Otieno 'Tank' Set To Rumble as KRU Rugby Services Manager

Jan 18, 2013
  • KRU Rugby Services Manager Michael Otieno.(Photo:SNA)

As a player, Michael 'Tank' Otieno cleverly evaded tackles and rumbled over the opposition which explains his nickname.

He was full of energy and seemed to always have a full tank when everybody else's was running low. Otieno had a sure boot and could kick crucial points from any position in the field and some from seemingly impossible distances. 

Well, the tank is still full and on January 4, he assumed a new position of the Kenya Rugby Union Rugby Services Manager where he is in charge of national teams, competitions (local and regional), women's rugby, development and training (coaches, trainers, educators) and match officials (referees, match commissioners etc). These are the core functions of the KRU.

The position of Rugby Services Manager is one of the administrative departments which is under the Chief Executive Officer, a newly created post which is being headed by Jack Okoth, the KRU secretary in an acting capacity before somebody is appointed. Under the CEO, there are five managers in charge of administration, finance, commercial services (vacant) and rugby services manager.

One of the immediate tasks will be development and training which Otieno will tackle as soon as he receives a report from Fred Ollows who resigned at the end of last year after 11 years as KRU Development Manager.

Already, the former Kenya full-back has identified a few key areas such as community and age-grade rugby which needs immediate strengthening.

Regional Development Centers 

Top of his agenda is the setting up of Regional Development Centers (RDC) which will focus on talent identification and development.

"'This is what has been missing in the KRU fabric and many other sports organizations,"' he offered. Four regions - Nairobi (which will include Central and Eastern Regions), Coast, Western Kenya and Rift Valley - have been identified. The headquarters of the Western Region will be at Kakamega High School. 

In these regions, KRU will use the existing structures which have been set up under the Kenya Secondary Schools Association (formerly provincial competitions). The aim is to identify 60 students - aged 18 and under -  per center.

40 will be trained for 15's and 20 for seven's rugby because each discipline requires different technical skills. Otieno explained that the specialized training will be fluid because the students could be used for both disciplines.

Training camps will be held for two weeks during school holidays in April which will come immediately after the regional competitions in February and March from where the students will have been identified by regional coordinators. The aim of the RDC will be to standardize the technical, tactical, strength and conditioning, nutrition, lifestyle skills as well as correct the basic technical skills. 

From this program - if sustained - some 240 students will be available every year for age-grade competitions such as the under-19 and under-20. Most of these graduates will also be available to local clubs and thereby provide a steady flow of players to the upper echelons of rugby. It will also be possible to monitor the progress and performance of the players.

"'The beauty of this is that if any coach needs a specific player with certain attributes, it would be easy to meet this request,'' explained Otieno.

The KRU Rugby Services Manager said it was important to ensure that the caliber of personnel at the RDC had the proper skills and were trained and equipped to ensure the success of the program. A regional coordinator acting as the coach will be employed at each of the four centers.

The KRU will conduct training for the regional coordinators and development facilitators. In a KRU workshop, they will be able to work with the KRU coach educators who have been certified by the International Rugby Board. From the workshop, the KRU will develop a uniform curriculum to be used at all the RDC. 

On his part, Otieno will do the quality analysis and appraisal of the whole program. He is confident that if the program is properly initiated this year, the benefits could be realized as early as next year.

"' But the focus is on 2015 with a definite qualification for the 2019 Rugby World Cup as the ultimate aim."


 Eric Odanga

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