MUMBAI: In sports, there are a lot of instances where males coach females players or teams, but rarely does the opposite happen. Only tennis great Amelie Mauresmo, who coached Andy Murray for a couple of years, comes to mind.
Laventa Oguta though, is slowly getting on that list. A former national rugby player for Kenya, Oguta took to kabaddi in 2010 accidentally. It was while surfing online for some rugby videos that she stumbled upon a video of an India-Iran encounter. Since then, the 33-year-old has not only established a national association, but has managed to raise popularity of kabaddi in her country to a level where they keep getting new players to represent Kenya.
“Being a coach for Kenya’s national kabaddi team is huge for me. I know there are not a lot of females coaching men. But in Kenya, it’s not a big deal. If the female is good enough, she deserves to be coach. It brings a lot of responsibility to me to improve the players and the team,” Oguta told Express.
“Kabaddi happened by chance. I was looking for rugby videos when I came across a kabaddi video. It caught my attention instantly.
Slowly and gradually, I started playing the game and teaching it to youngsters. And in a short span of time, we were able to come up with an association and form a team. Ours is a decent international team, and we won three games at the Kabaddi World Cup last year.”
Another feather in her cap is producing a player of David Mosambayi’s caliber, who is the first Kenyan to play in the Pro Kabaddi League. David was associated with the Puneri Paltan for two years, but hardly got a chance. But this time, he will play for Haryana Steelers, and Oguta expects her ward to get some games.
“David’s a great all-rounder. I hope he gets some games under his belt, as that would give him valuable experience. It’ll also help Kenyan kabaddi grow.”
So what’s on Laventa’s agenda next? “We want to be a kabaddi powerhouse. For that, we’ll need to have some more players in the Pro Kabaddi League. Our short-term goal is to do well in the East Africa Kabaddi tournament that starts in Rwanda on July 18, and also win the African Kabaddi Championship in November,” she concluded.