Athletes gather in Nairobi for national Ismaili Games

Nairobi, 16 December 2015 — Over 290 athletes and some 2,000 spectators will be in Nairobi for the 2015 Kenya Ismaili Games this weekend. Ranging in age from five to 75 years and older, Ismailis from Burundi, Rwanda, South Africa, and Kenya will take part in the four-day national sport event being held between 17 – 20 December.

Nairobi, 16 December 2015 — Over 290 athletes and some 2,000 spectators will be in Nairobi for the 2015 Kenya Ismaili Games this weekend. Ranging in age from five to 75 years and older, Ismailis from Burundi, Rwanda, South Africa, and Kenya will take part in the four-day national sport event being held between 17 – 20 December.

The Kenya Games will serve as a national qualifier for the international Jubilee Games slated for summer 2016 in Dubai.

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Kenya welcomes athletes ahead of the Opening Ceremonies

The wait is over. Thursday marked the unofficial opening of the Ismaili Games Kenya at the Aga Khan Pavilion.

An athlete competing in the Ismaili Games Kenya 2015 receives a warm welcome from a volunteer as he collects his kit. IGK2015
An athlete competing in the Ismaili Games Kenya 2015 receives a warm welcome from a volunteer as he collects his kit.
IGK2015

The wait is over. Thursday marked the unofficial opening of the Ismaili Games Kenya at the Aga Khan Pavilion.

Some 300 athletes are registered from Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and South Africa, of which approximately 200 arrived on Thursday. Others are set to arrive today – including teams from Mombasa and Kisumu.

“We have commenced handing out athletes' kits to all the participants who have arrived, ahead of the opening tomorrow,” says Reshma Aziz Khan, Kenya’s national coordinator for the 2016 Jubilee Games in Dubai.

Donated by sponsors, the kits include two t-shirts, a string bag and a cap. In addition, every participant is granted entry to non-sporting events such as the Kamal Taj concert and Geet Mehfil, Soko Moto and the Gala Dinner Finale, as well as meal coupons for the duration of the entire sporting weekend.

“It will be a good experience,” says Isaac Dass (known as Izu by his peers). The Nairobi participant, who will compete in soccer and tennis, says that athletes have to be ready for anything. “The twist to these games is that you are unaware of your opponents; thus, have to be prepared to play against the very best.”

But Asma Bhanji, an athlete competing in swimming and rounders, says the Games are also about more than just sports.

“The games provide a good platform to bond with the international Jamat,” said the Kisumu-born Bhanji. “While there is some level of competitiveness, the unity of the Games shines through.”

The focus of many spectators may be on those athletes attempting to qualify for the Jubilee Games. But a host of other events — including the U-18 competitions — allow participants to play for the pure enjoyment of sport.

The official opening will take place at on the morning of December 18 at the Aga Khan Sports Club.

— Hussein Jiva

Ismaili Youth Band readies itself for the Kenya Games

Beats of drums reverberate as the Kenyan Ismaili Youth Band stands in a circle. Two days before the Ismaili Games Kenya, the band gathers for one of its final rehearsals ahead of the opening ceremony in which they are to perform.

The Kenyan Ismaili Youth Band rehearsing ahead of the opening of the Ismaili Games Kenya 2015. Hussein Jiva
The Kenyan Ismaili Youth Band rehearsing ahead of the opening of the Ismaili Games Kenya 2015.
Hussein Jiva

Beats of drums reverberate as the Kenyan Ismaili Youth Band stands in a circle. Each instrument produces a scintillating tune.

Two days before the Ismaili Games Kenya, the band gathers for one of its final rehearsals ahead of the opening ceremony in which they are to perform.

“We had a super performance during the Mwanza Unity Games, which brought their Jamat to tears,” says Band Master Karim Hasham, speaking of the East African regional Ismaili Games that took place earlier this year.

Having led the band for four years, Hasham attributes its success to the support given by local and national Ismaili Councils.

Amirali Jeevraj is the elder statesmen of the band at 61. Jeevraj is a long-serving member of the Nairobi and Mombasa Aga Khan bands and he inspires the 23 other musicians — the youngest of whom is six years old.

The Youth Band has been practicing for six months and they have grander hopes of playing at the 2016 Diamond Jubilee Games in July. For now they’ll focus on welcoming the athletes and spectators to Kenya, says Shazin Mawji, the tenor drum player.

“Expectations are to give an extraordinary performance,” she says.

— Maalika Kazia

Ismaili Games Kenya 2015 opens with great splendour

A jubilant excitement was palpable as athletes, officials, volunteers, members and leaders of the Jamat convened at the Aga Khan Sports Club, Nairobi on a sunny Friday morning to officially open the Ismaili Games Kenya 2015.

Ruhina Virjee leads the recitation of the athletes’ oath at the opening of the Ismaili Games Kenya 2015. Ejaz Karmali
Ruhina Virjee leads the recitation of the athletes’ oath at the opening of the Ismaili Games Kenya 2015.
Ejaz Karmali

A jubilant excitement was palpable as athletes, officials, volunteers, members and leaders of the Jamat convened at the Aga Khan Sports Club, Nairobi on a sunny Friday morning to officially open the Ismaili Games Kenya 2015.

“To laugh, to smile, to be happy. To push ourselves to perform. To cheer each other along and to have tremendous fun” is the spirit of the Ismaili Games Kenya, declared Ismaili Council for Kenya President Nawaz Gulam.

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Dance competition enthrals as Soko Moto stirs up some fun

As music filled the air, Jamati members congregated around bonfires for warmth at Soko Moto — a mela-like concept that involved stalls such as bingo, darts, raffles as well as a senior's antakshri program, along with other activities such as bubble soccer and bouncing castles.

Karishma Kassam performing during the Soko Moto dance competitition at Ismaili Games Kenya. Hussein Jiva
Karishma Kassam performing during the Soko Moto dance competitition at Ismaili Games Kenya.
Hussein Jiva

As music filled the air, Jamati members congregated around bonfires for warmth at Soko Moto — a mela-like concept that involved stalls such as bingo, darts, raffles as well as a senior's antakshri program, along with other activities such as bubble soccer and bouncing castles.

Taking place at the Aga Khan Sports Club, one of the highlights of Soko Moto was the Ismaili Games’ dance competition.

“I wasn't expecting qualification,” said Karishma Kassam, who won the Saturday competition.

The judges' criteria included creativity, choreography, formation and transitions, dancing skill, technique and overall performance, as well as the professionalism on stage. Kassam scooped up first place, with the entertaining 'Afghani Shahla' Duo of Zohya Naik and Sumayya Kermali finishing second and the foursome known as 'You Already Know Who It Is' with Raisah and Qaisra Virani, Insha Jessani and Inaara Amlani finishing third.

Karim Pirbhai, one of the event’s organizers, spoke about Soko Moto’s impact.

“Such events are very important because they bring together the whole community and build the spirit of fun, friendship, brotherhood and unity,” he said.

— Hussein Jiva