ALUMNUS OF THE MONTH: DORRIS CHEPKOECH KIRUI AKA D.C.
It’s been almost 20 years since Dorris Chepkoech Kirui better known by her moniker D.C., left Pangani in 2000, with a track record most sportspersons will envy; a year of clean sweep wins of all national and regional medals.
D.C. was a hockey midfielder and a top scorer; she was part of the Pangani Hockey team that won the national hockey championships 4 times. A win for every single year she was in Pangani. She lead her club to the title win at the African Hockey Championships and also played in the national hockey team and still hopes to one day, represent Kenya in the Olympics.
She has two kids; her daughter loves hockey and is steadily following in her footsteps. Her son on the other hand, “he likes football.” D.C. admits with a comical sigh.
D.C. was drawn to go back to Pangani after she heard that legendary Hockey coach, James Akweri, had left the school. She was also in shock seeing the decline of the school’s performance,
“I would open the [news]paper and see Pangani being beaten by teams we used to wallop 20-nil; I was concerned.” She states. “If I am capable of doing it, I should also give back, I was inspired by Jap. I owe my career to him. He inspired generations of women still shinning in Hockey.”
In January 2017, D.C. kicked off her coaching with the girls which was filled with mixed feelings. On the one hand; nostalgia of the good old days on the other, the state of the school. The pitch at the time was grassy; the team didn’t have a coach, though the patron did give moral support, the girls needed to build a proper team with clear direction.
“It almost felt like I was starting from scratch. They didn’t know the rules of the game, they didn’t seem bothered if they won or lost.” D.C. remarks reminiscent.
The team at the time was composed of third and fourth formers. During the initial training sessions, D.C. would outsprint some of the girls.
“I had to make these girls believe they could be players,” she remarks.
It wasn’t easy; D.C. would drive all the way from her office in Upperhill to Pangani Girls 3 days a week. She would get home completely worn out. Saturday mornings when most parents spend time with their children, D.C.’s husband would graciously take up the role of mum and dad, to allow her to join the Pangani Girls Hockey team at weekend tournaments.
“It helps that my husband is a sportsperson; he understands when I leave the kids with him and head out to coach the girls. I don’t know what I would have done without his support.”
The girls have had it tough, by the time D.C. started to coach, because of the natural dilapidation of sports gear; the team didn’t have balls, and hockey sticks were few and far between. The girls didn’t have uniform, and went to tournaments with house t-shirts. The girls really couldn’t believe it when D.C. would inform them that previous Pangani Hockey teams would score up to 20 goals in a single match against opponents.
D.C. is more than a coach; on any given day you join the team during a practice session, you notice she also ensures the girls maintain a balance with their studies and that they are emotionally and psychologically cared for. At times she does offer counsel to girls in the team who seem to be struggling.
“I am proud of these girls. Winning matches in the 2017 tournament cycle was phenomenal. These girls have so much potential.”
The team still needs a lot more support materially, as shared previously and morally in the form of recognition for their wins, to continue to build their morale. D.C. recalls getting free trips and brand new uniforms every time they won from the school administration during her Hockey hey-days in Pangani.
“Mrs Cheruiyot would pay for our trip to Lake Bogoria , with Towett driving us in the Pango “air” bus.” She smiles, “we would swim, enjoy three-course meals and get new uniforms. That was serious motivation.” She laughs heartily.
The current school schedule has changed; during D.C.’s time Hockey practice would commence from 3.30 pm and run till 7.00pm. Currently, the girls start their training at 4.30pm till 6 pm and unlike Hockey teams before, they do house duties on weekends; which does affect how much training they can get in. Now that the pitch is fixed, and the girls are back to winning matches and their esteem is growing once again, sponsorship is trickling in, the hope is that they can get more time to practice, all year round, to fully bring back the winning muscle Pangani is known for.
You can never underestimate the power of Paying It Forward. Akweri gave of his time for over two decades, which inspired women like D.C. who now, in turn, is building another generation of ferociously gifted girls. These girls are learning more powerful life lessons, of discipline, excellence, personal motivation and drive through a singular sport.
If you too would like to give of your time and skill in a sport to Pangani Girls, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org today.