Nairobi — Kenya Lionesses head coach Felix Oloo has termed flanker Sinaida Aura’s decision to call time on her rugby career a big blow, but remains confident the team can find a suitable replacement.
Aura who represented Kenya at the Rio Olympics announced she was retiring from the sport after six years to concentrate on personal matters.
“It’s a big blow and we will miss her. But as we said sometimes back, we are creating a situation in the team whereby even if a certain player is out of team, the team will still be able to perform well,” Coach Felix Oloo stated.
Aura has been a core part of the Kenya Lionesses squad, making history to win the African Cup as well as qualification to the Olympics in 2016.
“Saying goodbye to the sport, is tough, hard, and is going to be a big change for me, but a challenge that I’m excited about and I look forward to,” Aura said in a long post on her social media handles.
She added; “I have been lucky to have exceptionally brilliant and strong people behind me moreso my wonderful husband who has been there literally through thick and thin since my journey in the sport begun and I’m thankful we both have peace of mind over this decision.”
Oloo will now have the task of building a replacement but is confident that there is enough cover in the team.
Meanwhile, the tactician has named one debutant in his team that will head to Spain for a series of high performance training matches, funded by World Rugby and the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) in preparation for the Tokyo games.
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Mwamba’s Naomi Amugani has been handed a debut call up while there is a comeback call up for Sarah Oluche and Ann Goreti. Oloo says he has called up a balanced squad based on the output in training for the past two months.
“We have so far had 34 training sessions. It is not about who knows how to play but who is ready to play in this tournament,” said the coach.
He hopes that the tournament in Spain will help him build up the team towards the Tokyo Olympics as well as the World Series qualifiers.
“I am really keen to improve areas that we were not good at in the previous seasons like kick off and defence. For us, I am not keen on just participating on Tokyo but perfoming. This tournament will help us prepare for Tokyo and also the World Series qualifiers,” said the tactician.
The squad to Spain will be skippered by Philadelphia Olando.
Lionesses squad to Spain
Philadelphia Olando (Captain), Celestine Masinde, Sheila Chajira, Ann Goretti, Stella Wafula, Naomi Amuguni, Camilla Cynthia, Janet Okello, Linet Moraa, Enid Ouma, Diana Awino, Christabel Lindo, Sarah Oluche.