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Learning life skills through handball

Fiona Wasike keenly listening to her coach, Peter Mwathi.

The women’s handball team is growing and among those assisting in its growth is Fiona Wasike. She shares the values and lessons the game has taught her.

When did you join the sport?

I started playing in 2013, when I was in Form Three. The main motivation at this point was to get into as many sports activities as possible because it guaranteed adventure. Sports people were rarely in the school over the weekends. These outings were the highlight of high school and sports was a one-way ticket to attending most of them, either as a player or as part of the cheering squad.

One day when watching a final of the national league games, our coach who played on the Strathmore team, introduced me to his coach, Peter Mwathi. After I finished high school, he invited me to join the Strathmore team in their training sessions, which would occupy my time as I would otherwise be at home twiddling my thumbs. With this we started forming the girls’ team little by little.

What do you study at Strathmore?

I applied for a scholarship to study CPAs. I am currently pursuing Section 6 while working at the Finance office.

What has playing handball taught you?

Handball is a team sport. You have to learn to work with personalities different from your own to achieve a common goal. You have to encourage by giving compliments and correct your teammates face to face; so you have to learn the art of giving and receiving criticism. I have also become resilient and patient. You see, in handball, the last whistle is the one that counts.  You can lose or win a game based on the last few seconds of the match.

How does the experience of playing handball help you at your work place?

I am able to translate these things in my work place as they are the same virtues I need in order to be a good worker. This is an extra-curricular activity that sets you apart when it comes to looking for a job.

What is the greatest challenge you have gone through since you took up the sport?

I tore my knee ligaments during a match. This injury kicked me out of the game for close to one year.

An injury to a sports person feels like a death sentence, doesn’t it?

Yes. It was definitely the hardest period of my life. I went through surgery, intense rehabilitation, and had to use crutches for a while. I isolated myself from handball, and from anything to do with sports. But time flies. I had a strength and conditioning coach who helped me get back into shape.

How do you juggle work, study, and the sport?

Strathmore helps you realise that you are not only a sports person, you need to study and build your career at the same time. I remember we once had matches in Voi from Friday to Saturday and I was expected to sit for an exam on Monday morning. You can imagine the amount of juggling that goes into keeping all aspects of my life sane.

What about a social life?

It exists but you have to choose your priorities. If your friends want you to go out with them at the same time that you have to train, you have to forego the social event. Commitment does not come easy but I think that if you are doing something that you love then you don’t even realise that there are sacrifices being made.

What are your interests off the field?

I enjoy social work. I have a friend who lets me know about any upcoming opportunities to take part in such events.

What are your future aspirations?

Next year, I would like the team to win the university league championships. For the last two years we represented the Nairobi Northern region in the university league championships and reached as far as the quarter finals. I would also like to join the national team. I dream of winning the All Africa Games trophy and seeing my name in the lineup mentioned in the daily newspapers.

This article was written by Wambui Gachari.

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