Fort Portal — Mention of Kapenguria, a dry town northeast of Kitale in Kenya, sends banditry, insecurity and drought races through the mind. Many people may think that nothing of substance can come out of this district.
But the town near the Saiwa Swamp National Park and the museum in the prison where Jomo Kenyatta was incarcerated during the Mau Mau war is also home of Tegla Loroupe, the world marathon and half-marathon record holder.
Another good thing has come out of there: After a long 15 years, Kapenguria Boys High School made it to the national games and also sailed to the East Africa Schools Games that start here on Monday.
Although they did not win the national title, after losing 3-0 to newcomers Langata High, they were a force to reckon with.
"We must make a mark at these games. Many look down upon us and view us as underdogs. It's this status that we will thrive in," said the team's coach, Wycliffe Magero.
"The championship will be tough, but there's one thing people must know: We won't be whipping boys here."
Certainly no one expected "Kape Boys" to make it to the nationals finals, especially after they were handed Kakamega's "Green Commandoes" in the semi-finals.
But Magero says matches are won through tactics and they will employ the same when they meet Old Kampala on Monday morning.
"We don't fear any team, and we are aiming to get to the semi-finals. That will be a big boost for us. Bring on any team. We are not scared of them; we have what it takes to make it," he added.
After a sweet revenge over their perennial rivals Goseta Secondary from Trans Nzoia, who defeated them 2-0 during the North Rift provincial games, "Kape" seemed to have found their long-lost touch.
Secret of success
Asked what their secret is, Magero said: "The primary schools around us are full of talent and that's where we got our winning team. A lot of support has also come from our administration."
Magero will be banking on Laban Kedi and Juma Roberts in Monday's match.
The other Kenyan team playing today is Langata, against Uganda's national champions Buddo Secondary in a match that has been billed as a "battle of the titans". Buddo defeated Old Kampala 2-1 in the final.
"It has been a very long trip to get here. It's just unbelievable," said Buddo captain Iddy Babu.