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VOL 1 | ISSUE 7 | MAY/JUNE 2017

STAR ON THE RISE

JOB OCHIENG’ In the footsteps of the great custodians

THE BIG INTERVIEW

HILLARY ECHESA

Life and times in football

LIFE AFTER FOOTBALL WOMEN FOOTBALL

HABIBA RAMADHAN

NOAH AYUKO Standing alone in the face of adversity

Giving hope to refugees through Sports for Development soka.co.ke 1


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EDITOR’S LETTER

Steven Waruru of Ulinzi FC is one of the star players of the KPL first half of the season and our pick for shirt No. 11

SOKA

MAGAZINE SokaKenya Soka_Ke Editor-in-Chief Jeff Kinyanjui Staff Writers Fabian Odhiambo Terry Ouko Vincent Opiyo Zachary Oguda Additional Photography SportPicha Maina Wambugu Design and Layout Faith Omudho Published By Soka Holdings Ltd Printed By Tevins Investments Ltd Mobile: +254 706 266 668 Marketing Ms Quinter Odongo Email: quinter@soka.co.ke Mobile: +254 705 216 569 Admistration Patrick Korir Email: patrick@soka.co.ke Mobile: +254 700 123 366

A

warm welcome to you all in this seventh issue of your favourite football magazine, Soka.

The Kenyan Premier League (KPL) takes a break after a pulsating first leg. The matches were not on TV but we still covered them extensively. Several players stood out and we have our favourite First XI of the KPL first half named. Hillary Echesa has stood the test of time and is still shining at Chemelil Sugar FC. He is a journeyman and one of the few Kenyans who are living a descent life from his football exploits. Fabian Odhiambo sat him down for the Big Interview. While Echesa is doing well, former Kenyan International Noah Ayuko is languishing in poverty and struggling to get off alcohol in Kakamega. This is a story I honestly did not enjoy assigning but we have to tell the stories and only hope the current generation of footballers can pick lessons. In my opinion, the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) and Football Kenya Federation (FKF) should work on setting a minimum wage bill as well as medical and life insurance for all players across the top-tier league. This would solve many issues affecting players and would be a huge step in professionalizing the league. I encourage you to send us your thoughts on this issue and hope you read it cover to cover.

Office Suite A5, Silverpool Office P.O. BOX 50633 - 00100, Nairobi - Kenya Phone (254) 727 443 540 (254) 700 12 33 66 Email info@soka.co.ke Online www.soka.co.ke

Editor-in -Chief Jeff Kinyanjui


SOKAMAGAZINE

VOL 1 | ISSUE 7 | MAY/JUNE 2017

INSIDE: 9

42

54

49

74

8. KPL age statistics

49. Habiba’s Sport

9. Mary Kinuthia unleashed

18. Vihiga United &

54. Victor Onyango–

Queens Profile

the forgotten safe

24. The restructuring

pair of hands

60. KPL First Eleven

of FISA Academy

for Development story

38. Job Ochieng

66. Football and the Gun

74. Noah Ayuko standing

the rising star

42. The Big Interview

alone in the

face of adversity

with Hillary Echesa

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COVER STORY

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EVENT LAUNCH

KENYA FOOTBALL NEW KIT

KIT SIGNING PICTORIAL

T

he Football Kenya Federation (FKF) have secured a kit deal with Singapore sport apparel maker Mafro Sports for a tune of Ksh 74,995,800 a year for three years.

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COVER STORY

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KPL AVERAGE AGE STATISTICS KARIBANGI SHARKS FC Total Number of players ~ 27 Age Average ~ 23.75

NZOIA SUGAR FC Total Number of players ~ 30 Age Average ~ 23.24

AFC LEOPARDS SC

ZOO FC

Total Number of players ~ 24 Age Average ~ 22.91

Total Number of players ~ 30 Age Average ~ 28.13

POSTA RANGERS FC Total Number of players ~ 30 Age Average ~ 26.85

MATHARE UNITED FC

Total Number of players ~ 30 Age Average ~ 22.83

NAKUMATT FC

THIKA UNITED FC

Total Number of players ~ 28 Age Average ~ 26.75

Total Number of players ~ 30 Age Average ~ 22.11

MUHORONI YOUTH FC

ULINZI STARS FC

Total Number of players ~ 30 Age Average ~ 25.14

Total Number of players ~ 29 Age Average ~ 26.59

SOFAPAKA FC

Total Number of players ~ 29 Age Average ~ 26.23

GOR MAHIA FC Total Number of players ~ 29 Age Average ~ 23.96

WESTERN STIMA FC Total Number of players ~ 30 Age Average ~ 25.96

SONY SUGAR FC Total Number of players ~ 29 Age Average ~ 24.91

TUSKER FC Total Number of players ~ 29 Age Average ~ 26.37

CHEMELIL SUGAR FC

KAKAMEGA HOMEBOYZ FC

Total Number of players ~ 28 Age Average ~ 24.92

BANDARI FC

Total Number of players ~ 30 Age Average ~ 25.56

Total Number of players ~ 26 Age Average ~ 25.28

Thika United have the youngest squad this season while Zoo Kericho have the oldest, according to data released by the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) Ltd. The average age of all the players in the league is 25.14. Infographic by Faith Omudho for Soka.co.ke 8 soka.co.ke


MARY KINUTHIA “My father did not like the idea of me playing football very much. He even wanted me to turn down the scholarship but I stood my ground.”

