By Agnes Amondi,
Playing in Europe is a dream that Kenyan female footballers can now afford to dream about. The game has gone through a metamorphosis over the last four years, allowing players to now shoot for the proverbial stars.
The opportunities now keep on coming. Upto four Kenyan internationals are currently in various leagues in Europe – Corazone Aquino (Atlético Ourense, Portugal), Annedy Kundu (Lakatamia FC, Cyprus), Ruth Ingotsi (Lakatamia FC, Cyprus) and Esse Akida (Besiktas, Turkey).
Last year, we had a similar number with three who featured in the second division of Swedish football. Among them was Christine Nafula.
Playing for Dalhem IF in 2018 through to 2019 on a short term contract, it was her first opportunity abroad. Alongside her compatriots Mary Kinuthia and Terry Engesha, she was recruited at a time when the club was battling relegation.
This, Nafula affirmed did not add any undue pressure as she made the commitment to join the Dalhem based outfit in the island of Gotland.
“Personally, I did not feel any pressure when I joined even when the club was in a very precarious position in the league.
After the first game, I knew that we would stay up and that’s what happened,”
And she needed to settle quickly for any turnarounds to happen. With the kind of result they registered and the performance she produced, their isn’t any doubt that the engine was already on even before it was ignited.
An 8-2 victory against Hällbybrunn in her debut got her career underway in Dahlem.
The midfielder stated that it wasn’t the debut they anticipated but grateful to have been part of what marked the change in fortunes for them.
“We were very surprised but what moved me more is the look on our teamates faces.
They were so happy and looked forward to the next game. They gained their courage back and were more hopefull. It is a moment I still recall vividly.”
As for the perfect start, Nafula told that it was part of their ‘mission’ to “fight for the club till the end”. So their revival had to begin immediately.
The game took place just a day after they landed in the scandinavian nation. She made her mark.
“They were so welcoming.
It was like they knew us before we arrived. Looking at how they treated us we vowed to fight for them till the end.
Some matches were tough but each individual in the team was determined to fight and we got points.”
It was a win that would propel the club further. Every point they gained was crucial and central in their battle.
Eventually, the team maintained its status. In her final game, the former Gaspo Women and Thika Queens attacking midfielder proved to be just as clinical.
She contributed two goals in a high flying 9 – 0 win. Mission accomplished.
She reflected back on her time in Dalhem IF.
“As a player I think this kind of high level performance comes naturally. When I am in the pitch the only thing I think about is the ball and getting goals.
Where I am or who am playing against is never a problem,
She went on: “We were very happy for we did what we were recruited for.
The feedback we received and the fact that we finished in fourth position last year, is an indication of how positive our contribution was.”
The cherry on the cake was an award for being the best forward in the league.
For that “I am humbled and so happy about it,” she told.
Nafula is back in the country and now plys her trade with Makolanders Ladies in the Kenya Women’s Premier League (KWPL).
She reckoned that the local league still has a long way to go in terms of structural development, competitiveness and consistency, all of the traits that she used to describe the Swedish League.
That not withstanding, the lessons learnt in Sweden still remain – “teamwork any day conquers all.”
And for all those female footballers who look to follow up in her footsteps she advises “they should be disciplined and keep working hard. You never know who is watching.”
Player ProfileName: Christine Nafula
Clubs: Currently – Makolanders
Dalhme IF 2018 – 2019
Makolanders 2018 (Half Season)
Gaspo Women 2016
Thika Queens 2016
Mathare United 2008