Okombe was quiet and influential

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Nov 05, 2017
  • Mike Okombe (middle) who played 17 Test matches was described as a quiet but influential player in any jersey. He was recovering from a knee injury before joining Kabras Sugar. (Photo Courtesy)

Kenya Rugby is mourning the loss of Simbas back row Michael Shitindo Okombe who passed away on Saturday 4 November 2017 aged 27.

Okombe was an ever present fixture in the Simbas forwards, making 17 Test appearances since his debut in June 2013, finding himself on the losing side only six times.

He began his club career at Western Bulls before joining Nakuru RFC where he won back to back Kenya Cup titles during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

He had been out of action at the time of his death recovering from knee surgery and was on the verge of completing a move to former Kenya Cup champions Kabras Sugar with an eye towards reclaiming a slot in the Simbas ahead of the World Cup qualifiers.

Kenya Rugby Union Chairman Richard Omwela, paid tribute to Okombe, saying: “Mike was uncompromising on the field, but quiet, unassuming and loved off the field. His death is a big blow to the Kenyan rugby fraternity.”

Simbas Team Manager Simiyu Wangila said, "It is a very devastating loss. The squad is still coming to terms with the news of Mike's death. He was an instrumental part of this team and will surely be missed.

"We had intended for him to join up with the team after our tour of Hong Kong but tragically this will not happen. Every game we play in Hong Kong will be in Mike's memory."

His Simbas team mate Darwin Mukidza said, " He was very dependable, fierce and loyal. We were looking forward to his return but have been hit hard by the news of his demise.

"While its hard to comprehend, it fires us up to work hard and dedicate every performance to our fallen lion because Mike was the kind of person who gave his all whenever he was called upon."

Heroe's send off

Mitch Ocholla, the Nakuru RFC head coach said: "The death of Okombe is slowly sinking in all over Nakuru, Kenya and World Ruby fraternity. All we can do is wait for the truth to come out. We are still shocked and will give him a heroe's send off."

Okombe joined Nakuru from Masinde Muliro Universtity of Science and Technology in 2011. Gigson Weru, the Menengai Oilers head coach described Okombe as quies but influential.

"It's tough coming to terms with the loss. Okombe was a friend and team mate, a tough player on the pitch who gave all for the jersey he wore whether at club or national levels. I am privileged to have walked the journey of life with him," Weru stated.

Kenya Sevens stalwart Andrew Amonde eulogized Okombe, saying: "I am absolutely devastated to hear the tragic news about Mike Okombe. Deep in our hearts we will treasure all the memories we shared. Go well soldier, legend and brother."

"Michael was a rugby player of great repute and a bright future. He worked his way quietly through the ranks and was destined for a long bright future as a Kenyan international.

"Even though he is gone today, he will always be remembered by the Kenya U20 management team for being a source of inspiration to many of our young players who aspired to be like him," said Kenya U20 Head Coach Paul Odera.

May his family, friends and team mates find strength during this trying time. He will be sorely sorely missed, not only by his team mates at Top Fry Nakuru and the Simbas, but by the entire rugby fraternity.

Rest In Peace

Mike Mike Okombe Simbas Appearances

June 2013v Uganda (H)16-17 L

June 2013 v Uganda (A) 19-13 W

July 2013 v Uganda (A)51-11 W

July 2013 v Zimbabwe (A) 29-17 W

November 2013 v Namibia (A) 35-55 L

November 2013 v Zimbabwe (A) 14-29 L

July 2014 v Namibia (A) 29-22 W

July 2014 v Zimbabwe (A) 10-28 L

June 2015 v Portugal (H)41-15 W

June 2015 v Spain (H)36-27 W

July 2015 v Tunisia (H) 44-15 W

July 2015 v Zimbabwe (A) 22-28 L

August 2015 v Namibia (A) 13-49 L

June 2016 v Brazil (A) 18-17 W

June 2016 v Uganda (A) 48-10 W

July 2016 v Uganda (H) 45-24 W

August 2016 v Hong Kong (H) 34-10 W

Major accolades -Two time Kenya Cup winner with Top Fry Nakuru ( 2012/13 and 2013/14) - Enterprise Cup winner with Top Fry Nakuru (2013/14) - Elgon Cup winner (2013,2016) - African Champion (2013).

KRU 

Additional reportung by The Punter