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COVER STORY

MARY KINUTHIA

“I turned down Al Hilal Dubai since I could not balance work and football.” By Terry Ouko

C

ontrary to the societal general belief that chasing dreams and visions to the greatest depths and heights brings success; to her it was all about always giving the best and knowing when to step back. Getting used to a new environment, while living away from home for the first time, was far from easy. Moreover, moving to a foreign land to work as a delivery person in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was even tougher. As far-fetched as it looked, the time to try something new, and most certainly ditching her purest form of love-football was imminent. Little did she know that the National Anthem would be sang in honor of their victory five years later, in November 2016 in Cameroon, at the most prestigious continental showpiece; Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON). Unlike other forwards who use every ounce of their muscle frame to run down and bully defenders, 27 year old Mary Kinuthia fondly known as Toto has always banked on her uncanny ability to open up tight defenses in swift motion, while the ball never wants to be too far away from her gentle touch. She is a joy to watch; blending her craft and flair with unmatched work rate, expertly transitioning from defense into attack when in possession. The aforementioned are the reasons why Harambee Starlets Head Coach David Ouma preferred her as the field captain in most of the matches. When she came back from Dubai, she was struggling to get back to shape but either way was convinced by Soccer Queens Coach, Amos Kimani, to play for his team in the 2015 Kenya Women Premier League.

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Coincidentally, Ouma was selecting the national team for the Olympics Qualifiers and she would earn a call up due to her profound ball handling skills. That changed everything. “I had just come from Dubai and was on holiday having turned down a team called Al Hilal since I could not balance work and football. I had no intentions to play over there since

“Her leadership qualities are unquestionable. She acts more, leads by example and is the most consistent player in the team.” Kenya Women National coach ~ David Ouma the Women’s league was not stable and had no sponsorship. I therefore decided to play for Soccer Queens during the break but when I got the national team call up, I decided not to go back. I honestly did not know that we would make it to the AWCON, but I stayed because I realized my passion for football was still intact.” National team career Kinuthia first played for the national team in 2006 while still a form two student at Wiyeeta High School. This was during the Under 20 World Cup Qualifiers against Nigeria where Kenya lost 8-2 and 2-1 respectively. She then got to the senior team in 2012 while at the National Youth Talent Academy; playing in a friendly match against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa where Kenya lost 5-0. The team would then be assembled again in three years later and as the norm, she was among the most dependable players in the squad.

Harambee Starlets edged Botswana 2-1 on aggregate in the first round of the Olympic qualifiers before going down 2-0 to South Africa in the second round. It was in the second leg match against Botswana that the winger showed sheer brilliance when she took matters into her own hands, left the entire defense for the dead, and rounded the keeper before calmly netting the away goal that would ensure Kenya sailed through to the second round. Another opportunity would crop up in form of the AWCON qualification and Kinuthia would be picked as captain for the crucial match. Coach Ouma strongly believes that her leadership qualities and the good relationship she maintains with her teammates, made her the best choice to lead on the pitch besides her football prowess. He also feels that she is one of the players from the Harambee Starlets squad that could have already been whisked to the world’s top leagues. “Mary Kinuthia is the most intelligent player regardless of her tiny physical nature. She might not talk much, but the courage she portrays on the field of play and her good relationship with her teammates is why I mostly preferred her as my field captain. Her leadership qualities are unquestionable. She acts more, leads by example and is the most consistent player in the team. I feel it’s unfair that she is not playing professional football in the top leagues in Europe or America. She has excellent technical and tactical abilities and that should not be overlooked because of her body size,” Ouma remarked. After a remarkable feat qualifying for the AWCON, 2016 was a year of many firsts and Kinuthia’s star kept shining in the international friendly matches as well the inaugural CECAFA tournament held in Jinja, Uganda. Her best goal was a right-foot thunderbolt against Burundi in the group stage, one that lingers in her mind every time the tourney comes to mind. She however admits that the


demise of her brother and football mentor just before the tournament affected her perfomance. Kenya would lose 2-1 to Tanzania in a final match that everyone anticipated would go in Harambee Starlets favor.

MARY KINUTHIA FACT FILE D.O.B

19 February 1990

Height

5’5

Weight

53 kgs

Positon

Midfielder

1998-2004

Sirende Primary School

2005-2008

Wiyeeta Girls Secondary

2009

Basic First Aid Foundation

2011

CICT-Marist University College

“CECAFA to me was a good experience but losing the final match crushed my spirits. It was around that time that my elder brother had passed on and I was going through a tough time since he always followed my progress. We all thought Ethiopia was the toughest team so losing to Tanzania was shocking. We however had a good tournament generally and the team’s growth was visible.”

YEAR

CLUB CAREER

2009

True Colors

2010

Mathare United Ladies

2011-2012

National Youth Talent Academy-Matuu FC

2013-2014

Unattached

2015

Soccer Queens/Uganda Christian University

2016-

Thika Queens

YEAR

ACCOLADES

2006/2007

East and Central Africa Tournament Most Valuable Player

2008

National Ball Games Champions (Wiyeeta)

2010

Kenya Women Premier League Winner-Mathare United Ladies

2011

Harambee Starlets then went for the COTIF Tournament in Spain where they finished fourth. Winning two matches was commendable but producing the overall top scorer was amazing. Kinuthia probably did not enjoy the trip at some point especially when she missed a penalty that could have drawn Starlets level against Español FC. Later, a friendly against Cameroon would be the real test before AWCON began and Starlets lost by a slim 1-0 margin at home before losing 2-1 away in a two-legged fixture. Kenya did not get the debut they had anticipated in the African showpiece; losing all three matches in the group stage against Mali, Ghana and Nigeria but she was glad they made it to Limbe to begin with.

