WNBA will soon have another test of Kenya’s best,” vowed Mercy, a former soccer goalkeeper.
She has a role model to look up to; the only other Kenyan woman to feature in the WNBA is Josephine Owino, who was signed by Washington Mystics in the 2009 WNBA draft.
The soft-talking Mercy wants to clear high school first, join a university where she will play basketball and then move on to bigger things.
What does she think of her famous big brother in Italy? “He deserves all the best in this world because of his hard work. He is humble, kind and a go-getter.”
Of course the fame has rubbed off on her, with her friends and schoolmates now in awe of her, but she remains down to earth.
Her coaches are full of praise of her. “She combines well as a centre and forward,” says school head coach Francis Mukwana. “Above all, she is disciplined and well above average in class.”
Her basketball coach, Nehema Muoki, adds that Mercy means what she says and if WNBA is her destination, then she will get there.
“She is bubbling with talent,” says Muoki. “What is outstanding is that she takes the team as hers and is quick at instilling unity, teamwork and morale.”