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Birds of a feather play together

Barry Silah @obel_barry

What is the worst thing you remember Ray having done and gotten away with as a child?

I got a lot of punishment compared to him, so I guess he was a good boy growing up.

How and when did Ray get involved with Rugby?

I believe I inspired him to take up the sport. For him, it started out as fun, but he got hooked later to become a competitive player. He started in 2010, six years after me as a Form Three student. He got the nudge and interest at Nairobi Pentecostal Church Academy where I also schooled.

Did your family support him in his sports journey?

Ray had it a bit easier as I had already started playing before him. Our parents were concerned about his grades then and scoffed at our overindulgence in the sport. However, after seeing persistence from both of us, they had no choice, but to let it rest. I believe that is what has been able to push my younger brother more because he has the support and faith of our folks. My father now is amongst our biggest fans since he hardly misses a game.

What kind of person is Ray off the pitch of play?

He takes from my mother as he tends to empathise with every situation. He is accommodative and sociable. He is a hard worker and relishes new ideas.

Do you two consider yourselves rivals seeing as you play for the same team?

We were rivals when he played for Kenyatta University’s Blakblad. I remember one specific game we played at Impala when I saw him in front of me and I charged hard until fans almost booed. But that was then. At the club we feed off each other, I give him advice as much as I can and we go head-to-head just to give each other competition.

How does Ray complement your play style and does he help you improve?

Curtis Lilako, 27, and his brother, Raymond are rugby players who play for KCB Rugby Football Club.

Ray is a backrow, and I’m a frontrow styled player. His job description is mainly tackling and ball fetching, simple.

He takes my ball a couple of times while playing. He makes me carry the ball harder and work extra on my ball retention. He does make me improve for sure.

How is your relationship with him off the pitch? Would you consider yourselves confidantes/friends?

We are indeed good friends. Let us just say we get along well and share ideas and thoughts in matters of career and sports.

We are a close-knit family and my relationship with Ray is particularly enhanced by the fact that we play the same sport and for the same team.

Do you guys get to hang a lot together?

We do not hang out a lot. I have my friends; he has his so, we have different patterns on the social scene. When we do occasionally, we catch up and plan for future meets. Mostly, we do food hangouts and the occasional drink up. I guess we have a bit of clashing schedules and interests only neutralised by rugby where we see each other often.

Where do you see Ray’s career in the next five years?

Is he material for the pro-leagues in your view? I predict a bright future for Rugby in Kenya and definitely a good platform for Ray to advance his career locally and internationally.

He has the heart and he trains hard and has a good work ethic. These principles will certainly make him a hot prospect and if he keeps up momentum, he might just end up doing professional because he is still young and energetic with not so much distractions such as family commitments at this point.

Do the two of you mentor upcoming children in rugby spheres?

We try our best in this area. It is a bit hard as schedules are usually hard to meet. We have a young team that trains with us called Northern Suburbs. I talk to the children and also share the knowledge I have.

I also have plans to visit my former schools and try give back to where my roots are. My brother chips in as well because we realise the importance of imparting knowledge to the future of the sport.

Having won a lot of titles with KCB together, would you ever envision playing separately again for other local teams?

We have already played in different teams and together as well. Based on the varying experiences, I think it is better that we play together. It is a nice feeling donning a similar shirt with your sibling. There is a special feeling and I wish we do this for a long time coming.

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