Sakata Ball Nairobi Region & National Winner (Mathare United) Sakata Ball Most Valuable Player – both Nairobi and National level

2012

Kenya Women Premier League Winner-Matuu FC

2016

Kenya Women Premier League Winner-Thika Queens/Golden Boot winner CECAFA Women Championship Runners-up

NATIONAL TEAM CAPS Competition

Number of matches

Goals

World Cup Qualifiers

2

0

Olympic Qualifiers

4

1

African Cup Qualifiers

2

0

COTIF-Spain

4

0

CECAFA Cup

5

2

AWCON

3

0

Friendlies

9

4

Total

29

7

Early years Born in a small tranquil hometown of Maili Saba in Kitale, Kinuthia started playing football at the tender age of six. She would play with her brothers little did she know that her moment of revelation would come sooner or later. There was no girls’ team so the magical left-footed forward joined Dream Sportiff later on, which was a boys’ team after being influenced by her brothers. “When I joined the team, I would play competitively against teams in the region without the opponents finding out that I was a girl. It was a wellkept secret by my teammates and the soka.co.ke 11


COVER STORY coach and I became a dependable member of the team. One day we went for a friendly match as usual and unfortunately the kits were of the same color so my team had to play topless. My teammates had already removed their jerseys when they remembered I wasn’t able to remove mine, they quickly put them back on raising suspicion and that’s the day everyone found out I was a girl,” she said amidst uncontrollable laughter. Wanjala impact In 2005, the budding youngster’s football would begin when she landed a four-year scholarship at Wiyeeta High School. Her father was somewhat adamant and with the immense opposition from her brothers, she met a stumbling block. He felt like she needed to go to a different school where studies preceded sports. Kinuthia was however determined to make her dream of playing for the football powerhouse come true; his youth development coach Justine Okring once again facilitating the process. “My father did not like the idea of me playing football very much. He even wanted me to turn down the scholarship but I stood my ground. I would sneak out for practice behind his back since he did not approve of it. I however persisted and one day while I was in class seven, Coach Okring took me to play in a friendly match against Wiyeeta Girls in a match we lost 4-1. It was a very tough match but I scored and that’s how I landed an early secondary scholarship. The head teacher had to monitor my progress and two years later I joined the school.” Around that period, school games were the hotbed of serious talent especially for the girls outside Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu since very few played club football. Her team for instance had the most lethal attacking duo of Caroline Wanjala and Francine -currently A renowned FIFA referees. Her industrious and exuberant nature earned her a place in the first team. Her most memorable moment was 12 soka.co.ke

MARY KINUTHIA

when she burst into the scene at the National Kenya Secondary School Sports Association (KSSSA) ball games in Kakamega, where Wiyeeta played against Nyabigena Secondary School from Kisii in the final. Nyabigena known for their traditional long-balls, electrifying pace, peerless pressing and ruthless ambition in front of goal, met an opposition that believed in patient build up and passing out from the back but still relied on this slick winger with an ability to go toe to toe with defenders almost twice her size. The match ended 2-0 in favor of Wiyeeta, and the tiniest girl

her into her team right away. Like other players who played under Ajowi, her best friend Christine Nafula with whom they have played together in five different clubs lauds her humility. The Harambee Starlets midfielder also termed Toto’s show on the pitch as artistic. “I think that the reason Mary has been able to maintain her form over the years is because of her discipline and humble nature. When she went to work in Dubai we were worried from time to time when she cut communication, but that’s just who she is, a very private person. What she does on the football pitch I can only describe in one word, “ART!”

“We all thought Ethiopia was the toughest team so losing to Tanzania was shocking. We however had a good tournament generally and the team’s growth was visible.”~ Mary Kinuthia on the pitch was on the score sheet. That is how she earned her nickname “Toto” but opponents would underrate her at their own peril after the master class show.

Coincidentally, Ajowi would then coach her at the Mathare United Ladies in 2010 when they won the first ever Kenya Women Premier League.

“The National ball games at Kakamega was one of my best experiences, since it was my first real chance to compete at that level and make a name for myself. I never got the golden ball or the golden boot like in the following years, but the atmosphere was amazing. People there adore and love football and that was the first time I played in front of such a big crowd. The best part was that I was playing alongside the players I looked up to like Caroline Wanjala and that made me happy because we stroked a working partnership in the attacking third.”

Success was certainly part of this team as they would a year later win the nationwide under-23 Safaricom Sakata Ball, bagging half a million shillings as prize money.

Club Career After getting a good football foundation from the secondary level, it was really not an uphill task getting a club given that she had now relocated to Nairobi. In one of her random training sessions in Mathare area Kinuthia met True Colors coach Austine Ajowi; impressed by her skills and technical ability he recruited

Her solitary goal in the Nairobi regional final – against Kibera Soccer Girls handed her team a berth in the national finals where they went on to beat Matuu Sports 3-0 on postmath penalties to bag the overall. At both the regional and national levels Toto was picked as the most outstanding ultimately winning the Most Valuable Awards to carry home Kshs 25,000 and Kshs 50,000, respectively. They were priceless moments that got other players turning green with envy which turned into a prisoned chance months later. In 2011, the Wiyeeta High School prodigy was hand-picked from the Sakata ball tournament- to join the National Youth Talent Academy


