As he nears the end of his career with seven-time Kenya Cup champions KCB RFC, Curtis Lilako has made a name for himself during his 11-year’s stint with the Ruaraka-based club.
Unlike most of his teammates, however, the captain does his job rather quietly. Lilako has seen it all and won it all in his decade of playing professional rugby.
The 30-year-old prop has won four Kenya Cup titles (including three in a row from 2017), four Enterprise Cup titles, seven Elgon Cup titles, two Africa Cup titles and even captained Kenya Simbas last year in their match against Zambia.
“You can just see he’s a competitor,” KCB head coach Curtis Olago said in an interview with the Standard Sports.
“Lilako loves to compete and win trophies, no matter what sport and level it is. He would even be competitive in a game of cards.”
One-man one club, Lilako, who joined KCB as a rookie from high school in 2009, is in the middle of his 11th season with the bankers and doesn’t seem ready stop any time soon.
“Despite clocking 30 years last week, I believe I still have some energy left in the tank to push me through the next three to five years,” Lilako said.
The first-born in a family of four boys, Lilako grew up with a passion for football during his childhood years at St. Hannah’s Preparatory Primary School in Karen, Nairobi.
“I made my debut for KCB during the 2009 IRB Junior World Rugby tournament and from then on, my Kenya Cup journey with the bankers started,” he said.
Under the tutelage of the then coach Michael ‘Tank’ Otieno, Lilako pays homage to former Kenya Simbas coach for being instrumental to his growth.
“Tank believed in my ability as a player, despite being quite small, at 84kg. At the time, I was a good tackler, which I guess was what got me to play. Furthermore, my playing journey was really shaped by the likes of Derrick Wamalwa, Edwin Alubaka, Arthur Shikwe, Andrew Amonde, Curtis Olago and Peter Mutai, among other big names at KCB,” he said.
Lilako made his first senior national debut for Kenya Simbas against Uganda in 2011. He has racked up 38 caps with the national men’s rugby 15s senior team and has helped Kenya win the Elgon Cup six times and Africa Cup twice.
Lilako won his first senior title with KCB in 2013 and went on to help the bankers win the Impala Floodlights for three years running; from 2013 to 2015.
He was appointed the club captain in 2015 and in what seemed to be paying back to the club, guided KCB to their fourth Kenya Cup title. He was also declared the season’s top try scorer and points scorer.
“Being a prop and finishing as top scorer was just phenomenal. I never saw that coming and it made me hungry for more titles,” Lilako said.
He went on to guide KCB to three unprecedented Kenya Cup titles between 2017 and 2019 and he was confident of a fourth one this year, were it not for the coronavirus pandemic that led to the cancellation of the 2019-2020 Kenya Cup season.
“Having a culture based on family, accountability among the playing unit and hard work, has been the key to our recent success,” he adds.
Off the pitch, Lilako is a fraud analyst at KCB Bank and enjoys reading books.