Political leaders, clubs, players and fans across the world have taken to social media to eulogize departed Kenya 7s legend Benjamin Ayimba.
Led by President Uhuru Kenyatta, they hailed Ayimba’s contributions in the sport. According to the family spokesperson Oscar Osir, Ayimba died on Friday 8 PM following multiple complications.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Benjamin on Friday 21 May 2021. Benjamin succumbed to the multiple complications he was being treated for over the past couple of months”
“The family and close friends would like to extend their deepest gratitude for the prayers and the overwhelming moral and financial support that you all have offered during Benjamin’s last days. May the Almighty God rest Benjamin’s soul in peace.” reads his statement.
President Uhuru said Ayimba’s achievements on the field encouraged a new generation of rugby players and helped sell the Kenyan brand around the world.
“It is a sad day in the history of Kenyan sports having lost Benjamin. From his exploits on the field as as a rugby player and on the touch line as a coach, Benjamin inspired a generation of young Kenyans to take up and excel as rugby players. He was truly a national rugby icon,” the President eulogised.
“As a nation, we will forever be grateful for his great contribution to Kenya’s sports especially for the many accolades he earned the country over the years,” the President added.
“Besides earning Kenya accolades and global recognition as a rugby nation, Benjamin and his generation of players and coaches helped grow Kenya’s brand abroad benefiting sectors such as tourism, hospitality and aviation,” the President noted.
Other leaders including the Deputy President William Ruto, ODM Raila Odinga, Kenya Cup clubs, football players have also eulogized Ayimba.
Ayimba went to Olympic Primary School and later moved to Maseno School where he started off his rugby career. He played for the Kenya Cup side Impala for seven seasons and as a captain, he led the Gazelles to win the Kenya Cup Title and Enterprise Cup. He also led the side to 7s titles before he crossed over to Nondies.
Internationally, he captained Kenya 7s to the 2001 World Cup which saw Shujaa reach the Bowl Semi-final. He was also part of the 2005 World Cup as Kenya 7s achieved a similar feat. He also played in the Commonwealth games for Shujaa. He also played for Cornish Pirates.
Ayimba later took over the Kenya 7s’ Head Coach role in 2006 and during his first stint that ran till 2011, the tactician led Shujaa to the first-ever World 7s Series final (in 2009) in Sydney. A year later he got the Order of the Grand Warrior (OGW) award from the then president Mwai Kibaki for an impressive run with the Sevens team.
He returned as Kenya 7s boss in 2015 and guided the team to the first-ever World 7s Series Main Cup title beating Fiji 30-7 in the Singapore 7s in April 2016. He also led the team in the first ever 7s Olympics in 2016 which was his last job with Kenya 7s.
The tactician has served on the Homeboyz and Kenya Harlequins technical benches. In 2020 he had been appointed as the Technical Director for the Kenya Rugby League.