(NYTA) in Karen as organized by UNICEF in conjunction with the relevant government ministries including Education and Youth. A strong team was formed from the tournament and the players were not only at a residential camp while they trained, but also attended Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) and Life skills courses at the Marist University College. It might not have been the best academy in the world, but it was the first of its kind in the country and being a pioneer was something to be proud of. “I was thrilled for having gotten the opportunity to be part of the playing unit in the academy. The fact that I had maintained the best player’s award right from the county level was also amazing. I was however aware of the competition in camp, it was an assembly of the best players countrywide so I knew it was no walk in the park. We anticipated college scholarships or even playing professional football abroad, since that is the general feeling when someone scouts you and houses you somewhere in the leafy suburbs of Karen.” National Youth Talent Academy (NYTA) Centre of excellence Matuu FC had just won the UNICEFsponsored Kenya Women Premier League (KWPL) title in the 2012. The team lay in wait for the award that was promised, alongside other proceeds that were anticipated after winning the most coveted prize in the country as far as women football is concerned. However, nothing was forthcoming; crushing a disappointed

Friendly match against Masinde Muliro University of Science & Technology at Kasarani Stadium

“I strongly believe that Kinuthia is immensely talented and will soon be playing professional football abroad. She has will power and determination that will soon pay off.” ~ Coach Richard Kanyi soka.co.ke 13


COVER STORY

MARY KINUTHIA

INTERNATIONAL MATCHES PLAYED AGAINST

young girl’s spirit. As if that was not enough, her scholarship prospect in the United States hit a snag. A new beginning Curtains had come down on the Women’s league, and Kinuthia felt the need to turn a new leaf. While everyone else went back home, she remained behind and started a fast foods business with the little money she got from playing for Matuu FC. Business was booming and she wanted to switch from selling door to door to securing a small restaurant. That is when the job opening in Dubai came knocking. “Coach (Bob) Okallo at NYTA had helped us apply for scholarships in the USA and it was promising but none went through. This was because of the Sakata ball cash awards that made me look like a professional while only amateur players were required for the slots. My name was all over the internet and that is how I missed the chance to study in the United States through a football scholarship. After leaving the team, I decided to take the job since I felt like I had been playing for a long time but there was no breakthrough. Business was good in Matuu but I decided to take the job in Dubai so as to kill the urge of having to play. I knew if I stayed my friends would convince me to keep playing yet we got very little or nothing at all at the time.” The sensational midfielder also won the WPL title besides emerging the top goal scorer in the 2016 season at Thika Queens. Her contract with the two-time champions ended in May and she is yet to move to a new club, which is a best kept secret. Her former coach at Thika, Richard Kanyi, however asserts that he strong believes that the 14 soka.co.ke

CLUBS

COUNTRIES

1. Espanyol

1. Nigeria

2. Levante

2. Ethiopia

3. Real Betis

3. Egypt

4. Wydad Casablanca

4. Uganda

5. CAK Khenifra

5. Burundi

6. Nazarene-USA

6. Tanzania 7. Zanzíbar 8. Algeria 9. Cameroon 10. Mali 11. Ghana 12. Botswana 13. South Africa 14. Morocco

“I get so much joy when I work with kids and am hoping that one day I will run my own organization.” ~ Mary Kinuthia

talented Toto will play professional football in the near future. “I strongly believe that Kinuthia is immensely talented and will soon be playing professional football abroad. She has will power and determination that will soon pay off. Such are the players who work behind the scenes and it is sometimes had to notice them unless you have a third eye,” Kanyi noted. Community Service Apart from playing football Kinuthia runs her business where she sews and sells floor mats and carpets. She is however keen on expanding it with time since it brings in good proceeds. She is also a member of a community based organization- Girls Unlimited, where she engages in coaching, organizing soccer clinics and capacity building for young children through Sport for Development. She

is also a member of Otto Benecker Football Club, Mathare Zone which engages in community services such as clean ups in the slum. “I get so much joy when I work with kids, and I’m hoping that one day I will run my own organization where I can be able to help children in need and enable them unearth their potential. Meanwhile I am hoping that doors will open so that women’s football can continue growing. 2016 was a good year for me and for the women football fraternity in Kenya. With continued support the World Cup is never far-fetched,” she concluded.

Follow Terry Ouko on Twitter: @Terry_Ouko


COVER STORY

COVER STORY

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COVER STORY

MARY KINUTHIA

CECAFA Group stage match against Burundi

International Friendly against Egypt at Kasarani

Photo courtesy of Sports-pot

CECAFA finals against Tanzania

Kenya Women Premier League match pitting Thika Queens against Soccer Sisters

Photo courtesy of MID-EGO

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International friendly game against Uganda

CECAFA Group stage match against Burundi

Photo courtesy of MID-EGO

Photo courtesy of MID-EGO

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CLUB PROFILE

VIHIGA QUEENS

VIHIGA QUEENS Queens of the land

By Fabian Odhiambo Name

Vihiga Queens

Nickname

Queens

Year Founded

2014

Home

Mumias Sports Complex, Training at Kidundu Stadium

Honors

Silver Medalists 2016 KeWPL

Sponsor

Vihiga County Government

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It could have gone either way, the 2017 Kenya Women Premier League play-off final. A match marking, for a long time coming, the culmination of a fantastic season of the women’s game in the country. Both champions of their respective league logs, and each bearing the tag ‘Queens’, it was here that the inevitable question popped up. May the real Queens stand up? Thika did.


