As the saying goes, “when one door closes another opens”. This phrase can be used to best describe the creation of Wazalendo Hockey Club today. Kenya Breweries Hockey team was originally made up of employees of the company, Kenya Breweries Limited; a renowned brewery in East Africa (now called East African Breweries). The club’s budget was financed wholly by the company. Gradually the composition of players changed with a majority of the players being non employees of the company. A trend that led KBL to officially withdraw its corporate sponsorship from teams that were not serving its corporate interests. The sponsorship ceased end of 1995. The hockey team (Breweries) was one of its casualties.
Majority of the players left Breweries Hockey Club en masse and formed the current Parkroad Hockey Club while others joined Barclays Hockey Club (which was later disbanded). The remaining players (the late Tobias Oduor & Eric Otieno, Julius Odera, Edwin Were, Ian Taifa, Ndambuki “Koji”) continued to play as ‘Breweries’ though the team had no association with the company. Lacking the numbers to make a complete team, the team relied on Jamhuri High School students to fill the positions. This exercise was to later become the backbone of the club’s success. Wazalendo’s nursery of players emanate from schools such as Alliance, Kamusinga, Nairobi School and Lenana to name but a few. Annually, the club would visit these schools and later universities, to motivate and share its hockey experience with the young and talented players.
Wazalendo owes its existence primarily to Edwin Were and Julius Odera. They were determined to maintain the team at all costs. They set about recruiting upcoming and talented players who shared their vision. In Edwin’s own words, “What is going to happen to this talent if these boys stop playing hockey at such a young age? Can’t we find a way of keeping them on the pitch? Even if it means paying from our own pocket!” It was then that the senior players volunteered and through the spirit of harambee took the collective responsibility of managing and supporting the team.
The players continued to play hockey under the name of Kenya Breweries Hockey Club and this presented a problem. First, the team had no link whatsoever with the company. Secondly, the team’s success was being falsely associated with KBL and thirdly, it was impossible to seek external support for the club. It was then that the senior players decided to seek an autonomous identity. The proposal was put forward to the players to come up with a club name that would give the team its own identity and at the same time portray the ideals of the team. More than twenty names were proposed. After a long and exhaustive deliberation among the players, the name Wazalendo (meaning patriots) was voted the best and adopted. Jeremy Kamau (then a student of Kiambu High School and prolific striker in the team) was the brainchild of the name. Consequently the club’s name was changed from Breweries Hockey Club to Wazalendo Hockey Club and registered with the Registrar of Socities in October 1998.