How Nanyuki rose to become rugby champs

Monday March 30 2020
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Nanyuki School team that won the 2020 Laikipia County Secondary Schools Term One Games boys’ basketball title. The team has made benchmarking trips to Chavakali School, Maseno School, Vihiga Boys and Dagoretti High School. PHOTO | ANTHONY NJAGI |

By ANTHONY NJAGI

Three years ago, Nanyuki School had never been mentioned in rugby school games circles.

Three years later, they are the Laikipia County rugby champions, having swept aside all the other traditional contenders to the throne of the game in the region.

They are set to represent the county in the regional games.

The regional games were originally scheduled for last week but were indefinitely suspended because of the coronavirus epidemic.

Nanyuki School is known as an academic giant in the region. The public school has been a force to reckon with in football and other games, but not rugby.

So how did the school become a county champion in rugby in such a short time?

The answer is that Oliver Minishi (inset) the school principal happened. Minishi was appointed principal of the school in 2018 and introduced the game.
The students and sports teachers took it up with unbridled enthusiasm.

Minishi observed that the boys were not very active in their recreation time after classes. Some played sports games, but without much seriousness.

Basketball was popular, but the school did not really pursue it seriously and the boys were left to their own antics.

Minishi, a longtime school administrator, decided that the boys needed more physical exercise. He thus introduced rugby to the boys, who took it up with verve.

“Most boys were fascinated by the new game and wanted a piece of the action. I encouraged all of them to join,” says Minishi.

The school principal said that it is as if the boys had been waiting, to compete in the game which falls under first term national school games.

The boys, he said, were doing well in academics compared to other schools in the region but they were not excelling in sports.

“They are young, with a lot of energy and testosterone. They need to play games and engage in other recreational activities,” said Minishi, who believes in the mantra that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

Now, Nanyuki School is aiming for rugby and basketball glory at the national level.

The school is also the basketball county champion, having been awakened from slumber following the arrival of Minishi.

The turnaround of the school's sports fortunes is quite surprising, since Minishi is more famous for his achievements in schools drama festivals.

The principal is a legend in the annual schools and colleges drama festivals, having won several awards as a scriptwriter, director and producer of plays.

He won awards with Koyonzo Mixed Secondary School, before he became the undisputed drama champion with Kakamega High School.

Even before the competency based syllabus was introduced, Minishi had for decades been of the belief that academic performance is not everything, and he came out as a self styled drama guru. He encouraged his students to pursue drama and music once class time was over, arguing that sports and other extra-curricular activities make all-round students and prepare them better for life ahead.

In Kakamega, he promoted sports and performing arts, and his students came out ahead just as they did in national examinations.

Minishi is one of the top perennial winners in the drama festival for more than 20 years, and his competitors shake in their boots when they hear they are going to face him in the nationals. Many of his stage plays have been made into films. For his achievements in drama and school administration, Minishi was awarded the Head of State Commendation award by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2015.