Laban Kipsang’s childhood dream was to be a high footballer, a striker like Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga or former Arsenal, Manchester United and Inter Milan ahead Alexis Sanchez. He cherished the work charge and keenness of Alexis and Olunga, and particularly their confidence, creativity and prowess when taking free-kicks and penalties. However, his older brother, Reuben Chepkonga, who was additionally a rugby participant, had different concepts for him. He inspired the fifth-born in a household of seven to immerse himself in rugby.
How did you get into rugby?
Initially I used to be a soccer ahead (quantity 9). That was my dream profession. I attended soccer coaching periods in Eldoret as my brother went for rugby coaching, however ultimately he satisfied me that rugby was a superb sport and inspired me to attempt it. On the time, I used to be a soccer striker at Uasin Gishu Main College. I didn’t have any curiosity in rugby. I believed that rugby was a tough sport the place one can simply get injured. However after a while, I made a decision to attempt it out. My brother would take me for coaching periods with the College of Eldoret’s Trojans when his college was on recess. He taught me the fundamentals like tackling and passing, and steadily, I developed curiosity.
Whereas in Type Three at Baringo Excessive College, our crew reached the Rift Valley regional faculty video games and it was there that I used to be noticed by Laiser Hill College, who had defeated us 14-0 within the semifinals. The varsity’s trainer and rugby coach Geoffrey Okisai provided me a full scholarship and I gladly accepted the supply. I studied there and performed rugby for the remaining two years of highschool. Instantly afterwards, I attended trials for the Kenya U-20 crew (Chipu) forward of the Barthes Trophy match 2021. Fortunately, I impressed the coaches and was chosen. We gained the title!
So, you by no means went to varsity after secondary faculty?
I took a certificates course at Kenya Medical Coaching Faculty (KMTC) and I’m a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and paramedic set to graduate in December this 12 months. I’m presently unemployed, however I’m in search of a job.
Your dream is to play for Kenya Sevens someday. What are you doing to make sure you attain this objective?
As a devoted Christian, I put God first in every little thing I do. To attain this objective, I do energy and conditioning workout routines at Alpha Match gymnasium alongside Ngong Street each morning. Within the evenings, I work on my health at Kenya Harlequin Rugby Membership. I additionally watch a lot of the World Rugby Sevens Collection video games to find out how totally different gamers and groups execute their expertise on the sector. My final objective is to play for the Kenya Sevens rugby crew and I pray to God that someday I will be on the massive screens.
Nicknames can encourage, and you’ve got very attention-grabbing ones. Inform us about them…
Certainly one of my nicknames is Maro Itoje, which comes from the England Rugby Membership’s lock and jumper. My brother Reuben gave it to me. Itoje is nice with excessive balls due to his peak. He nearly all the time wins balls from scrums, and can be good at tackling and defending. His shows encourage me to maintain working arduous to enhance my expertise. We play the identical place and I simply love the best way he runs into the area, then offloads the ball to his teammates. That’s my factor. I additionally like lineouts as a result of I consider I can use my peak effectively to leap for and win the ball.
What are a few of the challenges you might have confronted?
My household just isn’t effectively off, so it was fairly some time earlier than my mum may afford to purchase my first rugby boots, which price Sh4,000. Even once I was enjoying soccer, I used sneakers donated to me by a good friend, Xavier Okoth. Additionally, I used to stroll all the best way to Eldoret Sports activities Membership from our dwelling in Maili Nne to attend coaching periods. That was an amazing problem. I usually arrived there once I was already drained as a result of it’s a lengthy distance, which might usually require you to board two matatus to get there. Getting the right food plan was additionally a problem but in rugby, it’s a must to eat effectively and take your dietary supplements to remain in form.
Inform us in regards to the highlights and lowlights of your profession …
My finest second was throughout the Kenya Cup match between my crew, Quins and Kabras Sugar, final season. I got here on as a second-half substitute. We obtained a lineout and from it, I gained the ball from the turnover. It felt good as a result of I didn’t suppose that I may try this towards such a formidable facet like Kabras. Profitable Barthes Trophy in 2021 was one other proud second for me. My worst second was in June 2022 once I picked a knee harm throughout the Nationwide rugby sevens circuit simply earlier than Driftwood Sevens in Mombasa. I needed to keep out for 2 months.
The place do you get your inspiration to play rugby?
There aren’t so many individuals from my neighborhood who play rugby. My neighborhood is generally recognized for athletics. I wish to be totally different. I wish to dispel this notion that solely folks from Luo, Luhya and Kisii communities are good in rugby and present that even Kalenjins can excel on this sport. I additionally wish to present youngsters and upcoming rugby gamers that with ardour and arduous work, it’s doable to excel regardless of your background.
Who’re your position fashions?
Other than Maro Itoje, I am keen on Kenya Sevens captain Andrew Amonde who performs for KCB Rugby Soccer Membership. He’s a ahead like me. I like the best way how robust and assured he’s and the way he runs with the ball. He isn’t simple to convey down.
What life classes have you ever learnt from rugby?
I’ve learnt the best way to utterly block my fears, deal with any issues and to all the time end robust in no matter I do. I apply these ideas each in rugby and in my day by day life.