Catherine Wangeci and Mercy Achieng simply did what football is all about, a goal apiece and Thika Queens trumped a more fancied Vihiga Queens to retain the league crown. Vihiga on the other hand were left to rue a dozen missed opportunities. It could have gone either way. “That playoff match is past us now but the good thing is that we took a lot of positives. Those who watched the match will tell you that we dominated our opponents but football is all about converting your chances when you get them. Thika converted theirs but we didn’t,’’ recalls Coach Alex Alumira. Coach Alumira treads where very few dare to. Every morning he takes the long bike ride from Chavakali in Sabatia to Kidundu Stadium where he will find Vihiga Queens changed and ready to take instructions. Losing finalists to Thika Queens from last year’s ultimate KeWPL clash, he is leaving nothing to chance. In just two league matches played, the girls have found the back of the net ten times. If the playoff final were to be replayed today, he’d probably say bring it on. It may only be his fourth year with the Queens, but the most important thing is that he has been here from the start. “We are a people who love football in this region. Talent being available in surplus may be an incentive but generally, we love sport,’’ says Alumira who alongside Mike Senelwa founded the club in 2014. “We had Kidundu Ladies team that mainly participated in holiday tournaments. You understand back then even the league was somehow played in the tournament format. The girls were good, and we thought why not officially register them as a team. That’s how Vihiga Queens came to be,’’ Alumira goes back in time. Pioneers Metrine Senelwa, Myline Awuor, Phoebe Oketch and Selphine Muyonga are just a few of the pioneers of the club. They have been

there from the moment Kidundu Ladies adopted a new name. Despite the club opening its doors to quality talent from outside of Vihiga County, a bulk of them are homegrown. Cynthia Shilwatso and Vivian Makokha are the most recent callups to the National Under-20 team. Though still in school, coach Alumira has already given them their league debuts and each of them has a goal. The two Ibinzo Girls High School students are homegrown talent that the coach banks on for continuity. They are, however, not the first ones to be called up to the national team from Vihiga Queens. Captain Lilian Adera has been to the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) held in Cameroon late last year, a chance she cherishes.

by few. Though starting with nothing back in 2014, financial aid would only come two years later by the way of the County Government of Vihiga. First, the government began by facilitation means of transportation and match day allowances. At the moment, the girls are salaried and this very much elates the Coach. “It only three years but we have struggled to make a name for ourselves. Our County government has been helpful financially and without them we probably wouldn’t have been here. I remember us playing in the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Division 1 league for two years. You can imagine one single league going for two years. It was hectic. You play a match today and have absolutely no idea when next

‘I may not have played at the AWCON but the sheer fact of just being there with the team is an invaluable experience.” Vihiga Queens Captain Lilian Adera “I may not have played at the AWCON but the sheer fact of just being there with the team is an invaluable experience. We didn’t do well as a team but we did learn a lot given it was our first time on such a stage,’’ says Adera who despite not being called-up for the international friendlies before the tournament, managed to get a last minute call-up. ‘My invitation came a little late because I actually didn’t get to play in the friendly matches before the continental competition so it wasn’t easy to break into the first team. They had played together for a while hence the need to have the best chemistry on the field,’’ concludes the former Kisumu Youth Olympic Centre (KYOC) product. Women’s Game As it is anywhere in the world, the women’s game struggles to cope with their male counterparts level of publicity. Coach Alumira follows most international women’s leagues and is encouraged that he is not alone in trying to chart these waters trodden

you will play. I remember traveling to St Joan’s Ugari with just nine players for a league match. We won 4-0, and after such victories you just cannot give up,’’ reveals Alumira- sentiments echoed by his assistant Staus Olienge. Staus doubles up as the team manager and assistant coach. He, just like Alumira, has been here from the start, and believes if the league had been organized three years back as it is now, maybe his girls would be playing in the continental competitions. His dreams for the club stiffly anchor here. Coach Alumira takes his girls for a second stint in the women’s top flight league in the country. If anything has changed from the squad that did a season-long duty last year, then it’s the addition of fresh talent within his unit. He is the second best in the country but Alumira wants top spot, and more of his players into the national team too. This he can only do by staying unbeaten through the 2017 season. he intends to do just that.

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CLUB PROFILE

VIHIGA QUEENS

Vihiga Queens warm up before a league tie at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu. The Squad Goalkeepers

Wilfrida Seda, Lilian Awuor, Maureen Anjia, Sheila Shabuya

Defenders

Phelistus Kadari, Robai Kebedi, Lilian Adera, Myline Awuor, Enez Mango, Euphresia Afwayi, Vivian Makokha, Linder Kahenda

Midfielders

Linda Choka, Maureen Ater, Alice Mideri, Faith Ongachi, Metrine Senelwa, Everline Nyongesa, Yvonne Kavere

Strikers

Selphine Muyonga, Phoebe Oketch, Winney Gwatenda, Topister Situma, Cynthia Shilwatso

Technical Bench C. E. O

Michael Ogada

Head Coach

Alex Alumira

Assistant Coach

Bonface Nyamunyamu

Goalkeeper Trainer

Staus Olienge

Team Manager

Festus Akaranga

Team Chaperone

Catherine Jayo

Kit Manager

Olule Nelson

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A Breath of Fresh Air

Vihiga United “Every restructuring process has its fair share of challenges and ours was not any different. Looking back I am glad we faced them - that way people can look back and appreciate every positive step we have made.” Vihiga United head coach ~ Edward Manoah

V

ihiga United are no older than their counterparts the Queens, matter of fact both entered the scene three years ago as means of social intervention by the Vihiga County Government.

Before that though, there has always been a team. The name was AllStars, Vihiga AllStars- and talent overflowed. Though failing to make it out of the 2013 Football Kenya Federation Division 1 league, the team had not escaped the notice of County Government that through the Ministry Of Youth Sports and Culture (MOSCA), was keen on tapping into the bountiful sporting gifts of its youth. Pioneering (and still) coach Edward Manoah had to be roped in from Premier League side Kakamega Homeboyz to come and offer aid back ‘home’, the former Oserian Fastac coach being tasked with heading the restructuring process at the club as AllStars changed name to United. Vihiga United, it was decided, offered a broader appeal to the fans. ‘’Every restructuring process has its fair share of challenges and ours back in 2013 was not short of one. We did have them, and looking back I am glad we did have them because that way people can look back and appreciate every step that we have made from then,’’ begins Manoah reflecting on the team’s progress since he got here.

