A decade of St Anthony Boys’ Kitale prowess in National and East Africa regional sports
Written by Leonard Wamalwa
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Situated within Kitale town in Trans Nzoia County and sponsored by the Catholic Church under Kitale diocese, St Anthony's Boys' high school is a complex of many activities ranging from academics to extracurricular in which it has prominently featured at different levels.
In this exclusive coverage of the school, we reveal how the school has dominated in various sporting disciplines within the province, nation and even in the East African region.
Our major focus is on soccer and hockey which the school has attained trophies right from the district level to the regional level of the championships.
East African Secondary Schools Championships
St Anthony's Boys soccer team famously known as 'Solidarity Boys' is the only Kenyan secondary school that has ever clinched the East African secondary schools soccer champions’ trophy since its inception in 2002.
The school was the pioneer winner of the trophy in 2002 at Nairobi's Nyayo National Stadium where the first finals of the championships were held and has since reached several finals of the same tournament, but has not managed to clinch the title again.
In 2003, St Anthony lost in the finals of the East Africa Secondary Schools Sports Association finals to Standard High school of Uganda in as they defended their trophy at Nakivubo Stadium in Kampala Uganda.
The school later in 2004 became third runners up in the championships held at Shanzu Teachers College in Mombasa in which St Mary's Kitende from Uganda became eventual winners who have won the trophy since then to date apart from 2005 when they lost to Makongo high school of Tanzania held in Mbarara Uganda.
In 2005 the school took position three after losing to the eventual winners Makongo from Tanzania 2-1 in the semis and failed to participate in the tournament in the following year 2006 after failing to clinch the national title after losing in the preliminaries at Nakuru high school.
However, in 2007 Solidarity Boys bounced back and reclaimed their lost glory by winning the national championships at Nyeri complex primary school where they beat Kisumu Day 1-0 in the finals and hence qualified once again to participate in the regional championships held at Moi Stadium Kisumu, but could not reach the finals.
They took the fourth position after losing in the semi finals to Makongo of Tanzania in post match penalties and later lost in the ply-offs to a Rwandan team
St Anthony's school principa Cosmas Nabungolo and Games master and soccer team manager Martin Kisiang'ani holding some of the major trophies won by the school teams at different championships.
The schools performance started to dwindle in 2008 after they failed to reach national championships due to their provincial’s final loss to their neighbors Kabuyefwe secondary on post match penalties after a barren draw. The following year they again lost to the same Kabuyefwe at county level in a re-match held at Sudi stadium in Nzoia Bungoma County.
2010 still had more woes for St Anthony after they lost in the provincial finals in Nakuru High school where they lost to Laiser Hill Academy from Kajiado who later became the provincial champions.
The team later in 2011 managed to reach the national championships, but lost in the preliminaries at Moi Forces Academy in what the school games master-cum-soccer manager Martin Kisiang'ani described as poor officiating by the referees.
Apart from their consistency at the regional secondary schools competitions, St Anthony did not lose grip on the provincial and national championships where they held the national secondary schools championships three times in 2003, 2005 and 2007.They were Rift Valley provincial champions from 2001 to 2007.
In an exclusive interview with West FM the schools soccer team manager Kisiang'ani affirmed that the team is still headed to its former glory and attributed their long outstanding performances to discipline, both at class, general school and field levels from the players.
Hard work and support from the school administration and other stakeholders has seen the school achieve such tremendous and historic gains under the leadership of the school principal Cosmas Stephen Nabungolo.
Build up matches with teams from Western Province and Kenya Premier League Clubs such as Western Stima and nationwide league teams such as Home Boys from Kakamega, West Kenya Sugar and Nzoia Sugar FC has had a major boost to the team.
Prominent players from KPL teams have also been invited at several occasions to counsel the players and train with them for some time as they act as their motivators and role models hence building their confidence and ambitions as future soccer stars.
Prominent players produced by the team
Over 35 players who are former players of St Anthony boys are now playing in different teams in the Kenya Premier league.
They include: Dennis Mukaisi of Tusker, Collins Kisuya who went for trials in Belgium from Tusker, one of Tusker goalkeeper Samwel Odhiambo, Mathare's Kevin Kimani who also emerged 2011 KPL player of the year, Chemili goalkeeper and captain John Wawu and his assistant captain Mutai Murage.
Others includeThika United goalkeeper Lucas Indeche, Nairobi Stars goalkeeper Majani and cousins Edwin Barasa AFC Leopards fullback and and KCB's Milton Wafula among many others not mentioned here.
Just like their soccer colleagues, the St Anthony's boy’s hockey team has tried as much to prominently feature at regional and national championships of the game.
The team that is this year's national hockey champions has also clinched the East African secondary schools trophy three times unlike the soccer team that has held it once.
They first won the trophy in 2008 in Kigali Rwanda before losing to Friends School Kamusinga the following year but later won in 2010 and 2011 consecutively in Nakuru Kenya and Mbarara Uganda consecutively.
It is also set to participate in this year's regional championships slated to be held in Burundi to defend the trophy.
Since 2007 to date, the schools hockey team has won the district, county and provincial championships in a row.