19 June 2012

KENYA : Tragedy touches women’s basketball in Kenya

Tragedy touches women’s basketball in Kenya
NEWCASTLE (Paul Nilsen’s Women’s Basketball Worldwide) - It’s ever so easy to get caught up in the excitement of a summer which boasts so many fascinating and exciting tournaments or perhaps to focus far too closely on the big names and elite level teams around the globe.
 However, just occasionally, it probably does us all some good to actually reflect on how lucky we are to have this wonderful game and close-knit women’s basketball family as part of our lives.
Even more so when you find out about the devastating death of a young female baller who loved the sport so very much but will sadly never get to bounce another ball or get to watch any big tournaments.

I never knew Diana Akinyi but when reading about her death via Brian Ayieko at the excellent www.basket-in-africa.blogspot.co.uk, it was quite emotional to think of just how sad the circumstances were and the impact this has had on the entire basketball community in Kenya.

In what has since been dubbed the ‘Mlolongo Tragedy’, a building collapsed just over a week ago in Kenya and while 15 people survived after sustaining serious injuries, Akinyi was unfortunately one of four people who were killed in the incident.
She had previously played her basketball in the MTN Basketball League in Uganda with Kampala International University before returning home to play for Kenya Polytechnic or simply ‘The Poly’ as the team is affectionately known.
Unsurprisingly, an emotional Victor Mak’Osewe who is head coach of the team told michezoafrika.com that Akinyi would be sorely missed.
“She was one of the best defensive players and we shall really miss her,” he said
“She was full of life, a leader and an experienced girl in the team.
“Her sudden death is a big blow not only to our team but to the Kenya Basketball family,” Mak'Osewe added.
The other reason this is a tragedy striking at the very heart of the basketball community is that her brother Davidson Olouch is also a baller who plays in the Kenyan capital.
I had hoped when I wrote only a few weeks ago about Cameroon guard Ramses Lonlack and the camaraderie which exists between African basketball nations that it wouldn’t be re-enforced in this very painful context.
This tragic loss isn’t just about Kenyan or African basketball. It’s one which certainly won't go unrecognised by the women's basketball family right around the globe – of that you can be absolutely certain.
Therefore I would just like to end this short but hopefully thought provoking column by offering Davidson and his family my sincere condolences and by adding that I hope basketball can in some part give him the comfort and strength to get through losing his sister who shared his passion for the sport.

Paul Nilsen Fiba.com

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