Hockey for Vivian Akoth began with an urge for adventure, unlike many of her peers who are in sports out of influence either from older siblings, parents or friends. For her, she had played ‘other games’ and wanted to try out something new.
Akoth currently marshals Lakers Hockey Club’s defense line in the Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) Women’s Premier League. It’s her first time in the top flight. Is she scared? For someone who only started playing the sport two years into high school?
She says she is settled and can only look forward at what the future holds for her.
Sports Review Kisumu caught up with Vivian Akoth for an insight into her hockey journey after he impressive display against the United States International University (USIU) and premier league champs Telkom over the weekend of Saturday 18th-19th.
”We could have won against Telkom but I guess we were just overwhelmed with the two-goal lead. A little more concentration and we would have bagged a major win. They are an experienced side and we knew it was going to be a tough match so we gave it our all right from the start,” she says.
Lakers had recorded a barren draw against USIU- a good result according to coach Brian Aduda, and led defending champions Telkom by goals but last minute lapse in concentration saw the visitors manage a two-goal comeback.
Still, this is the best match she has ever played.
”I have some incredible matches in the past but the Telkom one had something in it. Every minute was important and looking at how we fought, I feel it was my best ever match,” continues Akoth, whose first real hockey experience she says, came right at their home venue Kisumu Simba Club.
St Theresa’s Girls High School Kibuye didn’t have the best of hockey resources when she decided to pursue the sport but with the encouragement of former coach Stanlous Ochan, they managed a few and made the most of the equipment. On a good training day in school, Akoth says they would be five in number- but still did not relent.
During the holidays her coach Stanlous invited her to train with Kisumu Simba (currently Butali Sugar warriors). A huge turning point in her hockey pursuits.
”It was not easy. Sometimes you could have the ball just once in one training session,” she laughs.
Training with Kisumu Simba men’s side was a tall order for her, but nothing ever came easy she says.
”I did not give up and kept on coming to train, so when I went back to school, it was all easy for me playing against fellow girls,”
St Theresa’s best ever shot at the Kisumu county hockey title came when she was doing her final year at the school in 2017. They had been paired with East African hockey champions Sinyolo girls and looking back, Akoth says they should have won that match.
”It is one of my best matches. We lost 1-0, but we should have won, especially after scoring first and not having the goal stand. That demoralized most of us and our opponents capitalized on that,” she recalls.
School season ended on a sour note but she had something to smile about. In standing firm against the regional hockey champions, she had been spotted.
Lakers Hockey Club had seen some talent and invited her to come join the then second division team. A quick debut soon followed as she traveled with the team to face Nakuru Women’s Hockey team, one they won 1-0 courtesy of an Alice Owiti goal.
Akoth is only here at the top for the first time, and the Kisumu Polytechnic student knows the future holds the very best for her. With Lakers currently sitting 3rd on the premier league table standings with 7 points from 5 matches, there’s a lot of promise to the side.