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Nyanchwa: From the oblivion into basketball titans

By Gibo Zachary
Wednesday, March 25th, 2020
Nyanchwa Boys basketball team after winning this year’s Kisii County title. INSET: Coach Kepher Mogire (left), the brains behind the team’s rise. Photo/PD/GIBO ZACHARY

Gibo Zachary

Winston Churchill once said, “success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

It is a statement that is perhaps true for Nyanchwa Boys, winners of the Kisii County Secondary Schools Games basketball title for the last three years. 

Until their maiden county title in 2018, Nyanchwa were an unknown quantity and it took the efforts of their teacher and coach Kepher Mogire to turn them into what they are today.

However, it was not easy as Mogire had to literally start from scratch.  

“When I joined Nyanchwa High School in 2011, there was no basketball court, leave alone a team.

But with my love for the game, I immediately assembled a group of players,” remembers Mogire.

“We started from scratch and put together a team without training much and as expected, we didn’t go far. We lost all our matches, but it was what we needed for a start,” he adds.

“In 2012, we made some progress and I started by establishing a murram court. I then prepared a team that managed to win one match against Gusii Highlights at the zonal level.

With zeal and determination, we kept improving and in 2016, we made it to the sub-county championship where we met Highlights again and to the surprise of many, we defeated them,” says Mogire. 

It is from then that Mogire gained confidence in his project and in 2017, Nyanchwa reached the county championship for the first time, going all the way to the semi-final where they lost to eventual champions Cardinal Otunga High School.

That good run acted as the fuel to fire Mogire’s ambitions and the following year at Kisii School, Nyanchwa got their revenge on Cardinal Otunga whom they hammered 73-43 to win the Kisii County basketball title for the first time. 

They have not looked back since, going on to win the 2019 and this year’s crowns at the same level. 

Having conquered the county, Nyanchwa have now cast their eyes on doing the same at regional level.

It has, however not been smooth-sailing as they have stumbled in the Nyanza region games in the last two years, although they remain optimistic of positive results in 2020. 

“In 2018, it was about learning given it was our maiden appearance in the Nyanza regional games. In 2019, we finished fifth and picked our lessons and now we have another chance.

It will be better since we always improve,” says coach Mogire, who started playing basketball while a student at Cardinal Otunga in 1997.

“After high school, I joined Kenyatta University where I played under coach Waringo Gitau who made me who I am today,” says the tactician, whose coaching prowess started in 2008 when he was trained as a referee-cum-coach while working as a board teacher at Kisii School. 

“In 2009, I took Kisii School to the regional games just when my coaching begun and when I got employed and posted to Nyanchwa, I sharpened my coaching and refereeing skills further by acquiring a license,” Mogire says. 

The FIBA-trained coach also wears other hats. He is the Kisii County Kenya Basketball Federation secretary, a post he has held since 2016, was appointed technical advisor in basketball for Kisii County Secondary Schools Sports Association in 2015 and is the founder of Kisii Raptors, who have been promoted to the Division Two League, after just one season in existence.  

“Basketball is me and I am the game,” concludes the 38-year-old, six-foot tall coach.