When she lands in Egypt and struts her feet across the tarmac at the Cairo International Airport, Jentrix Shikangwa, 19, will have her eyes pegged on one prize, showing the world what her, and her team, Vihiga Queens can do at the Continental Stage.
Cool as ice, Shikangwa slotted an 89th minute penalty as Vihiga Queens booked a slot to represent the CECAFA region in the first ever edition of the TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Champions League, with a 2-1 victory over the highly fancied Central Bank of Ethiopia in the qualifiers held in Nairobi.
“We were playing at home and we wouldn’t have allowed the trophy and the ticket to go anywhere else. We lost to CBE in the first game because we had panicked at what we heard about them, but as soon as we regrouped and re-strategized, we had everything in the tank to beat them,” Shikangwa recalls.
The striker was not scoring a vital goal for the first time. For the national team, Shikangwa’s extra time penalty against Ghana sent the Harambee Starlets to the penultimate qualification round for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2019.
She has been a star on the rise who has been playing for the national team since she was 16.
“For me football is in the blood. I think it is something I was born with. My eldest sister (Jackline Ashiza) played for the national team and my elder brother (Derrick) Anami also plays professional football for Zoo Kericho FC. I think I naturally picked it up from them,” Shikangwa says.
She jokes; “Even my dad tells me he played football when he was a youth though he has never said where he played or even shows trophies he won. But let me just believe him. The way he explains it you can’t even doubt.”
Born 19 years in Vihiga County, Western Kenya, Shikangwa started football when she was in Primary School. But it was not until she joined Wiyeta High School, famed for producing some fine football talent and ruling national school games, that her talent really shone.
In her second year of High School, she helped Wiyeta to the final of the national school games and that same year, she was called up to the national Under-20 team. A year later, she was spotted by Vihiga Queens, then playing in the Kenyan Women’s Premier League.
She would play league football when on school holidays and she ended up winning the league title in four successive years.
“It was a great challenge for me. Though I was only playing during the school holidays, I believe it really helped nurture me to the person I am today. Playing at such a level and getting exposed to competitive matches early builds one’s confidence and it is the reason I am where I am today,” explains Shikangwa.
Her trajectory has been impressive and the qualification to the Champions League in Egypt is just another feather on her already decorated hat. But for Shikangwa, she says she has only but just started.