Kenya mourns women's rugby captain Aberdeen Shikoyi

Aberdeen Shikoyi playing at the Dubai Sevens tournament Photo: Kenya Women's Rugby
Aberdeen Shikoyi represented Kenya at the Dubai Sevens tournament amongst other events

Tributes are being paid to Aberdeen Shikoyi, the captain of the national Kenya Women's Rugby team who died on Saturday in Nairobi.

According to the Kenya Rugby Football Union, Ms Shikoyi was injured during the first leg of the Women's Elgon Cup in Uganda a week earlier.

She was immediately airlifted to the Kenyan capital for treatment, reportedly for a spinal injury.

Her death was announced shortly after her team won this year's Elgon Cup.

'Natural leader'

Her fellow players dedicated their victory on Saturday to Ms Shikoyi, who also captained Kenya's only female rugby team Mwamba RFC.

"Aberdeen was a very, very brave girl and a very, very strong character - she was a natural leader and that why she very quickly became the captain of the Kenya women's team, and it's a team that has a lot of promise," Mwangi Muthee, chairman of Kenya Rugby Football Union, told BBC Africa.

"She had a whole career ahead of her - and everything was going for her," he said.

"It is a big loss, not just for Kenya but for the whole of the rugby fraternity. She was an extraordinary girl."

Ugandan women's national rugby player Josephine Namayega wrote on her Facebook page on Monday: "Still devastated about the death of our Kenyan sister who died soldiering on pitch for her country RIP Aberdeen."

The head of the Ugandan Rugby Union, William Blick, told BBC Africa it was a tragic accident, but no investigation was planned as it occurred as part of normal play.

On its Facebook page, the Kenya Rugby Football Union said it was organising a fundraising event to pay for her funeral - a memorial service will be held on 7 May 2012.

One fan wrote on a Kenya Rugby Football Union pictorial tribute to the rugby captain: "R.I.P. Aberdeen, the East African Rugby community will surely miss your massive rugby contribution in women's rugby."