Vinny Nyamweya is a next generation pioneer. Where there is no clear plan or path, the college athlete pushes forward on faith and determination. Where there is no way, he works and prays until there is.
Born to a family of five in the Mukuru slums on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya, Vinny and his siblings went to a packed public primary school while his mother sold vegetables and his father worked as a security guard.
Fred Osore, FCA leader in Kenya, first met Nyamweya when he and his friend Cosmas, then Headteacher at St. Peter’s Mumias Boys High School visited the Mukuru slums and found many good athletes in the community. Vinny stood out for not only his athleticism, but his work ethic, kindness and integrity. A 14-years-old, Vinny had found faith in God through the deep challenges of growing up in the slums. With care and discipleship from Fred, Vinny’s fledgling faith grew, as did his education.
God opened doors for Vinny attend St. Peter’s Mumias Boys High School on scholarship, where his passion for lacrosse and to impact others compelled him to start the lacrosse program on campus as he furthered his studies. St. Peter’s is the first boys high school in Kenya to offer lacrosse. But when COVID-19 hit in 2020, schools closed, and Vinny went back home to Mukuru only to find out his father had lost his job. Vinny and his brother started a roadside food café to raise money for rent and food. When schools reopened, his parents continued the brothers’ business and Vinny returned to St. Peter’s.
But soon into his studies, Vinny received word that parts of the slums had been demolished for road construction. His home was gone. Vinny’s parents relocated upcountry with his younger brother, leaving him and his elder brother alone. They did what they could to survive by taking odd jobs, and Vinny held on to his faith and tenacity to get through yet another setback.
He tackled the classroom and lacrosse field with a determination born from a fire in his belly to one day help both his family and those still living in the slums. Vinny’s exceptional skill and leadership landed him as captain of the U21 Kenya Lacrosse National Team. He led his team with excellence and poured into his teammates while he took charge on the lacrosse field, all while being involved in FCA alongside Fred by leading Huddles for the National Team, much like he'd been doing for his school team as well.
In 2021, the team went to Ireland for the World Lacrosse Championships. Early in the first game, Vinny broke his hand. Brokenhearted, he wrestled with great disappointment and had to captain from the sidelines.
“I just found tears falling down my cheeks, yet I knew if I was there, that was my role and there was nothing I could do,” Vinny said. “At night I would go to every player to inspire him. It was tough for me; I’d have to calm down and pray and be still with God.”
After completing O’ Level (high school), there was an opportunity to start a lacrosse program at the second boys high school in Kenya. Well acquainted with Vinny’s talent for finding and connecting with athletes, Kenya Lacrosse sent him to Lenana School, where he recruited 30 students into the program.
When it came to the next steps for education, Vinny and Fred prayed earnestly for provision. Daystar University, one of the top universities in the country, had a place for him on campus, but enrollment was expensive, and funds were scarce.
“We had no money. Vinny was on scholarship at his high school,” Fred said. “We trusted God, and God provided the funds to get him here.”
Taking it one semester at a time while trusting God’s provision for further funds for schooling, Vinny has wasted no time getting a lacrosse program started at Daystar. The campus now has 35 male and female athletes who gather for practice on a regular basis.
“I use lacrosse and tell people we can talk about God after practice,” Vinny said. “We can pray together and share our problems. I just have passion to spread the game and spread the Word of God.”
Vinny still plays for the National Team and must balance coaching, studying and being an athlete. But his passion to live out God’s calling is the fuel that keeps him going.
Now into their sixth year of friendship, Fred notes that Vinny’s heart to help and spearhead sports in school remains a driving force. “I see him as a young man whose faith is growing and becoming stronger,” Fred said.
Vinny’s heart to start things has been woven throughout his story, from finding a way forward in the Mukuru slums, to accepting the opportunity to attend St. Peter’s and develop its lacrosse program, stretching his own faith through his injury at the World Championship, and walking by faith into Daystar for continued education and the development of a new lacrosse program.
Vinny just completed his first semester at Daystar and is continuing forward on faith, believing that if God intends for him to be on campus, He will provide the funds to keep him there. He goes back to Mukuru and volunteers his time coaching kids in lacrosse. And in a few years, after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, Vinny dreams of starting a medical facility in Mukuru and other slums.
What can’t this guy do? It may seem like he’s holding an incredible amount of responsibility, but for Vinny, resilience and tenacity stem from genuine love and reflection of what God has already given him.
Kenya’s rising star is led by the light of Jesus, shining His grace into every heart he connects with through the sport of lacrosse.
“I just love lacrosse and I love God,” he said, “so I use lacrosse to spread the Gospel and the love of God.”
Please consider coming alongside Vinny Nyamweya and supporting his studies at Daystar. God is doing important things in and through him for the lacrosse community, and for young men and women at the university. Connect with Fred Osore firstname.lastname@example.org or donate here.
Photos courtesy of Fred Osore and Kenya Lacrosse