George Odiwour who has since decamped to top ranked side Homeboyz was the captainand just one of the few that managed to stick with the club throughout the restructuring process. Geoffrey Oputi (KCB) is another while Johnson Muyesu and David Kavaji chose to stay. Sponsorship With sponsorship from the County Government (and a thorough preseason recruitment), Vihiga United went straight atop the FKF Div 1 table standings for the first three weeks. Despite being dislodged from the top by Palos FC for another three weeks, they would seal the summit spot for the remainder of the season and eventually win the division. Promotion beckoned for the team and alongside second placed Palos, Vihiga were taken a tier higher. The 2015 season would be a close call as with the promotion came tougher and properly motivated opponents. Clashes against GFE 105, Bondo United, Nyakach United and Palos were of superior quality as regards tactics, Coach Manoah believes. Despite doing a double over Eldoret-based GFE, Vihiga United had to force a barren stalemate at the season’s end against Palos to preserve their top of the log status. In a match played at Chavakali High School, Palos needed a win to leapfrog the hosts and be crowned 2015 Super League champions, for United on the other hand, a draw would be plausible. They were champions yet again, and up into the second tier they went. ‘’We had recruited well in December of 2013 from the tournaments that go on at around this time of the year. To the few we had taken from AllStars, we added yet another talented batch from the top performers during these tournaments,’’ reveals Manoah who bumped into an exceptional Bernard Ochieng during the off-season tournaments. ‘’It’s funny how most of our top youth performers are never given special

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CLUB PROFILE

VIHIGA UNITED

attention after finishing school. Look at Ochieng for example- a Copa Coca Cola Player of the Tournament during his high school days yet I had to discover him from a village tournament. It is important to keep tabs on these players once they earn such accolades at a young age, who knows? From these school games we may just discover the next big star then fail to follow up on their progress,’’ laments Manoah. Open doors policy Though offering a sporting platform for its county’s youth, the club never closed its doors to exceptional talent from outside, and if Ben Ochieng- a Kenyatta University undergraduate is not enough proof, then Rashid Kyambadde and Bruno Sserunkuma- both Ugandans, are. The team however still draws most of its key players from within. Amos Kigadi, Christopher Masinza, Ben Ochieng and Michael Misigo (has since decamped to PL side Kariobangi Sharks) were all called up to the national team in the 2016 National Super League (NSL) season, a source of elation to Manoah and a morale booster to the playing unit. Though still relatively unknown, but with four players already drawing the attention of the national team technical bench, Vihiga United finished an impressive sixth in the 20-team NSL log and missed promotion by two slots in a season that had four teams scale up a log higher and into the Kenyan Premier League. “2016 was a season of revelation to us. The boys knew we could match our opponents even though it was our first time in the league. Along the way we discovered that we could push for promotion but we missed by a whisker,” recalls Manoah. Debacle & Confusion The promotion debacle that ensued at the start of the 2017 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) season had somehow declared Vihiga United as participants in the forthcoming season. Muhoroni Youth and Sofapaka, though having both survived the drop from the top tier,

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had been relegated for failure to comply with the FIFA Club Licensing whose deadline according to the country’s football governing body, had run out. This in effect meant that teams number 5 and 6 in the 2016 NSL log had been promoted into the KPL. Vihiga United was team number 6, but Coach Manoah doesn’t want to remember this period of debacle when confusion is all everyone saw. ‘’The only other time I have ever felt the way I felt that time is when I did my last year with Oserian Fastac back in the day. Having won the premier league three years in a row, and we were still topping the log at the time, news that the club would be disbanded left me in shock. This is the same way I felt when I was conducting training sessions with my boys yet not

“2016 was a season of revelation to us. The boys knew we could match our opponents even though it was our first time in the league. Along the way we discovered that we could push for promotion but we missed by a whisker.” ~ Manoah

knowing which league we were preparing for,’’ recalls Manoah. He had seen torment before, and knew how to manage such situations. Players were over the moon, he says, but deep down he knew anything could happen- sad the players didn’t. A counselling session here and there helped ease the situation and even as news finally came that United would still need to do another year in the second tier, at least he had prepared the boys psychologically. “For close to a whole month I only saw bodies come to training, they weren’t here at all. But we gradually brought them back through long talks after training sessions because our opponents in the NSL were just waiting for us. It was disappointing for them, but a challenge well taken,” reveals the coach. Two years ago little was known of these boys from the Western part of the country, yet a single news headline thrusts them into the country’s footballing circles’ centre of discussions. Vihiga United may have to do another season in the second tier, only this time, they are not newbies anymore. They are the team that almost made it to the premier league, that everyone wants to beat. With the boys now wearing their emotions on their sleeves, who knows, maybe the team fondly christened ‘The Blaze’- may just be the breathe of fresh air when they finally earn that promotion.


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Left: Vihiga United duo of Patrick Okullo and Kevin Affudo engage at a past village tournament. It is from such tournaments that United gets its players. Top: Vihiga United duo of Patrick Okullo and Kevin Affudo engage at a past village tournament. It is from such tournaments that United gets its players.

Technical Bench

The Squad Goalkeepers

Caleb Wamalwa, Munai Gilbert, Barcky Otieno, Frankline Mwenda

Defenders

Dennis Ombeva, Derrick Mwanzi, Zablon Chelote, David Kavaji, Johnson Muyesu, Bernard Ochieng, Moffat Liuva, Edwin Otieno.

