Kenya will play in its first major tournament when they replace Morocco in the Middle East Africa Championship, to be held at the Legon Stadium, University of Accra, Ghana, from September 27- October 2.
“It's a great opportunity to assess the progress of Kenya Rugby League and will help motivate players in a high performance environment,” said KRLF chair Richard Adhere. “This will definitely spur growth of rugby league in Kenya. It will also accord RL an opportunity to market and grow a brand that is still in its infancy.”
John Mbai, KRLF director of growth and development, added: “We have developed a local working structure that has been designed ostensibly as a platform for players to move into the international arena, as part of growing the game. This will also add impetus to efforts geared towards player development through clubs, and make the domestic league more competitive. It will be a learning opportunity and help empower our referees, coaches and other staff on how best to run and manage the game."
Kenya’s squad will be coached by former Leeds and Dewsbury winger Eddie Rombo and although the MEA Championship is now a pathway to Rugby League World Cup 2025 qualification, Kenya – whilst still an observer member - is not eligible to proceed, but intends to submit an affiliate membership application within the next 12 months.
MEA regional director, Remond Safi, said: “It’s great to have Kenya stepping up to participate at short notice after Morocco’s governance issues coming out of the pandemic. Kenya’s involvement will increase awareness and player pathways in local activity, and will aid the KRLF objectives to fulfil its affiliate membership application once their first international fixtures are completed.”