Onyala hopeful of Shujaa's 2024 Olympics qualification despite relegation from World Series

Photo Credit: Dubai 7s

RUGBY Onyala hopeful of Shujaa's 2024 Olympics qualification despite relegation from World Series

Mark Kinyanjui 07:35 - 30.06.2023

Shujaa were relegated from the 2022/23 World Sevens Series but the vice-captain is optimistic the side can bounce back.

Kenya Sevens vice captain Vincent Onyala believes that Shujaa can overcome the adversity of being relegated from the world series by qualifying for the 2024 Olympics and getting back into the series in the 2024/25 season.

Onyala was out for six months after suffering a knee injury which relegated him to playing a peripheral part on the pitch last season, but he has revealed he is fully fit and ready to help the side get back on its feet again and restore its reputation.

“At the beginning of the season when we started in Hong Kong, I was injured and I had to stay out for a whole six months,” Onyala said.

“Coming back to see that the team is relegated has created a force for the union to see if we can get new players from the local circuit to come and supplement the programme with the boys that are there and even to see that the boys qualify for the Olympics which is a short term goal but long term, to help us get back into the series."

Shujaa are scheduled to take part in the 2023 Africa Men's Sevens/Olympic Qualifiers event scheduled for the 23rd and 24th of September this year.

“We have a chance. Once bitten twice shy. It will only be fair for us as players to reward ourselves after all the problems we have gone through this season. It will be fair for us to reward ourselves by qualifying for the Olympics through the Africa Sevens and eventually representing the country on the global stage.”

Having made his debut for the national team as a 22-year-old during the second leg of the 2018/19 HSBC World Sevens Series, Onyala has also discussed the challenge of taking a leadership role in the team, describing the situation as “baptism of fire”. 

“It was a baptism of fire. When we were coming in, the senior players were just leaving the team and the juniors had to take over. The juniors are becoming seniors and eventually, I am now part of the leadership.

“It is a journey. We need to guide the youngsters that are coming in to not go through what happened previously. Having the seniors leaving the setup abruptly will disrupt the system and having the new guys have the leadership roles in the team will give them a stronger background for making sure we perform on the world stage.”

The SportPesa Sevens Circuit will commence in July with the aim of helping the federation spot new players that will be vital in helping Shujaa restore its pride.