The 2022 World Cup–in which Lionel Messi ended the GOAT debate–marked a time that will forever be remembered in Football history.
The game between the Saudi Arabian team versus the Argentina team was a sensational yet hilarious moment. Saudi Arabia’s coach, Hervé Renard, was seen in a viral video expressing his frustrations in English about the players’ performance in the first half of the game. The hilarious bit was the fact that the players only spoke and understood Arabic! The video displayed a translator, effectively translating the message to the players in Arabic with the same fury that matched the coach. At the end of it, all the Saudi team beat Argentina in that particular match.
Bethuel Muteshi (Omwami), a talented backrow rugby player, number 8 to be specific, found himself in a similar situation after he was recently recruited to join the Stade Caennais Rugby team in France. His coach speaks in French, while Bethuel knows bits and pieces of the language!
He narrates his experience as a Stratizen, his journey while at the Cage (SU Sports Complex) as a Leo and transitioning to play nationally and internationally.
“The door man, bus driver, everyone, probably the Eiffel Tower, speak in French! Oh, the myriad of times of misunderstanding and confusion. “Monsieur, je ne parle pas français…The struggle is real!” he sighs. “But as they say, when you go to Rome, you do what the Romans do. To get acclimatized to the new environment, I began watching movies and French shows with English subtitles and often with French subtitles or sometimes with none at all. At the local restaurants, one would find me reading the daily newspaper with my phone on one hand, googling what certain words mean while on the other, sipping a hot cup of a la thé while munching a croissant, probably two.” He laughs… “They’re delicious! One is definitely not enough.”
“Currently, I am enrolled in a French class with some of my English speaking team mates, which has significantly helped me in learning the language. With time, I will get the hang of it. Je voudrais… s’il vous plait.” Bethuel flexes his knowledge of the language, proud that soon, he will speak the language fluently.
The journey at the Cage
“Everyone has that one person they look up to. A hero. A mentor. Be it for their height, skill, talent, zeal, they fuel our passion to be successful. The likes of Humphrey Kayange, Richie Mako, a New Zealand player, Peter Waitere Parma, and Joshua Chisanga just to mention a few, are remarkable men both inside and outside the pitch, who have been my role models. Their extraordinary legacy and success inspires me to do the best I can. XXVII! The mantra that motivates us, the Strathmore Leos, to put in maximum effort with a positive mindset in all our endeavours, all day every day. Huge props to the Leos and Coaches Mich Ochola, Paul Odera, Malik Ndemi and Kisia Louis, they have taught me to be who I am today.
#GoPlacesWithSU, an assurance I got when I signed up to join #SU. True to that fact, rugby has taken me and the team places, both within and outside the country and in turn, we brought back home the glory. Our names are etched in fields we played in such as Kakamega, Nakuru and Kisumu, just to mention a few; the grass burns are a true testament. 2020, the year that we, Strathmore Leos, were promoted back into the Kenya Cup was a tremendous achievement for the team. In 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 seasons, we made it to the Kenya Cup Semi Finals as the only university represented! A huge win. Not to mention winning the 2018 Mwamba Cup, and Floodlights 2019. The list goes on and on. The Strathmore Leos truly are a force to be reckoned with.
It was through such opportunities and exposure that paved the way for growth as I scaled the heights and earned a slot at the Kenya National Rugby Team, where I played numerous games such as the Currie Cup 2022 where the Kenya Simba came in second, the 2023 World Cup whereby, unfortunately, we were knocked out of the 2023 World Cup qualifiers.”
Bethuel, commonly known as Baku quips, “some students shy away from engaging in extracurricular activities, thinking it will lead to under-performance in academics. However, in real sense, it teaches one-time management and discipline. From fitting in training sessions, to daily classes, social obligations and work, perhaps. There is no question that extra-curricular activities contribute to a huge part of a student’s experience as they are beneficial and expose one to a lifelong learning experience.
On the flip side, chasing my passion for rugby meant that the barrel of education too must be pushed to be an all rounded student. It called for sleepless nights to study hours on end just to catch up on the assignments and notes. I had an amazing circle of lecturers and friends that were very supportive in my academic journey as they kept me on track.
Looking towards the future
“Three months in, I am slowly adjusting to a new environment. The weather, not so much like the scorching prolonged January sun,” he laughs, “In fact, it’s the opposite. We are in the winter season.,. and wueh! Il est tres frois! But I am managing it. I am enjoying myself as I adapt to this new space. Come June 2023, I hope to travel back to Kenya to turn the tassel with my friends as I will be graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. A chapter that in itself was full of lessons that are engraved in me. I am grateful.
What next? Time will tell… but for now, rugby is my career.
This article was written by Jemmy Kamau.
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