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Doreen Nabwire, first Kenyan woman to play football in Europe

Doreen Nabwire
  • Doreen Nabwire is the first Kenyan woman to play football in Europe. 
  • She played in Europe for Werder Bremen, PEC Zwolle and FC Koln. 
  • Her career ended after suffering an injury in Europe

Football is one of the sports which have been dominated by men. Majority of football fans mainly focus on men’s football matches. However, it is good to note that women have also been doing so well in football.

Kenya has produced several footballers who have gone to play football in Europe. Many football fans know the first Kenyan man to play football in Europe. However, they do not know the first Kenyan woman to play football in Europe.

Doreen Nabwire

Doreen Nabwire, first Kenyan woman to play football in Europe. Photo/ African Vibes

Doreen Nabwire is the first Kenyan woman to play football in Europe. She is a former footballer who served as the captain of the Kenya women’s national football team. Doreen played as a midfielder during her days as a footballer.

She was born March 5, 1987 as the third born in a family of six. Doreen was born in Ngomongo estate in Korogocho.. She comes from a footballing family. Eric Johana Omondi who is currently playing for Jonkopings Sodra is one of Doreen’s brothers. He previously played for Mathare in the Kenyan Premier League.

Felix Oucho is also one of Doreen’s brothers. Oucho played for Mathare FC and is currently coaching a local club in Busia County. Antony Kadudu who previously played for Tusker FC is also one of her brothers. Doreen’s younger sister, Christine Nafula plays for the Kenya women’s national team.

Doreen attended Valley Bridge Primary School in Huruma where she began playing football. Her talent was noticed by players who informed her about Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA). MYSA was a project run by Nobel Peace Prize.

The aim of the project was to empower young people through football. Doreen wanted to join Mathare United women’s team but was stopped by her mother who felt that women were not meant to play football as a career. Fortunately her father later intervened and she joined North Villas FC.

MYSA was being supported by the largest youth football tournament in the world, Norway Cup. The tournament attracted more than 1,000 teams all over the world. Doreen impressed at North Villas FC and she was invited to do trials for the MYSA team in 1998.

Doreen passed the trials and was part of the MYSA team in three consecutive tournaments as a teenager. Her first tournament was in 1999 with the under 14 team. She first won the tournament in 2000 and later 2001 as the team’s captain.

Doreen was then promoted to Mathare Women’s team in 2002. She was rated as one of the best female midfielders in the Kenyan Premier League during her time at Mathare. The midfield maestro became Kenya’s first woman to play professional football in Europe when she joined Werder Bremen in 2010.

Werder Bremen is a German team playing in the women’s Bundesliga. Doreen played at the club for one season making 18 appearances and scoring seven goals. She then joined PEC Zwolle Vrouwen FC in Netherlands the following season. PEC Zwolle had just been founded the previous season.

Doreen just spent one season at PEC Zwolle.  She made 16 appearances for the club and managed to score just one goal. She was voted as the second best player of PEC Zwolle by the fans that season. However, Doreen Nabwire returned to Kenya in July 2011.

She returned with UEFA C coaching license which she studied for while playing for PEC Zwolle. Doreen then joined MOYAS FC as a player coach for the 2011-12 season. She helped the club win the Kenya Super 8 League in his first season.

Doreen then joined Matuu FC the next season and helped the team win the 2012 Kenya Women’s Premier League. She returned to Europe in November 2013 and signed for FC Koln. She made her first appearance for the German club one month later in a game which they lost 2-1.

Doreen suffered a ruptured achilles tendon in February 2014. The injury ended her professional football career as she returned to Kenya a few weeks later. Doreen continued with her involvement in football after returning to Kenya.

She worked with NGOs aiming at improving women’s football in Kenya. She has been the team manager of Harambee Starlets since 2016. Doreen has also been working as the Director of Women’s Football and Women’s Football Development Officer since 2016. She is also Football Kenya Federation (FKF)’s Deputy Competitions Manager.

Doreen Nabwire

Doreen Nabwire. Photo/ People Daily

Abraham Odhiambo is an avid sports fan who loves to write about football, boxing and wrestling. He's a big supporter of Manchester United. He's pursuing a bachelor's degree in Communication and Media at Egerton University.

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