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Meet Rajinder Pape Singh - Candidate for KRU Chairmanship

Photo Caption : Pape (Left) plays host to KRU Chairman, Richard Omwela at past Kakamega 10s hosted by Western Bulls | Courtesy Western Bulls

We caught up with Rajinder Pape Singh who is vying for the Kenya Rugby Union Chairman post. He shared some of his achievements as a Director and what he will bring on board if elected as the KRU Chairman.

Give us your brief History

  • My father moved to Kakamega after being born in Kericho in 1934.
  • My Father Harbajan Singh Sembi, was a keen sportsman, who supported Hockey, Volleyball and Motor Rallying.
  • I was born in Kakamega in 1961.
  • I began to play rugby when I was 12 years old in the UK.
  • I represented my school teams at under 13 to  under 18 levels
  • I played club rugby in the UK at the “Old Surbitionans RFC” in Surrey
  • I then played in the 1st XV of my university team, Lancaster University, where we reached the semifinals of the UK Universities competition in 1983

When did you get involved with Kenyan Rugby? What teams did you play for?

  • On my return to Kenya in 1984, we established a team in Western Kenya called Kitasumu, made of players from Kisumu and right up to Kitale.
  • 1n 1985, I played a few games for Kenya Harlequins with the likes of Richard Njoba.
  • I was also selected to in the team to play Zimbabwe in that year and I also was invited to become a Scorpion(Select side).
  • Then due to family matters concentrated on our family business and was brought back to the rugby world by Mwangi Muthee, who I played with when we played for Kitasumu , in 2011.
  • It was in 2011 that the Western Bulls were formed.

What contribution have you made to the sport since?

  • Since 2011, I have been actively involved with rugby, as I was appointed to be the Chairman of the Buffalos franchise of the Bamburi super series. Then as that was when the Western Bulls were formed, we worked hard to form structures that would lead to good governance of the club and players. I remember initially we used the Kakamega Approved school pitch and we had 5 fans three of whom were club officials. But we first competed in the Eric Shirley Shield as a 2nd Team for Kisumu RFC, and finished second on the table behind Kenya Harlequins, and as they already had a team in Kenya Cup, we took advantage of the increased number of teams in that competition, and were promoted on merit. We have never looked back since and have always given every team a quality game. We then established a gym, in fact it was established in my compound and I had a multi gym that I used to use; and we added some other free weights and manufactured some squat racks and other equipment. We then approached Kakamega High School and established a full international size pitch. We identified players like Davis Chenge, Bush Mwale, and Elkins Musoyne who have represented our country in the various national teams.

Other than rugby, What else you do for a living?

Apart from Rugby, I am a businessman and have worked in the motor trade, have been a saw miller and a Building Contractor. In Towns like Kakamega you really have to be a jack of all trades!!

I am a very active member of Lions Clubs International, and have served the Multiple District as the council Chairman which consist of 5 countries, Kenya, Ethiopia, Seychelles, Uganda and Tanzania. I am also in charge of all the training on the African Continent.

I am a member of the board of Sabatia Eye Hospital and Chair the Board Finance committee. I am also a committee member of the Kisumu Sikh Union and the club steward at the Equator Motor Club which hosts national rallies.

What are you planning to bring on board if you get elected?

The Game has really grown leaps and bounds, and we really need to step up our administration of the game. We need to break down what the KRU board does into segments so that we credibly control and administer the game to foster growth at all levels. The clubs that supply the players must feel that they are recognized, and we must encourage them to build depth with other upcoming players. To achieve this, we must continue to fully support our National teams, but we must have structures in place to assist clubs; Development workshops must be held all over the country, we must establish an up to date database of all our IRB qualified trainers and have a clear pathway on how to get them to the next level. We too must encourage and facilitate the many noted upcoming player coaches to pursue their passion to the highest level. As a Chairman, I believe it is vital that we maintain a direct link with the affiliated clubs, help support them accordingly with tools (e.g. rugby balls, cones etc) in the course of the year (not just election period); discuss and find a sustainable solution to transportation, insurance and accommodation costs because together we can. I would institute that each club is visited, or a group of clubs, where the clubs will host a meeting with the chairman of KRU and representative from the secretariat, so that they may directly inform him of the clubs achievements, aspirations and challenges. Of course the Chairman will also come fully equipped to brief on the progress of KRU & commitments made.

Why are you vying for the chairman post?

“Once a Rugby player, always a rugby player” it runs in the blood. I feel that I have the required leadership skills to lead the elected members of the board – hopefully my track record can attest to this, and I know that with proper planning we can ensure that our supporters, sponsors and our affiliates will all reap form the benefits of better governance. A proven hand, a strong record of achievement inspite of sometimes undesirable conditions, new face – with prior experience will bring in fresher but practical ideas in the way things. Rugby is not just going to grow by itself, leaders must debate, be allowed to question without being victimized, be availed opportunities cross the board & receive support in garnering their own sponsorship. I have a lot of experience as a person who started a Rugby Club that plays in the Kenya Cup & more so having Chaired the club. In this club I established structures and hence was able to transit the leadership to another. I feel that I can do the same at KRU, and having served on the board, I am confident that I will be able to lead discussion on matters pertinent to good governance and make decisions that will grow the game and attract sponsors.

 What did you achieve when you were the KRU Director - Treasurer and Development.?

When I was in charge of the development docket and with the support of a very able committee, we achieved quite a lot as we went through a process to reduce the number of development officers so we could spend the money at grass root level and we established in which area of the country they would be responsible. True to my nature of transparency and inclusion, I invited for the first time ever, the Club Chairmen for a meeting to seek their input on the development agenda as well as brief on allocated World Rugby grant funds. We established rules and regulations and a reporting format to account for the Development funds that we received from IRB. We also held development tournaments for Under 18’s and for the women’s game. We ensured that the Get into Rugby program was rolled out and recruited a Director of Rugby to manage all these activities.

With regards to my term as a Treasurer, this was necessitated, as the then treasurer resigned, and our constitution states that we must have a treasurer. But you may be aware that the union has since employed a Financial officer, who does the day to day work, and my responsibly was to develop applicable policies and monitor adherence to the same. This I certainly did, and ensured that when expenditures were made that the proper documentation was attached. As good governance dictates, we must have quotations for purchases and in the case of rugby activities to be undertaken a plan and submitted budget, so that the user is accountable for the funds.

 

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