Midfielders

Christopher Masinza, Bruno Sserunkuma, Martin Imbalambala, Jacob Atinda, Kennedy Omunyin, Clyde Senaji, Kelvin Mugone, Patrick Okullo, Nelson Asena, Kevin Muhanji, John Ouma, Kevin Sagadi

Strikers

Rashid Kyambadde, Godfrey Airo, Dennis Kisamba, Aquinas Alufwani, Amos Kigadi

Head Coach

Edward Manoah

First assistant coach

Tom Tera

Second assistant coach

Xavier Francis

Team Manager

James Musasia

Kit Manager

Abdulaziz Hamisi

Physio

Maxwell Alenga

Trainer

Erick Otieno

Administration

Emoja Sasava

Team Doctor

Carolyne Muhati

Follow Fabian Odhiambo on Twitter: @fabian_odhiambo

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YOUTH FOOTBALL

FISA ACADEMY

The Restructuring of FISA Academy

Once a fast rising talent hub in Kenya, FISA has, in recent times, faced challenges and is now restructuring By Jeff Kinyanjui

F

ounded in 2006, Friendship International Sports Academy (FISA) produced great players who graced the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) and even the national team. Among these were Paul Were, Ibrahim Kitawi, Musa Mohammed, Kevin Ade Omondi to name just but a few. But the talent factory has recently run into challenges. After a below average season in 2016, they were relegated from the Nairobi Regional League (NRL) and are yet to honour a fixture in the County League. Just when did the rain start beating the once famous talent hub from South B and what is really happening?

the onset we had Charles Omondi Korea, Hannington Bwire, Mickey Weche, Amit Shah. Austine Oduor and Peter Dawo but the latter were unable to continue with the dream due to work commitments. The Academy initially drew talent from four Mukuru primary schools: St Catherine’s, Mukuru Kaiyaba, St. Bakhita and St. Elizabeth. Therefore, we had a wide pool of young children to mould from the onset.”

Dr Maurice Ajwang, a senior lecturer and Dean of the Faculty of Law at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) is FISA’s Founding Director. He nostalgically recalls humble beginnings in 2006 and how they eventually produced what he refers to as ‘the Golden Generation of FISA.’

“Unknown to most, we avail education opportunities to a large chunk of our players through our connections.” FISA Academy Director ~Maurice Ojwang’

As we settle down for the interview, Dr. Owuor asserts, “Sports, football in particular, is all about friendship and when we started out our vision was to become an international academy hence the name (Friendship International Sports AcademyFISA). We sat together as a group of friends from South B and decided to start an initiative that would help the local youth by providing opportunities that would keep them from crime and other vices. At 24 soka.co.ke

“For two years we organized the FISA Cup that brought these four schools together, from which we chose very good players that formed the foundation of the Academy across

all the categories; under-8, under-14 and the senior team. What I like to call ‘the golden generation of FISA that included Paul Were, Kevin Ade Omondi, Simon Mbugua, Ibrahim Kitawi, Victor Ashinga and Musa Mohammed among others all passed through the system, playing together from a young age. Under good hands they were taught basic football skills at the right age and this explains why we produced good players,” he adds. Scholarships As the academy grew and players moved up the ranks, secondary

FISA Alumni schools around Nairobi took note and offered several players full scholarships due to their exemplary performance in football. Notably, Musa Mohammed, Simon Mbugua and Kevin Ade Omondi went to Langata High School while Ibrahim Kitawi, Michael Juma and Paul Were went to

Milimani Secondary School. Several others of what was to become ‘the golden generation’ joined Kamukunji High School amongst other schools. “Unknown to most, we avail education opportunities to a large chunk of our players through our connections and that is really important, not only to the academy but to the players too. About 90% of ‘the golden generation’ completed their O-levels through football scholarships. This was exciting for us since the players were maturing and despite being in school, they could


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“Ibrahim Kitawi was our pioneer star that broke into the national team earlier and became a role model for the rest of the players...�

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YOUTH FOOTBALL

FISA ACADEMY

train and play league matches over the weekend. This way our teams continued to shine,” Ajwang explains. Declining performance However, he is quick to point out that with success came challenges that eventually led to poor performance of the team especially in the league. It is important to note that FISA was relegated from the Nairobi Regional League (NRL) last season and are yet to honour a fixture this season in the Nairobi County League (NCL). Maurice reveals that they are rethinking their strategy and want to focus more on youth development. “More schools outside Nairobi realized that we were producing very good youngsters and started offering full scholarships. We could not deny the players these opportunities and this had a direct impact in our performance since it was not possible for the players to represent the Academy in league matches over the weekends in Nairobi. Over the

Valon Sponsorship in 2012

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past two years we have been faced with this challenge and therefore opted to scout players who hadn’t passed through our system to play in the league. That has not worked out and at the moment the plan is to fully restructure and concentrate on developing the next generation of FISA stars. We will start afresh with several strong youth teams – probably under-8 and under-14. FISA became synonymous with producing talented players and in the next 5 years we will be back at it,” he reassures. “Another challenge was the fact that apart from the 2014 season when we had sponsorship from Valon, we have basically been supporting the academy from our own pockets which is ultimately unsustainable.” He opines that the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and Government should support talent producing academies such as FISA. “At one point, we had four players in the senior national team and

several others in the Under-20 set up despite being a small, barely surviving academy. Yet, despite our success, we have never received any support whatsoever from the government or the Federation. I believe that if they supported these small academies in the grassroots like they did the Olympic Youth Centres in the 1970s then we can become a football powerhouse in Africa, but that can only happen if we have people who genuinely love and understand sports, at the helm of football management,” he says. Having worked with hundreds of players at the academy, Maurice lauds praise on Ibrahim Kitawi, Kevin Ade Omondi, Musa Mohamed and Paul Were as his favourite players of ‘the golden generation.’ “All the players came from a poor background and had unique life stories but the four have proven over time that with hard work anything is achievable. They are all very talented


