Corazon Aquino, the teenage steel in Starlets armour
When Harambee Starlets open their CAF African Women Cup of Nations (Awcon) campaign on Sunday against Ghana, the team will be banking on the steel provided by utility Vivian Corazon Aquino.
Often, she has come off the bench to plug the holes in David Ouma’s team to good effect, seamlessly slotting in attack of midfield for Starlets.
Named after the no nonsense 11th president of Philippines Corazon Aquino, Ouma included the player in his final travelling party for her tenacity, comparable to the grit associated with the first Filipino woman to hold the office and first female president in Asia.
Politics has never been far from Aquino with her mother- Celestine Ongere- a nominated Member of County Assembly for Kaloleni Ward while the steel perhaps comes from her father Dominic Rudha who is an engineer by profession.
Aquino was born on October 2, 1998 in Makongeni, Nairobi and studied at Joseph Apudo Primary School for her formative education before advancing to Makongeni Secondary and later Olympics High School for her O Levels, clearing in 2013.
Citizen Digital caught up with the 18 year-old who is hoping to fire Starlets past the tough Pool B of their Awcon debut where they will play champions Nigeria and Mali after their Ghana opener on Sunday to outline her football journey.
Citizen Digital (CD): Corazon, when were you bitten by the football bug?
Corazon Aquino (CA): I started playing in 2007 when I was in standard four because my mother forced me since she was one a footballer too.
CD: Kindly share your notable achievements so far?
CA: I have won several trophies including two for the best player in primary school when I was in standard five and six.
I have also be a top scorer in high school last year at Governor Evans Kidero Cup where I netted 16 before top scoring again at the Airtel Rising Stars with 21.
CD: Tell us about your club football career?
CA: I first joined Masa babes in 2007 that is now known as President Kimbrow in Makongeni. I joined them because it was my home team and my friend was playing for them too and their coach Elvis Wafula invited me to feature for them.
In 2014, I was made captain for their Under 17 squad by coach Florence Odhiambo and I later joined Soccer Queens last year and played with them in the Women’s Premier League.
I joined Queens when their coach Joseph Orao Amos spotted me playing at Olympic High and was impressed with my skills. He asked me if I would like to feature in the FKF women Premier League and I said yes.
CD: Tell us your most memorable moment as a footballer?
CA: The day we eliminated Algeria last year and secured a chance to play in Awcon besides being named the Best Player at the Street Soccer tournament in Huruma in 2007.
CD: And your most forgettable?
CA: Losing 2-1 to Tanzania in the Cecafa Women Challenge tournament in Uganda.
CD: What prejudices do you face as a female footballer?
CA: There is undue pressure from men demanding sexual favours, particularly fans that cannot see beyond your being. I’ve not encountered such from coaches but I would advise aspiring girl footballers to remain firm and focused.
And it’s good to respect your body always.
CD: Your future plans on and off the pitch?
CA: I’m yet to join university and I’m aspiring to do that to sturdy languages that are my favourite subject. For example here in Cameroon, almost everyone is speaking French and I would love to respond to them in their favourite language.
Besides that, I want to progress in football to the furthest I can.
CD: Who is is your role model in football?
MA: Florence Adhiambo and former captain and Starlets Team Manager, Doreen Nabwire who have played a key role in inspiring me in the game.
CD: What is your favourite food?
CA: I love chicken served with rice.
CD: And the dish you hate most?
CA: Cabbage with Ugali.
CD: Tell us your favourite dress code?
CA: I prefer trousers and shorts but I also do skirts and dresses.
CD: Where do you fellowship?
CA: I’m a Christian and a member of the ACK St. Stephen Church along Nairobi’s Jogoo Road.
CD: During your free time, what do you to unwind?
CA: I watch movies, swimming and dancing