KAMPALA. Being part of the World Cup is the pinnacle of any sportsman’s career and it’s no different for Byron Oketayot who has spent barely three years in the outskirts of Kampala but will be playing at the Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco, USA this weekend.
“I could have never seen myself here five years back, playing at the World Cup? No way but am now here. I just kept doing the right thing and am now ready to sieze the opportunity,” he told Daily Monitor on learning he was part of the team.
Oketayot first burst onto the scene in 2014 when he was part of the Baby Rugby Cranes (Under-19) that beat Madagascar 17-8 to earn 1A promotion.
He would later make his own name in the red colours of Gulu Elephants in the 2015/2016 premiership campaign. The Elephants did not survive the cruel axe of relegation that campaign but Otekayot had caught the eye of many clubs.
“Guess which club I will be playing at next season,” Otekayot posted on his Facebook account, evidence that a host of clubs were vying for his services. The biggest of offers was always going to lure him and Shell Rimula Rhinos with their money bags, snapped him.
The same year saw him debut for the Rugby Cranes in a home Elgon Cup tie against Kenya at Legends Rugby Club. The 22-year old was carried off with a leg injury midway through the 10-48 loss but he had left a mark on the game with a try.
His rise continued as Rugby Sevens Cranes coach Tolbert Onyango gave him a nod for the sevens side. He travelled to Dubai and Cape Town for the World Series legs and managed a try. Last year saw him become an African champion at home as Uganda beat Zimbabwe 10-7 in the final.
His captain Michael Wokorach describes Otekayot as humble, easy to work with and always willing to learn. “He improves every day because of his discipline. He will achieve a lot in future if he remains grounded,” said Wokorach.
The local rugby system might have plenty of loopholes but Otekayot’s story gives hope to all those kids upcountry chasing a similar dream, it’s no surprise he is a hero back home.
Name: Byron Otekayot Morgan
Position: Prop (7s) , Second row (15s)
Clubs: Gulu Elephants, Shell Rimula Rhinos
Accolades: African Champion