Kenya’s national curling team is intensifying its training this year as the sport’s rapid growth in the country fuels their determination to enhance its popularity domestically and participate in a wider array of global events.
In February 2021, the Kenya Curling Federation made history by joining the World Curling Federation, becoming the second African country after Nigeria to be part of the federation. Then, in October of the same year, Kenya formed its national curling team, venturing into the realm of ice and snow sports that were previously unfamiliar in the country’s sporting landscape.
Despite being a sport played on ice, the closure of Kenya’s only ice rink due to the pandemic compelled the curling team to adapt and practice the sport on wooden floors. However, the team members found the challenging experience enjoyable, underlining their unwavering determination to pursue careers in the Olympic winter sport.
Laventer Oguta, president of the Kenya Curling Federation, fondly recounted the challenging beginnings of the new sport.
“So, during that time when we were starting at [in] 2021 at Kasarani Stadium, there was no ice, Panari closed down because the government had closed social gatherings, so there was [were] no sporting activities, there was nothing happening,” Oguta said.
Two years later, the Kenyan curlers are now training on the ice rink, enjoying improved conditions compared to their initial journey. Within this period, they have also embarked on international travels, including visits to countries such as Canada, to gain invaluable experience, resulting in the accumulation of international medals along the way.
“When we go out there, we get to learn from other colors, we get new skills, new tips and we come and impart them on others,” said Bramwel Nanyendo, manager at the federation.
“Since then, we have been training. We have managed to represent the country in several championships. Last year in pan continental, we won a bronze medal for our first championship. We were to travel to Finland but it did not happen. This time we have just come from Canada. We were not lucky because of the preparations but it all went well,” Oguta said.
The rapid growth and increasing popularity of curling in Kenya have paved the way for the introduction of the sport to different age groups. Notably, the sport has also attracted a growing number of individuals with disabilities.
“We have senior men; senior means we have people above 50 years (old). And we have other teams like (the ones) below 50 (years old) that just came from Canada that are men and women. We also have the junior men and women and we also have the deaf. The deaf are also preparing for their Deaflympics in Turkiye next year,” Oguta said.
This development has generated new avenues of opportunity for the country, including the chance to compete and qualify for the upcoming Winter Olympics scheduled to take place in the Italian cities of Milan and Cortina in 2026.