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Former Kenya international recalls Safari 7s memories

Former Kenya 7s and 15s international Paul Odera vividly recalls the memories during his days as he donned the famous red jersey in the annual Safari sevens tournament.
Speaking to Kenya Rugby, the current Kenya U-20 (Chipu) head coach relived his memories as a player and how the experience was like donning national team colours.
“I first played in the safari sevens in 1998. It is to date for me the most amazing experience of my playing career. The closeness of the crowd at RFUEA. I remember running onto the field and the noise from the crowd as the PA announced that Kenya were running on. Nothing beats the feeling of playing in front of your home crowd, but the atmosphere at RFUEA lifted us to perform way beyond our abilities.”
If there is a year that will forever remain fresh in Odera’s memory,then it is the year 2000 when the Kenya sevens beat Namibia in the world cup qualifiers to make it to the global showpiece for their maiden appearance.Odera is proud to have been part of the history makers.
“The crowd rising to cheer on Kenya when we were playing Namibia in the Semi Finals of the sevens World Cup Qualifiers in 2000. We qualified for the Sevens World Cup for the first time and that semi final match had the crowd as the 13th player.”
The Chipu tactician further adds that winning the Safari sevens tournament brings with it a lot of pride as one feels to have represented the nation to the fullest keeping in mind the intense pressure one carries along whenever donning the jersey.
“Winning Safari Sevens is not an easy feeling to describe in writing. There is relief at the end becasue of the huge expectation that the country places on us. There is deep satisfaction after achieving such a feat and all the hard work. The best feeling is that of immense pride in the country and teammates. Looking at your band of brothers next to you and feeling privileged to be playing with such players and representing the country.”
Odera calls on young upcoming players to remain focused and emulate what great players do so that they may as well leave a mark in the sport.
“My advice to the youngsters coming up is to dream and dream big. But they must remember that if they want to have what the best rugby players in the world have, they must do what great players do. That is work hard, focus and be resilient. Youngsters sometimes have it backwards. That they first want to have what great players have then they will be able to do what great players do. The money, fame and recognition only comes after you are doing what great rugby players do.”

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