Kenya 7s Andrew Amonde in action against Uganda. Photo Courtesy/Rugby Afrique

Andrew Amonde on Olympics and need for improvement of Kenya 7s welfare

Kenya 7s Captain Andrew Amonde says having another chance to play in the Olympics is an opportunity they squad holds high and the players are aware of what is expected of them.

Amonde who led Shujaa in the last Olympics games held in Brazil believes that the squad knows what they need to do to pick a medal from the event scheduled for Tokyo. He insists that the 2016 Olympics which saw Kenya finish second last in the 12 team competition served as an eye-opener for the team.

“It was a big lesson for us. Having a second chance to go to the Olympics is something that we hold highly because we now know what is expected of us, and the kind of work we need to put in to be able to win a medal,”  Amonde told the Olympic Channel. 

The KCB forward who has served the National team for close to 14 years says he hates losing and sees his long stay in the National team as a reward for hard work and sacrifices he has made as a player.

“I hate losing. It is not something that I take politely, it brings me back. I question a lot of things from where I started, why did I lose and what caused our loss.”

“I have been there for a very long time which I see as a reward that you get when you put in the hard work and make the sacrifices,” he added.

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The man who has played in 358 matches for Kenya 7s believes there is a need for Kenya Rugby Union to handle the players’ welfare better to allow the team to compete effectively. He feels that if the standards are raised and the team is well prepared they can perform better.

“Kenya Rugby needs to manage better the welfare of players by raising the standards of engagement to reach even just half what is considered international level. If we can get even half of what the other players we play against in the series and tournaments get, we will go far,” he said.

“When there is a proper guide, medical is covered, the salaries are paid on time, we are going to be good quality players. A player who is at peace with himself can put out 100%. It’s very tough to explain yourself to players when we have no medical insurance. We are missing some of the key things that we need to prepare well. There is no proper guide for the team. It is just a struggle!” he stated.

Amonde was among the few senior players who rejoined the National team in the 2018/2019 despite the rest staying away in the push for better welfare. He says his decision to help the team stay afloat in the World 7s Series was because he understood how relegation would have impacted the team.

“I decided to go back and play because as a leader of that team, I knew the repercussions of what would happen. We still needed to be on the [World Rugby] series because that is the only place we can say we hold as a high point for our country, and that’s the place we expose most of our young guys who are coming up. We just couldn’t let it go.”

He also admitted that the high turn over of coach affects the squad since each coach has a different system of coaching and play. He also noted that despite the senior players making a return to the squad, they are yet to regain their form having stayed out for a year.

“Every time we have a new coach means we are going to play under a new system again. Yes, we now have our experienced players back but their level of playing has not reached the level from where they left before they sat out for a whole year. And the pandemic has just made it worse.”

On his best moment in the rugby, he said:  “The biggest highlight for me was Singapore in 2016. That is something we hold highly. During that season we were able to beat the top teams because we were a very experienced team.”

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