Ulinzi Warriors skipper slowly recovering from long-term injury hell

By Lynette Matheka
Tuesday, March 24th, 2020
Ulinzi Warriors captain John Washika (behind raising hands) with team-mates celebrating the 2019 league triumph at Nyayo gymnasium. Photo/PD/LYNETTE MATHEKA

January 2020 was the month Ulinzi Warriors’ skipper John Washika would have made his debut in the men’s national basketball team, Morans, something he had hoped for all his career.

However, as fate would have it, with just few days remaining to the FIBA Afrobasket pre-qualifiers at Nyayo gymnasium, the 28 -year-old was ruled out after being diagnosed with discs bulge.

“I was heartbroken. After days of training with the team, I woke up one morning and could not walk or sit for a few minutes.

It was a nightmare. I had some back pain before that which, through the team doctor’s prescription, I was managing with painkillers,” says Washika.  

With his hopes of representing his country crashed, Washika began his recovery journey at Upper Hill Medical Center where bed rest for the initial days and physiotherapy sessions were recommended. 

“For a person who is ever on the move,  it was really tough to be on bed rest.  I had 10 therapy sessions scheduled and three months to full recovery. 

Seventy days on, I have done nine sessions with the final one scheduled for end of April where I hope to be cleared to go back to the court,” said Washika, adding that he has drawn inspiration from his friend, Thunder’s Kevin Chogo who got injured in the final playoff Game Three and is on the path to recovery. 

Washika guided a star-studded Warriors, in his first stint as captain,  to reclaiming the Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) men’s league. With the league resumption uncertain in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak, he hopes to have made a full recovery by the time action resumes.  

“Everyone was looking forward to the season jumping off last weekend as I know my fellow players and the fans have missed the action.  However, I count this as a blessing in disguise for me.

I have time to be fit to start the season off with my team. I am also looking forward to putting in the work on the court for a chance to feature for the national team. 

Although the decision is for the technical bench to make,  I’ll leave everything on the court and hope to impress for another call-up,” he said. 

He added: “I have since been cleared to do light workouts. I have been jogging, going for long runs and doing aerobics too. I, however, will need to work on my on-court fitness when I get the green light next month.”

The military side enlisted the services of Washika in 2014 from Kenya Airports Authority. 

He had to leave mid season for military training and returned for two seasons to forget, 2016 and 2017, where they missed out on the finals and consequently the club championships.