Dr. Elizabeth Odera
Dr. Elizabeth Odera
One of the highest achieving Kenyan women in recent history.
Dr. Elizabeth Odera, of the Sadili Oval Sports Academy and Malezi Foundation, was recently highlighted as one of the highest women achievers in recent Kenyan history, awarded by both the Kenyan and French governments for her work in youth sports and education. “Princy”, as the kids call her (or “Dr. Liz” as she is known by everyone else), has been involved in the education and training of more than 11,000 youth in various sports, including basketball, tennis, football, rugby, athletics and swimming.
Liz was one of Kenya’s top tennis players between 1976 and 1986, when she even played circuits briefly in Europe before choosing to take up academia more seriously, eventually majoring in molecular biology and sports science. She has demystified tennis and opened opportunities to about 3,000 children from poor and rich communities alike, making Sadili the melting pot for tennis in the region. She initiated the Tennis Africa Cup, which is now the single largest network of junior players. Odera has an extensive youth programme in Kibera that includes a soccer league (108 teams and 2,700 children), netball league, a weekly basketball training, and a Girl Power Clubs Africa programme (which Serena Williams has visited twice) that uses sports to build leadership among Kenyan girls from disadvantaged communities.
A well-published researcher, Liz holds degrees in sports sciences, immunology, parasitology and education in Kenya and Denmark. Dr. Odera and her team received the reward of the Spirit of the Land of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games in 2002, the G-ForSE in Japan in 2003 and the Humanitarian of the Year in 2004 in South Carolina (PTR).
Liz was celebrated as a ChangeMakeHer, one of the world’s most influential and inspiring women of 2011 (Ashoka ChangeMaker). She recently published her first book, Sports For Life.
Liz is married to architect, Abok, James Odera, and they have two children, Joab and Terry, who are University students on tennis and academic scholarship in the USA.
Liz intends to continue her passion for making a difference through tennis by sharing her experience and successes in junior tennis worldwide. This includes improved training, setting up centres of excellence, training youth coaches and encouraging onward movement to league clubs.
"Sport had a tremendous positive impact on me throughout me life, and, as Director of the Sadili Oval Sports Academy, I’ve seen how sport can educate and drive whole communities in supporting children and youth to lead healthier lives, and inspire youth to become leaders in Africa. sportanddev.org has been essential in highlighting the importance of sport, and offering a unique platform for sports professionals to connect and learn together. I’m delighted to represent sportanddev.org as an ambassador."