Chewoyet: Where academics are intertwined with athletics

Coach Boniface Tiren guides an athlete in Chewoyet High School. Picuture by Levi Wekoye
Coach Boniface Tiren guides an athlete in Chewoyet High School. Picuture by Levi Wekoye

Four kilometers from Makutano town the Arid and Semi- Arid West Pokot County along the Kapenguria-Lowdar Highway are colonial days buildings on a mountain top housing Chemoyet High School famed for its sterling academic performance since its establishment in 1953.

As one negotiates the hills and valleys hills and valleys that lead to this boy’s national school, visitors are ushered in by the hawk-eyed woman guard Pricillah Michael after a brief question and answer session.

After producing old students such as the late Vice President Michael Wamalwa, General Daudi Tonje and late Provincial Commissioner Ishmael Chelang’a, one would probably think of seeing magnificent storey buildings that are valued by most national secondary schools.

But alas things here are simple: If one thought that he/she was going to visit the institution to be welcomed by the silence of students in classroom, the visitor could be attracted by a score of other students at the far end of the school compound cheering athletes on training sessions.

Standing akimbo along the field marks will be the school athletics coach and head of sports department, Edward Moti who from time to time will be shouting at the top of his voice and making gestures to the runners.

Mr. Moti, 42, and with a 15-year span of teaching mathematics and physics says he developed interest in athletics from Kenya’s former top athletics Moses Kiptanui and has since identified talented boys whom he has passed over to local and international sponsors.

For example on  April 2, 2017 when a Kenyan Sheila Chepkoech was competing for the Milan Marathon before she won the race ,he had assembled his boys to watch the race on TV insisting on preparation for training and being keen on programmes.

Currently, coach Moti has identified seven junior runners who train locally in West Pokot and Iten in Keiyo Sub-County under the stewardship of Colm Cohell.

It will be recalled Cohell is the same man who has been handling Kenya’s top athlete David Rudisha who also trains in Iten.

Mr. Moti has also linked up with some of Kenya’s athletics senior coaches Ian Kiprono and Boniface Tiren with the latter having a stint at last year’s Reo De Jenairo Olympics.

According to coach Moti now pursuing professional coaching, it has been a big challenge to nature both the academic and athletics talents at the same time for the students.

He says it had become almost difficult to maintain students form poor families as they search to build up their extra-curriculum talents at the expense of their studies. But the school has had to strive to balance the two categories.

This way, he says, the school Principal Simon Kodomuk assisted by two deputies Simon Mutambo and Benson Arteluk come in handy by organizing how the fees could be settled for the needy students.

He said Coach Cohell had been of great help by sponsoring some students. He appealed for more sponsors to come on board.

To show how serious they are, Chewoyet School scooped most of the titles during the World Youths Rift Valley championships held on March 2017 in Kitale with 800m being scooped by Hilary Kiprop.

And during the West Pokot Sub-County cross country championship Asbel Kiprop (not related to the 15000m world champion) of form IV scooped the 10,00m medal.

The school was also represented in this year’s National Secondary Athletics Championship held between 9th April, 2017 by Robert Kiprop and Michael Kibet.

For Robert Kiprop of Form three racing in 5000m, his next target is the Sub-County World Youth Trials while Hillary Kiprop is eying the 800m category in the national trials.

Bernard Kipsang, a form three student who has never seen his mother, is hoping that the coach secures more sponsors for the less-fortunate. Local Pokot children are in dire need of expanding their academics and talent in sports.

Kipsang who stays with his 73-year old grandmother after his father died in 2011 hinges his budding in athletics to what he described as “perfect practice and group training.”

But Coach Moti says despite involving in athletics and other extra curriculum activities, Chewoyet had gone ahead to excel in academic performance.

For example, the school with a population of nearby, 1400 with 40 teachers, scored a mean grade of 7.1in 2016 in KCSE, 10.05 in 2015 and 9.8 in 2014. In West Pokot County, the school emerges either in the first or second position annually.

What does this portend?

“That we are fairing on well despite challenges here and there. But, am sure the students, parents and parents will give the school more support to overcome the challenges,’’ said coach Moti in an interview at Nasokol Girls’ secondary school during the West Pokot sub-county cross-country championships recently.

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