Vihiga Queens: Heroines Redefining Women Football

When Vihiga Queens was established in 2014, they only had a dream to ignite the embers of women football in Kenya. Seven years later, the outfit has dominated the first tier women league like a colossus – they have won the Kenya Women Premier League three times back-to-back.

The team  is based in Vihiga town of Vihiga county and is slowly entering into the history books after they won the CAF Women’s Champions League CECAFA qualifies by beating CBE of Ethiopia 2-1 in a final played on 9th September, 2021.

Dressed in their favourite yellow kits, the match played in Nairobi was a sweet revenge on their opponents who had beaten them 4-2 in the preliminary stages of the tournament. To even add icing on the cake, the Queens scored a late minute penalty through Gentrix Shikangwa who perfectly struck from the spot as the stadium buzzed into a celebratory mood.

Under CEO Michael Senelwa, the club has remained unbridled in front of their opponents despite facing a number of hiccups; the biggest being financial constraints as corporates seem to contemplate the idea of sponsoring women’s teams with a pinch of salt. However, the Vihiga County Government has been funding the side albeit not sufficiently.

The departure of their first coach, Alex Alumira who had been in charge since Vihiga Queens was sowed seemed a big setback. Alumira left in August, 2021 barely a week before the CECAFA championships kicked off. He cited ‘weighty personal issues’ even as he indicated to permanently give local managerial roles a wide berth.

Under new coach Charles Okere, the side has been buoyed by great cohesion given a big number of the players also feature for the national football side, the Harambee Starlets.

Majority of the players are in the national team set up. So it has been easy for me. There is mutual understanding between them and me,” Okere told Citizen TV.

He also attributed the Queens meteoric rise to an intensive scouting activity.

Scouting is a continuous process throughout the season, so we visit schools, academies and leagues. That is where we get the best players,” Okere added.

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Notable Players

Jentrix Shikangwa:- The youngster plays in forward position and bagged the most valuable player award for the CECAFA championships. She was brought up in Sigalagala, Kakamega county and was outstanding in primary schools’ football competition which saw her reach the national level twice.

Gentrix Shikangwa in a past interview with Radio Jambo. [Photo|Facebook]
She then joined football giants Wiyeta Girls’ even as she featured for Harambee Starlets and Vihiga Queens while still studying.

Teresa ‘Terry’ Engesha – She is one of the most experienced players in the team and was brought up by a single mother. All her 3 siblings are footballers.

Teresa Engesha [Photo|Courtesy]
Engesha can comfortably play as an attacking midfielder or as a forward. She schooled at Tartar Girls and has previously had a six month stint with a lower tier side in Sweden.

Violet WanyonyiBeing a skilled at dribbling, the forward is known to give opponents a hard time on the pitch. Her partnership with Shikangwa has proved fruitful. Wanyonyi’s talent was discovered during a local tournament organized by a Kakamega politician, Fernandes Barasa.

Violet Wanyonyi has been phenomenal in Vihiga Queens’ attack [Photo|Courtesy]
Wanyonyi schooled at Archbishop Njenga Girls in Kakamega. During the finals of the CAF CECAFA qualifiers, she was fouled in the opponent’s box thereby earning Vihiga Queens a last minute winner through a penalty.

Lilian Awuor Onyango – The goalkeeper has been a ‘safe pair of hands’ and was awarded the woman of the match when the team lost 1-0 to Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa.

Lilian Onyango [Photo|Courtesy]