When Paul Odera took over the reigns of the Kenya Simbas, his selection criteria came as a surprise to many as he opted to go for the young budding talents overlooking the tried and tested seasoned internationals. One of the individuals who benefited from this was one Eliud Mulakoli, the current USIU Martials captain.
Mulakoli’s steady rise to the top began when his rugby playing classmate talked to him about representing their stream in the inter-classes competition back then in 2012 while in Form 2.
The centre impressed and coach Amos Wamanga[Current Kakamega High rugby coach] went ahead and invited him to the school team training sessions. From that time, he’s never looked back again.
“I joined Malava boys in 2011. I used to play hockey while in Form 1. It was in 2012 that one of my classmates, Isaiah Mulongo (Now at MMUST), told me about the inter-classes games that were about to happen. I agreed to represent my class and during the tournament rugby coach, Amos Wamanga noticed me and asked me to join and that is how it all started, “Eliud Mulakoli told The Scrummage.
Despite Malava boys not being recognized as one of the best rugby performing schools in the Western region maybe because of being in the same county with powerhouses such as Kakamega High and St.Peter’s Mumias, her products have not failed to impress in the local and even international scenes. From Kenyan International Timothy Mmasi, Oilers forward Vincent Mwikali to now Eliud Mulakoli all have made a stamp.
Fast forward to 2015 after completing his high school education, Mulakoli would make Kakamega ASK Showgrounds his new home after being invited to try it out by his former schoolmate Jacob Okumba. Mulakoli used to play as a scrum half back then in Kabras Rugby jostling for playtime with the likes of Brian Tanga-the fleet-footed Kabras playmaker. He debuted for Kabras the same year in an ESS game against Blak Blad II when he was injected late into the match and scored the match-winning try for his side to win 14-7.
“I went to Kabras since senior players from my school (Okumba brothers) were there and so they asked me to go for trials and through God’s will, I secured myself a slot there. The stay at Kabras was an awesome transition from high school rugby to club rugby. I got a new family and new coaches which worked out well for me”
- Mike Bishop talks Kabras stay, Kenya Cup win & exit
- Mike Bishop reveals standout Kenyan players
- Potential Kenya 7s Coaches
- Davis Nyaundi’s journey into rugby
- What Kenya Simbas should do to reach the World Cup
“My debut game at Kabras was against Kenyatta University in an ESS game and coming off the bench that day and scoring the winning try was a nice experience and a great feeling getting my name on the scoresheet on debut,” Mulakoli added.
Mulakoli played for another season at Kabras before United States International University-Africa came calling for his services. The somewhat physical midfielder has played for USIU Martials for four seasons and his efforts to take the side back to Kenya Cup has still not borne fruit yet. They have come so close two times only for Kisumu RFC and Western Bulls to stand in their way.
Kenya Simbas call
The International Relations student from the prestigious USIU-A university had not made into the Odera’s initial list but was called up when the Simbas were preparing to play Zambia in Nairobi. He wasn’t expecting to start the game and was surprised when he was named to run out in jersey 13 in front of what is always a jam-packed RFUEA Grounds.
“For sure the call came as a surprise as I was never called upon for the training that was held earlier for the selection. The experience at Kenya Simbas is quite a different feeling but it is very nice that I’m enjoying up to date. Against Zambia, in the first place, I was a bit nervous since I had not expected to be on the starting 15 but through encouragement messages from seniors players and coaches, I got over it. Takeaways from that experience are that when you get to listen to what you’re being told, everything just falls in place”
The 2018/2019 Championship top points scorer is aiming to be a mainstay in the Kenya 15s set up and is targeting to help Kenya secure the 2023 World Cup ticket which will be staged in France. He knows this is an uphill task and the young lad is willing to get up early from bed and leave late from training to work out on things he feels will give him that competitive edge among his mates.
“Am aiming to play rugby at the highest level and help the Kenya Simbas qualify for the 2023 World Cup. This will be achieved through hard work and dedication towards the goal by doing extra sessions and making sure I never miss any team sessions,” the ambitious Mulakoli added.
“I will ensure that I improve on the kicking skills that I have and perfect it well since it’s one of the skills that keep me outstanding among other midfielders in the national stage. I will work on my agility which is one of the biggest problems among many centres here locally as compared to world cup participating teams”
Every young and upcoming athlete always sets their eyes to certain individuals upon where they draw their motivation from and to Eliud Mulakoli it’s no different. The 5 ft 9inch 85kgs outside centre looks up to Kabras’ inside centre Nick Barasa locally. Internationally, he always loved the style of play of the likes of Ma’a Nonu, Rene Ranger and former Springboks fullback Percy Montgomery.
“Rugby is not only a sport but through it, I have been able to create my second family where I am enjoying life,” he concluded.
Name: Eliud Mulakoli
School: Malava Boys
Course: International Relations
Former Club: Kabras
Current club: USIU Martial
Kenya Simbas debut: 2019 Victoria Cup against Zambia