The name Philip Wokorach brings back a train of memories processed at Kabras and served to the Kenyan rugby scene in a sugary and astounding fashion, as the spindly full-back set ablaze the local scene with his deft step and entertaining style of play.
Despite not being able to inspire the Sugarmen to a Kenya cup title, individual accolades followed the soft-spoken Ugandan ace. The 2018/19 season saw him scoop the Kenya cup top try scorer and top points scorer before wrapping it up with the Enterprise Cup Most valuable player after inspiring Kabras to their maiden title.
Now with enough time to reflect, and with a familiar fondness, he looks back at his move to Kabras which he terms as a defining moment for him as a player in an interview with the Scrummage.
”I was first contacted by Kabras after the Masaku 7s in 2014, we kept in touch and I had a trial during a sevens circuit that very year. I would return to Uganda to complete my studies and at this time I was still a Heathens player and didn’t contemplate moving to another club. As I kept in touch with the club chairman, he invited me to the club grounds to have a look and visit the team.”
” I watched a couple of their training sessions for the game against Uganda select, I was impressed by the facilities and competitiveness in the squad which I thought would be good for my career in terms of development and I was given an offer to play professionally which was a dream come true. So I just had to discuss with my team back home before making a move”
”I got a chance to play competitive rugby. Every game was a final, today you play against Homeboyz, next week KCB and the next Impala and it goes on and on. This meant being 100% prepared physically and mentally, hitting the gym, listening to my coach and learning from the best players around even from the opposition.”
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Despite hitting the epitome to the eyes of many admirers, Wokorach looks back at his boisterous Kabras career knowing he did not achieve it all. And in his own words, this is his lowest moment; ”not winning the Kenya Cup with Kabras.”
Wokorach was in the Uganda squad that beat Namibia 38-19 in Nairobi to be crowned 2016 Africa Cup Sevens champions. Increasingly becoming an integral figure for the Cranes, he would go on to feature in the world cup and Commonwealth games.
Kenya’s HSBC top try scorer Collins Injera makes his starting seven any day as he gives it up to KCB as the toughest opponents faced.
”Kenya has so many talented players that it would be difficult to choose, but one who wouldn’t miss out is Collins Injera, such a talented gentleman.”
They faced off in the 2018/19 Kenya Cup semi-final; Wokorach playing at pivot as Injera took charge of open flank in the black jersey in a match that saw Kabras carry home the bragging rights.
Kabras have faced KCB in the Kenya cup final for a record five consecutive times, and in each of those times, Kabras have run out of ammunition to hunt down the Lions. The 2018/19 season saw Kabras lose just two matches; one during the regular season and the final that was staged in Kakamega, all thanks to now bitter rivals KCB.
”They (KCB) always had something up their sleeves, and they were never complacent. Clinical team. Few mistakes and they take you out of the fixture by half time.”
His praise for Kabras fans shows how special the bond between the players and fan base was, or rather still is if current interviews are anything to go by. Asked what his best moment with the millers was, he had this to say:
”Hard to choose, but all I can say is the fans, they are special, they travelled with us for all games. We had games that we lost but scored late, they still celebrated those consolation tries with the same passion as a winning try. It meant a lot to us players. And every moment I stepped on the pitch with the Kabras players was an honour.”
With an aim of playing in the top French league Top 14, Wokorach does not rule out the chance of playing for Kabras one more time as a section of the fans feel he left without saying a proper goodbye.
”I do miss Kabras, I fully defined myself from there, the rest will be left to destiny.”
Having worked under coaches Henly Du Plessis, Charles Cardovillis and Anthony Ogot, Wokorach says they treated players equally and instilled a work hard mentality in him.
“Yes, they did, all were professional, all players were equal in their eyes, whether you were Kenya sevens international, league top try scorer or appeared in a news article somewhere. You had to do your part to make the team win, scrum hard and win it, convert the try your teammate gave his all to score. Such small details. Everyone was equal through their contribution to the game. So I have built on that mentality that I have to do my part to the best of my ability because my teammates are doing the same for me and the team.”
Wokorach joined French side Bourges in September 2019. Besides the Enterprise Cup he won the National 7s Circuit title with Kakamega based side in 2017.
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