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Leading the handball team to victory

Maxwell Munene is the Strathmore University men’s handball team captain. The team (Tornados) is in the league of winners as it dominates the university league championships. We spoke to him about the game and how it fits into his life.

When did you start playing handball?

I was introduced to handball in form three, in 2004, while in high school. Simon Wasike, who also plays for the varsity team, was a year ahead of me in school, and he encouraged me to start playing. As I had nothing else that was occupying my free time I took up the offer. I watched him join Strathmore and I followed in his footsteps the following year. The Strathmore coach came to matches to headhunt for handball players and he spotted me.

What course are you doing?

I am pursuing a Bachelor of Business and Information Technology (BBIT) under a sports scholarship. I am in my third year.

When did you become the team captain?

I became the captain when I was in my second year. I’m responsible for the team when the coach is not there. I have to keep the morale up when the going gets tough. One of the highlights was during last year’s sports and clubs awards when I received the Captain’s award as well as the Most Improved Player award.

What are the benefits of playing handball?

To begin with, I have got the opportunity to study at Strathmore. Handball has also taken me to places I have never been before. I have now visited western Kenya.  We also went to Tanzania last year to participate in the East and Central Club Championships where we won the bronze medal.

It seems the Tornados are breezing through all their matches. Is this the highest level you have attained?

We have been the winners in the university league games for five consecutive years. Last year we won our maiden Super Cup title. However, we were not able to defend the title this year. We lost it to Black Mamba.

What is it like to lose a match?

It is discouraging. At times you blame yourself for the mistakes you made. Perhaps that’s what cost you the match. Other times you acknowledge that your opponent had a better game, and you learn from them.

Are you able to have a social life?

Yes. It is possible to keep up with a social life as we meet new friends when we go for matches.

How about juggling academics with the sport?

There are moments when there is intense pressure. For instance, we went to Tanzania during the study week. We came back on a Sunday and we had exams scheduled on Monday. In such scenarios, you have to see where the books fit in.

We train every day after classes and sometimes on Saturdays when we don’t have a match. Sometimes we have matches scheduled on Sunday afternoons. During the week, I sleep early and wake up at 1 am or 2.30 am in order to study.

Why do you wake up so early?

This time gives me a silent atmosphere to study. At this time no one will want to make conversation or ask you for relationship advice. But I go back to sleep until 6 am. I have to maintain my sports scholarship.

Is it possible to lose the scholarship?

Yes, and some people have. There are standards that have to be adhered to. One has to make sure that neither their sports performance nor their academics suffer.

What is the other side of you apart from handball?

I am the second born in a family of four boys. My father was a football coach in high school while my eldest brother plays rugby at university level.

Describe the experience of growing up with brothers only.

Growing up, my mother insisted that we cook, wash dishes and do the laundry. We would have someone to help with the chores during the school term, especially after my youngest brother was born, but as soon as we got home for the school holiday, she would proceed to go on leave and we would take over.

So are you a good cook?

I can cook but let’s say my skills are enough for basic survival and just a bit more.

This article was written by Wambui Gachari.

If you have a story, kindly email: communications@strathmore.edu