Frank and Davis Wanangwe have scaled the heights and emerged Kenya’s cream of the crop in the game of hockey. Despite that, they live separate lives off the pitch as Davis reveals
Barry Silah @obel_barry
When their teams clash, each shields the ball from his opponent. Only that the opponent is more than that, a brother. Frank Wanangwe, 29, and Davis Wanangwe, 26, have had almost identical introduction and familiarisation with the game dating back to early primary school years at Friends School Kamusinga in Bungoma county.
In 2001, a neighbour and friend, Rodgers Ayuya who played for Western Jaguars roped them officially into the sport given their pulpable interest. They hail from a family of five boys, but only the two of them fell in love with the game.
“I guess I took up from Frank. At Kamusinga, the sports curriculum was intense and when we joined, we had to work hard. We both won the national secondary schools hockey competitions throughout our stay in Kamusinga,” says Davis.
Frank was a go-getter and because of his passion and drive, he got a full sports scholarship at the Strathmore University in 2006 to pursue Bachelor of Business Information Technology. Frank, who now plies his trade for Premier Division side Butali Sugar Warriors, had to surmount huge challenges out of love for the sport.
“I bet it’s all about sacrifice because none would have been achieved. I recall at times, getting bus fare to attend training and matches while at school was no mean feat. But Frank and I just never gave up,’’ he adds. Growing up, they were moulded and inspired by stars like Zack Aura and Inderjit Matharu. Frank who is a father of two taught his younger kin the ropes.
“We both played for Gladiators while at Strathmore, but I learnt the value of teamwork, sportsmanship and respect from him. He is a good teacher,’’ quips the Sikh Union player. To cap it all, Davis looks up to his brother whenever he’s playing for the national team. “Being with him in the Kenyan jersey is great because he mentors me all the way.
I guess for me, it becomes a double honour representing Kenya and lining up alongside Frank. Together, we have achieved so much,’’ he adds. However, despite their blood relations, Davis says both are fiercely competitive and love to win games. When both their teams clash, it is business as usual, but afterwards, relationships get back to normal.
“We cannot allow our rivalry to mess our brotherhood, at the end of the day, we are family. We try to encourage each other even during low times and face issues with an open mind,’’ he says.
Ironically, both siblings are engineers with different firms in Nairobi. Frank is a networking engineer at Dimension Data whereas Davis is a civil engineer at Civil Engineering Kenya Limited. The two have a passion for science and maths subjects and their parents encouraged and invested in their education.
But even with the busy work schedules, they still get time to bond and play as well. “We can always make time for the most important things in life. All it takes is balance and prioritisation,’’ says Davis emphatically. With sports being a key bit of their lives, the duo has ambitions to represent the country in future conquests including the Olympics and World Championships.
“Sports have offered so many opportunities for us all. We owe a lot to the game of hockey and often advise younger players to embrace it because one can earn a scholarship or a job contract,’’ he adds.
Describe Frank in three words
He is a go-getter, disciplinarian and focused individual.
How was it growing up for the two of you?
It was fun and since we were hooked onto the same sport, then we learnt a lot from each other. We noticed our deep leaning towards developing our skills and learning the tenets of the game through mentorship, training and practice.
How many championships in hockey have you two won together?
We have won two national titles in high school together, two Kenya Hockey Premier League titles with Strathmore University and a bronze medal with the national team. Individually, we both have several best player awards, four national secondary school titles, and two league titles. It has been a roller coaster for us and we keep going. Frank has the hunger and energy for more and given his fighting spirit, I expect so much more from him.
Would you consider yourselves rivals?
Not in the least. Of course, on the pitch everybody wants to emerge the winner. That feeling is nice and refreshing, but for the two of us, family is important. We do not let pitch issues ruin our relationship in the name of rivalry. When we are at home, we are cool and talk normal stuff plus game analysis every so often.
Indeed, we have come from far. Like every other player, we need great opportunity to excel through investment and infrastructure.
What does the future hold?
It is our dream to leave a mark. Frank has his ambitions and so do I, but we are both in tandem that we can still yearn for more success on the pitch and glory for ourselves, families and institutions. Nothing beats the feeling of achievement.