For many of us the number 17 marks quite a sobering moment in one's life. Be it that you're just under an year from the age of the majority ( with a superfluous definition of youth to boot...), have cleared high school and waiting to join university or college or depending on which country you come from, have attained your driving license ( and for some your legal drinking age...in Kenya it still is 18 years as Mututho would remind us).
Well for Kenya Rugby Union's prized possession in Safari Sevens or better #Safari7s, this will be the 17th edition of the biggest 3-day rugby tournament in East Africa. For those not particularly familiar with the shorter version of the game, it happened on the scene a little into the 1990s and Kenya was quick to adopt it and has borne fruits albeit with mixed results. Not to underestimate Kenya's contribution to the game but our very own Humphrey Kayange was part of the team that rooted for the inclusion of the 7s version to the Olympic Games sports. This shall debut in 2016 in Rio, Brazil.
Back to #Safari7s, this year the tournament will be used once again to gauge the national team's players preparedness for the 2012/13 season. It shall also mark the national team's head coach Mike Friday's first ever outing with his charges and what better way than right here at home in front of the Kenyan crowds.
And right from the selection, there is a distinction that this is not your usual style of play and every player will have to fight for his place in the national team when the IRB 7s circuit starts in October in Australia's Gold Coast.
There will be 2 other national sides from Portugal and Spain that will also be using the tournament to prepare their teams for the IRB 7s circuit. There is also the Samurais who have a number of New Zealand's All Blacks' players. This year's IRB series is slightly different in the sense that emerging countries' teams that drop from their previous ranking , there will be a relegation/promotion system. This means that every tournament and point counts. No more poor finishes, no more dropping the ball and no more excuses waiting for the future.
Against this backdrop and the fact that the national KRU 7s circuit has just come to an end and emerging talent being ingrained into the team, we should not expect anything less than the main prize. It may not be too much to ask as the team was eliminated last year in the semi-finals. These are by-gones and the new management team should get the win to get the team into its stride of an expected better performance in the 2012/13.
Mobile provider Safaricom once again are the title sponsors for the 3rd year running and its 2nd year at a stadium setting ( at Nyayo National stadium). The tournament has become one of the biggest sporting event for Kenyan sports fans and once again, the crowds are expected to mill the ground. Though security concerns have been expressed in recent spates in the country, over 500 security officers from both public and private firms have been contracted to ensure the tournament sails on well.
It shall be no less for us and shall be on the sidelines to watch and cheer our Kenyan team(s) along. We hope you do make time too in this 3rd weekend of September ( teachers' strike, lecturers' boycotts and doctors' downing their stethoscopes notwithstanding...)
For more detailed information, go to www.safarisevens.com or follow their Twitter handle @safaricom7s or check the hash-tags #Safaricom7s or #Safari7s