Zack Aura , 39

Hockey Player

Z ack was once described by Kenya’s hockey legend, Inderjit Matharu, as “the most complete player of his generation”. Although he never made it to play at the Olympics, Zack ‘Maestro’ Aura is one of the most talented hockey players in Kenya today.

He earned the moniker ‘Maestro’ from his mastery of ‘3D Skill’ in hockey at the City Park Hockey Stadium at a time when his national teammates had been struggling with it.

The burly midfielder first captained Kenya ‘B’ team in 2005 and was promoted to the senior team a year later.

Zack’s eye for goal, his athleticism and trickery with a hockey ball often leave opponents confounded and fans in awe.

The former Kenyan international, who called time on his chequered international career in 2015, is a leader on and off the pitch. Growing up in Nakuru, he started playing hockey at Nakuru Athletics Club at the age of 12.

He attributes his success to discipline which he learnt at an early age then perfected during his career in the Kenya Defence Forces where he served as a Kenya Navy officer.

“Discipline is everything. You can’t achieve anything without self-discipline as a sportsman,” he says. “You also need passion and eagerness to learn to succeed.”

Two things stand out for him in life – his rise from the dusty fields of Nakuru Athletics Club to playing professional hockey in Italy, and the day he helped bring Kenya came closer to qualifying for the 2016 Olympics, which the team missed by a whisker.

Locally, he has played for Kisumu Simba (2015), Armed Forces, Nakuru Athletics Club, and Menengai High School.

In 2007, he left Kenya to pursue a professional career in Italy.

“I came back in 2012 to join Nairobi Simba then I moved to the newly-formed Kenya Navy before re-joining Kisumu Simba.”

The father of two boys is still attached to Butali Sugar Warriors as part of the coaching team. In his free time, he coaches young people to play the game well.

–James Mwamba