In search of aspiration, following the demise of his folks, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) RFC halfback Nobert Lumbwani found solace in the beautiful game.
The separate tragic events (mother 2003, and father 2008) did not seem to deter his laid down ambitions in the game. In rugby, Lumbwani knew he could make something of himself, despite the shortcomings.
The Malava High School alumnus narrated to the Scrummage, that it was his brother David Namusasi, currently playing for Kavallier RFC in Malta, that ignited his rugby journey.
“It all started in 2013 when I was in form two at Malava Boys High School. My brother, who was then playing for the school team, influenced my understanding of the game. It was then that I went from being a fan of the game, to actually playing it,” narrated Lumbwani.
“Losing my parents was my biggest challenge while starting up. I had no one to help me in terms of funds. I remember one opening day, I decided to buy boots using all the pocket money I had been given and was left only with transport money. I never regret the decision, to date,” he added.
Other than his brother, Lumbwani was also not shy to mention his former coach Amos Wamanga (current Kakamega High School coach), for helping him ‘cement’ a solid rock foundation, in his rugby journey.
“Amos Wamanga saw potential in me from a very young age. He made me the school captain. Letting him down, was not an option,” he said.
A role he would have never assumed to hold if you asked him then, Lumbwani’s staunch leadership attributes were mirrored, not by words, but by the performance the school pulled off.
Under his guidance, in 2015, Malava High School reached the 15’s county finals in the Kenya Secondary School Sports Association (KSSSA) games, the highest level the school had ever played.
“Although we lost the 15’s finals to Kakamega High school, it was a nice experience as it was the first time the school had ever reached a county’s final. I was also able to lead my team to reach the quarter-finals of the regional 7’s KSSSA, the same year,” he revealed.
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After high school, Lumbwani was beaming to further his experience in the game professionally. A few kilometres from where he completed his 8-4-4, was Kabras RFC.
2015/16 season goes down as the year the sugarmen won their maiden Kenya Cup title, and Lumbwani, was part of the Eric Shirley Shield squad that reached the final- a lucky charm for a lad who is straight from high school.
“I was privileged to play for Kabras RFC Eric Shirley Shield (ESS) side, in their Kenya Cup-winning season. My first match was the 2015 season opener against Bungoma Sharks RFC. I went on to play two ESS finals,” he said.
His biggest achievement while at Kabras, he says was the 2017 National 7s Circuit scoop.
“Winning the coveted National Circuit trophy is always every player’s dreams. It is my biggest achievement in a Kabras jersey,” he said.
Lumbwani’s outstanding performance in the circuit saw him promoted to Kabras’ ‘big boys’ squad in the 2017/18 season, where he was slowly introduced to the top league game.
A stone-throw away from Kakamega Showground, common to rugby fans as ‘The Forest’, was a nationwide reckoning force, MMUST RFC, who were on the hunt for new blood to inject into their system. When they knocked on Lumbwani’s door, he opened.
“MMUST came and offered me a scholarship. Since I had always wanted to further my studies, I had every reason to make the switch (from Kabras to MMUST),” he revealed.
“I had quite a good understanding of MMUST’s culture. Their ‘MAKAKA’ (Brothers) oriented themed rugby made it easy for me to jell with the squad” he added.
His top moment with the varsity side came in the 2018 Nationwide league triumph that earned them a promotion to the second tier league, together with the 2018 promotion to division one of the local sevens circuit.
His down moments, apart from balancing classwork and field time, is raising funds to help sustain him during long holidays.
“Long holidays are always challenging since most of us are students. We find it hard to convince our guardians as they don’t expect us to remain in school during the break-even if the season is on,” he said.
Lumbwani is a big fan of Kenya 7s and Kabras star Brian Tanga. This is explained by the two sharing a stint
together at Kabras. Internationally, former world rugby player of the year Bauden Barret is Lumbwani’s idol.
“I draw inspiration from Tanga whom I worked with while at Kabras. He always motivated me to work harder. Internationally Barret is always at heart. I like his kind of play,” he said.
For Lumbwani, it does not end here. MMUST’s fine run at the (KRU) Championship league has sparked new ideas and targets for him.
“Our performance proved we are ripe for the big league. I want to play a Kenya Cup match in MMUST jersey. After that, I’ll be hunting the national team jersey,” he said.
Norbert Lumbwani’s profile
Name: Norbert Lumbwani
School: Malava Boys
Former Club: Kabras
Current Club: MMUST Rugby
Honours: ESS finalists, Mwamba Cup winner, National 7s Circuit winner with Kabras, Nationwide winner, 2019 KUSA 7s winner.