In our third interview celebrating International Women's Day, we catch up Kenyan hockey legend Jacqueline (Jackie) Mwangi. Now Head Coach to the national women's team, Mwangi enjoyed a long career with the national team as an athlete and continues to inspire girls and young women through both her hockey career and as an inspirational sports teacher.
From a young age, Jaqueline Mwangi’s mother impressed upon her daughter that “there are no short cuts in life, you have to work hard for every single thing.” Her mother’s recipe for success in life is something that Mwangi has followed to the letter.
Jackie Mwangi represented the Kenyan national hockey team until 2015, and she still continues to torment opposition defences with her innate goal-scoring ability for top Kenyan club Blazers.
The sports teacher is also one of the athletes on the FIH Athletes Committee and chairs the African Hockey Federation Athletes Committee. In December 2020, Mwangi was selected by the Kenyan Hockey Union to become Head Coach to the national women’s team, leading an all-female coaching staff.
Talking about the women who have been behind her journey through hockey, Mwangi says: “My family, my friends and my team mates - including the three musketeers, who know who they are – it’s been a good journey, not only as an athlete but as someone who has been able to empower others in the sport.
“My mother always told me to keep pressing on and to stand on my own two feet, especially when the going gets tough.” Mrs Mwangi also impressed on her daughter the importance of recognising what you can control and what is beyond your control and applying that to how you react in situations.
When Mwangi looks back on her career so far, there are some women whose own life journeys have proven inspiring to the Kenyan. One of the biggest role models for Mwangi is South Africa’s Marsha Cox.
“She has been an amazing player and an amazing mentor to me, especially on the FIH Athletes’ Committee. That has been a real pleasure for me [to work alongside her].
“Other people who are paving the way for young women are those other members of the Athletes’ Committee, Kate Richardson-Walsh, Janne Müller-Wieland, Camila Caram, Carla Rebecchi. It has been a pleasure to work with those guys.”
Mwangi added that the Kenyan national squad and her own teammates are all playing huge roles in showing young girls in Africa just what can be achieved by taking opportunities – in sport and in other aspects of life.
Mwangi shares these words of wisdom: “Find a mentor who can guide you and walk with you, especially someone who has walked the path as they can advise you on how to become the best you can be. If you fail, just remember it is a learning curve, so stay on the path and believe in yourself.”