Flying high in the desert

Tuesday, August 17th, 2021 00:00 |
Victor Simiyu Wangwe practises flying high jump at least thrice per day. He can jump up to nine feet. Photo/PD/Kwach Wakhisi

Two years ago, one man made a decision to leave his native home in Bungoma county and cover hundreds of kilometres to Isiolo county in search of employment.

After having languished at home with no stable means of income, he was ready to travel all the way to ensure he was able to have a decent life for himself and fend for his children.

Despite the scorching sun that characterises the semi-arid cosmopolitan town of Isiolo, Victor Simiyu Wangwe believed that perhaps what he needed was a change of environment to make his life better.

And while in Isiolo, Wangwe invented flying high jump game. In the normal high jump game, the competitors jump unaided over a horizontal bar placed at any measured heights.

The athlete takes a running jump to attain height. In flying high jump, the competitor jumps with the support of a rigid structure.

Today, Wangwe has won accolades for introducing a sporting game that has helped transform the lives of  youth in Kiwanjani area of Isiolo county by keeping them busy, hence they do not have time to engage in vices such as alcohol and drug abuse.

“When I came to Isiolo, I would carry out menial jobs at different construction sites and at the end of the day, I would be paid a money depending on the tasks I had done.

It’s something I still do as I hope to get better opportunities in future,” says Wangwe.

According to the father of four, on several occasions, he always thought of starting a game that would transform his life. 

“The flying high jump is something I dreamt about. After those dreams, I started researching on how I would actualise it and implement the game in the area - especially the plan and measurements of the game. In December 2019, I officially developed the game,” Wangwe says.

Attracting youths

Wangwe started off with two youths who had dropped out of school. He opines: “The impact of the game was to improve the physical fitness of an individual, hence improve their overall wellbeing.

Victor Simiyu Wangwe trains people between ages 18 and 50 to in flying high jump. Photo/PD/Kwach wakhisi

I would practise it at least thrice per day and started by jumping  six feet, then seven feet and now I can do nine feet.”

Teso Dida, a resident of Kiwanjani, is among the youths trained by Wangwe on flying high jump.

According to him, the game has really helped to tame vices amongst the youth in the area.

The chief in consultation with Wabera Ward Development Committee members gave Wangwe the go-ahead to start sporting activity at the chief’s office compound, which is a community public ground.

Whenever he was at the field practising, he would attract a number of passers-by who were eager to find out what he was doing.

“Many of them were youths and I would politely respond to their questions about the game and how it is played.

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck and schools closed, many of them would visit me at the field to see how the game is played. Some wanted to give it a try and I was ready to teach them,” he says.

According to Wangwe, the youth assured him that they would stop taking bhang or involve themselves in any form of drug abuse because playing requires one to have a clean medical report in line with sports rules.

Sky is the limit

 He targets people between the ages of 18  and 50 years. 

“When I train them, they do as I instruct and those who are keen and sharp learn the skills within a short time,” he says.

Every day after his work errands, he has to spare about 30 minutes or one hour in the evening to practice.

He has also come up with rules and regulations governing the game, which he says many of his players have adhered to. One must be physically fit to participate.

The main purpose or objectives of the game, he says, is to empower the youth, improve physical fitness and to nurture talents among them.

Wangwe says the biggest challenge he now faces is lack of finances to grow his sporting activity. He hopes he can get sponsorship to uplift the standards of the game.

“We lack equipment such as a first aid kit and sports attire, which should be used during trainings; this is a big hurdle for us,” he says.

He hopes to spearhead the game and come up with a team of flying high jump so that it can be incorporated into athletics as a sporting activity and get opportunities to play even outside the country.

Abdi Hassan, area manager Kiwanjani, says flying high jump is an interesting game, and has potential to not only keep the youth busy and stay fit, but if developed in the whole country, it could give them more oppoortunities. 

For Wangwe, despite the challenges he faces, the sky is the limit and he says that he won’t give up on his dreams to see to it that the game grows to higher levels and its impact is felt among the youths of Isiolo county and beyond.

More on Lifestyle