Evelyne Kalemera: Pioneering a New Era for Kenya Harlequins Women’s Rugby

In the lively tapestry of Kenyan rugby, a remarkable figure emerges, transcending the traditional norms of the sport. Evelyne Kalemera, a former Kenya International player with an illustrious career, now stands at the helm as the Women’s Rugby Coach for Kenya Harlequins, symbolizing a fresh chapter for the club and embodying its core values of Sure, Strong, and Superior.

Kalemera’s rugby journey began at the age of 31, a late bloomer by typical standards. Introduced to the game by her brother, what began as a mere distraction from unemployment evolved into a deep passion. “Rugby is addictive,” she says, “once you start, it’s hard to stop.” Her journey as a player unfolded with remarkable consistency, proudly representing the Kenya Lionesses XVs team since the reinstatement in 2019.

Transitioning from player to coach wasn’t just a career move for Kalemera; it was a visualization turned into an instant realization. “It was a matter of giving back to a game that gave me numerous opportunities to represent my country on international platforms,” she reflects. Moreover, she sought to challenge the male dominance prevalent in rugby coaching, bringing balance to the sport.

Having played diverse positions and contributing significantly to Mwamba Rugby Club’s success, Kalemera’s coaching style is rooted in self-belief, responsibility, and the creation of a cohesive team. She envisions “the best team” that allows players to express themselves while maintaining a focused pursuit of victory.

Reflecting on her playing days, Kalemera reminisces about memorable victories in the Elgon Cup and Kenya Cup, each marking a significant milestone in her career. The 2019 Elgon Cup victory, where she played as a debutant, set the stage for her confidence, while the 2023 Elgon Cup marked the glorious end of her playing days with a historic scoreline of 87-3.

As a former Kenya International player proficient in scrummaging, lineouts, tackling, and ball carrying, Kalemera plans to impart her skills to the Kenya Harlequins players through regular training, individual technique sessions, and game analysis. Her goal is to develop well-rounded athletes who not only excel on the field but also embody the values of the sport off the pitch.

Beyond her role with Kenya Harlequins, Kalemera actively engages with the community rugby scene as a volunteer age-grade coach. She sees community engagement as the backbone of nurturing future talents, bringing people from diverse backgrounds together and fostering inclusivity and teamwork.

Kalemera’s global experience, garnered from various international events, is poised to inspire and guide the Kenya Harlequins players on the international stage. Her vision extends beyond the playing field; she aspires to instill rugby’s core values of integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline, and respect in the team’s playing style and overall culture.

With a coaching philosophy centered on celebrating milestones, hard work, and consistency, Kalemera sets out to elevate the performance of the Kenya Harlequins Women’s Rugby team in the Kenya Cup. Her World Rugby 15s Level One Coaching certificate and diverse accreditations contribute to informed decision-making, with a keen focus on promoting the ‘KEEP RUGBY CLEAN’ initiative.

In addressing the challenges and seizing the opportunities for women’s rugby in Kenya, Kalemera advocates for education and empowerment. She encourages players to pursue out-of-rugby ventures, be vocal, and leverage the myriad opportunities available. As she leads the Kenya Harlequins Women’s Rugby team into a new era, Evelyne Kalemera embodies the core values of Sure, Strong, and Superior, ensuring a legacy that transcends the boundaries of the game.

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