It’s every player’s dream to be the best, win awards, titles and represent their country in national and international championships.
But for Amira Sailors midfielder Leah Omwandho, team success is more important to her than individual accolades and her goal is to get the best out of her teammates.
“Winning feels good but when we do it as a team, it feels much better. I love it when everyone is happy and beaming with confidence,” said Omwandho during an interview with the Standard Sports.
Omwandho, who is also a counselling graduate, has been putting her academic skills into good use by advising her fellow players and friends on how to cope with stress, especially after the local hockey league was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
She says she uses her skills to help her teammates and other players to communicate, understand and relate better with each other. Her focus is on helping others not to give up.
“This pandemic has turned our lives upside down. Things have really changed. Players can no longer go to the pitch and play. This has affected people differently and it is important for players to be in touch with each other while also encouraging one another during these difficult times,” she said.
The 27-year-old is, however, confident of a top-three finish with Amira Sailor when the league resumes.
She said they are going to build on last season’s fifth-place finish having learned from their mistakes.
Amira are currently top of the Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) Women’s Premier League standings with three points after thrashing newbies Oranje Leonas 3-0 in the season opener before the league was suspended.
“The season was just two weeks old when the pandemic struck and we were preparing for our second match when the league was suspended. We had made a perfect start and we are confident of building on that as the season progresses,” said the assistant captain, who already has one goal to her name.
Born and raised in Homa Bay County, Omwandho started playing hockey after joining Ng’iya Girls High School in 2007.
However, she only took the sport seriously after finishing high school in 2010. She joined the then-premier league side Vikings Hockey Club where her skills were nurtured under the tutelage of Clyde Mbaha and Tony Mbaha.
She joined Kenyatta University ladies team in 2012 and after three years, she signed for Amira Sailors in 2015.
Last year, Omwandho made her international debut after being part of the Kenyan senior team and played in the Afcon qualifiers in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
While playing for Kenyatta University Titans, she won the 3rd Edition Women’s Tournament in 2015 and also became KUSA first runner-up in 2013.
In 2016 while playing for Amira Sailors, Omwandho helped the team finish second in the Nakuru Hockey Tournament (now known as Betty Tioni Memorial Tournament) and in Angelo De Souza Tournament.
She also helped Amira Sailors finish third in the Kenya Hockey Premier league 2016-17 season.
Last year, she was voted Player of the Year in the Kenya Premier League awards.