Humphrey Kayange the Most accomplished Kenyan Rugby Player

Two years after competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Kayange formally hung up his rugby jersey

Credits CNN

Kayange is one of Kenya’s most accomplished rugby sevens players, but his rugby journey started when he didn’t make it onto his high school football team. He talks about discovering the sport,

“For me rugby, the first thing that did excite me was the ability to run and space. But initially, it was the interest of learning something new and having to get good at it, really pushed me now to the heights that sort of came later on in my career.”

After high school, Kayange studied biochemistry at the Jomo Kenyatta University. He continued to play rugby for local clubs but was soon called up to the national team,

“Rugby started being quite serious. Because you pulled up to the national team, you have to travel around the world playing in different tournaments and a salary at the end of it all. That’s when the reality sort of started coming in, in terms of the commitment that is required.”

Following a quieter period on the pitch, Kayange returned to school, studying for a master’s degree in chemistry at the University of Bristol. This led to a job as a chemist with the Kenya Bureau of Standards, where he still works today. He tells Okpo about his work,

“My huge passion is in research, finding out components and different contaminants in food. I spent quite a bit of time here. Because research involves a lot of trying new things. I love doing it. I’ve been doing it for the last ten years. And my employer has been very supportive in terms of getting to do research and getting to travel around and play sport on different continents.”

Two years after competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Kayange formally hung up his rugby jersey. In his retirement, he co-founded the youth mentorship programme the Good Kenyan Foundation. He describes the foundation’s inception,

“A friend of mine, we were throwing around an idea of what more can we do for young players or kids who were coming up looking for guidance, mentorship, advice. Why not to start something where we can offer sort of these skills, soft skills, and especially to the needy, who need hope and an opportunity.”

The Good Kenyan Foundation aims to mentor, empower, and equip high school graduates with marketable job skills and career development plans. Kayange discusses their work,

“Just the opportunity to know that they can do something with their lives and having mentors, and these are just friends and people from the community, who ensure that and guide these young kids who come on the program to ensure that they have hope and they can able to direct their careers or their path to what they’d want to achieve is really fulfilling.”

Kayange is also involved in the Atlas Foundation, which supports projects all around the world. Their most recent project has been setting up a bus that doubles as a mobile classroom in Kenya. Kayange says, “The bus concept started with thinking let’s bring a London bus here, a double-decker bus, and equip it and ensure that they’re able to drive around and empower kids from underprivileged communities. Everyone would think, “why a bus?”, the bus would move from one location, say Kibera, to another location where underprivileged kids would get an opportunity to explore their skills.”

With his success on the pitch, his career as a chemist, and his charity work, Kayange acts as a strong mentor for children across Kenya. He sums up his outlook on life,

“I have been blessed with the opportunity to have played this sport all over the world. I’ve been blessed with the successes and the failures, and just being able to give back to the community in whatever way is really fulfilling.”

This episode also meets Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira, the most-capped Springbok forward of all time. Since winning the World Cup, Mtawarira has thrown himself into charity work, no longer measuring his success in wins and losses, but in how many people he can help. He tells CNN about his philanthropy work,

“I want to give back in a big way across the African continent. I want to inspire a generation of leaders and unlock the greatness within them, you know, and just really help this continent become as powerful as it could be through sport, education, and life skills development.”




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