and I have special memories of them during their stay the Academy.” “Ibrahim Kitawi was our pioneer star that broke into the national team earlier and became a role model for the rest of the players but Musa Mohamed out of this generation was the most versatile. He is a utility player who can play almost all positions in the pitch except goal. He started off in the academy as an attacking midfielder. His discipline and commitment is exemplary. That is what explains his continued good performance at the highest level in the country for both club and national team.” “Paul’s resilience is one of his strengths. I remember when he was still a form two student at Milimani Secondary School in 2006; we (FISA) had a friendly match with Tusker FC at their Ruaraka grounds. He caught the eye of the then coach, Jacob Ghost Mulee, repeatedly getting the better of one of the best fullbacks Kenya has ever produced in Ibrahim Shikanda. That same year he was named Player of the Tournament in the East Africa U20 Challenge Cup in Tanzania.”

Weche, Charles Korea and Hannington Bwire and on the other the friends of the academy including Antony Mburu of Cooperative Bank, Brian Odwori of Milba Brands, Rakesh Chandrakant Shah CEO Vitafoam, media personality Vincent Ateya and Valon who were their main sponsor for a year. Ade on his part believes that the calibre of coaches at the Academy played a big role in their success earlier on. “We had very good coaches from the start; Mickey Weche is a former Kenyan International and has coached to the national level. Korea is good at player development and the rest had good connections. These, amongst other factors really helped propel the Academy and individual players like me to higher heights while we were still young,” says Ade. Poverty and Opportunities One of the co-founders of the Academy, Amit Shah, also

believes that all is not lost as they focus on restructuring. “My friend Maurice came to me with the idea of starting a football club back in 2006. We have a lot of untapped potential in Kenya due to lack of infrastructure and mismanagement of youth football. We saw this as an opportunity to keep kids away from the evil vices of slum life and direct their focus and energy into something that is fun and exciting. Poverty in Kenya was the main driver for me to give these kids an alternative. They either play football or utilize that time for negative thoughts about life,” he says. “The response was great from the onset. We had a lot of football and no kid was side-lined. Everyone got a chance to play and it was all very exciting. I love seeing kids with a beaming smile on their faces, it is pure innocence. What made it great

“Ade is definitely one of the most technically gifted players in Kenya. In terms of raw talent, he’s the best the country has seen in the last decade or so.” ~ Maurice Ajwang

“Ade is definitely one of the most technically gifted players in Kenya. In terms of raw talent, he’s the best the country has seen in the last decade or so. His ball control and vision are unique and it is sad he could not hold on and work out his career in South Africa. Moroka Swallows wanted to send him on loan to Cape Town United but Ade was not comfortable with that. Look at Cape Town now! It is among the top teams currently in the South African Premier League (PSL). With just a little bit of hard work he (Ade) should have been part of their success story,” Ajwang states. “Last but least of the FISA stars were Robert Onyango, who in my view was one of the most accomplished free kick and dead ball specialists and Kevin Kwasila - an admirable ball dribbler.” According to Dr. Owuor, the success of FISA is not complete without on one hand recognising the coaches; Mickey soka.co.ke 27


YOUTH FOOTBALL

FISA ACADEMY

was that we had started at the right time with the right age. We had over a hundred kids and the numbers were rising as word went round. I am impressed with the determination kids have, I also believe all kids are good; it is the lack of opportunities that leads them astray. My only regret is that we had to cut our numbers as we could not afford to sustain the academy. We had several well-wishers, but it is difficult to keep asking friends and family for help and therefore, we have decided to focus on training this year, and run it as a talent nurturing academy and a feeder program for bigger clubs. FISA has been good at scouting talent and channelling it,” he adds. Shah also singles out Paul Were as the player who stands out for him from ‘the golden generation.’ “He is my star. He has proven that whatever the circumstances, with determination and hard work you can get whatever you want. He gives me hope in life. However, he is only one example and many others have been equal to him. Luck plays an important role as well, and Paul has been blessed.” Shah emphasizes on the need to separate football and politics; “There are a lot of kids out there and we have to do our part to direct them. Football is a great mechanism. I am not sure who would be the right person in government to take this on. As an individual I can make a small difference but collectively we can make a massive change in South B and Kenya at large. Football should be about bringing people together and teaching kids about team work. There should be nothing political about it,” he concludes. Patrick Oboya Former Kenyan International Patrick Oboya was briefly at the academy before he went to Europe. He says that subsequent academies and football teams that have come up in South B are as a result of the foundation FISA set.

“FISA gave hope to so many kids back then and that was important as growing up in the slums is not easy. Several other academies and football teams that have come up as a result of the foundation FISA set include South B AllStars, South B United Sports Academy (SUSA) (where my younger brother Abraham Oboya currently plays) and Cheza Sports Academy to name but a few. As such, we expect several top players from the neighbourhood to shine at the top level in the

The team has produced good players and I remember during the inaugural KPL U20 Tournament the top scorer, Omari Borafya, was from FISA,” Doyo says. coming years,” Oboya says. Coach Charles Omondi Korea who left in 2015 is proud of what they were able to achieve at the academy. “I was directly involved in the development of all these players and to see them get into big teams and represent the nation makes me very proud. Musa Mohammed still remains my best player. He had dropped out of school and stopped playing football but I convinced him to give it one more try. See what he has achieved now! He is quite disciplined and I have never had any problems with him,” Korea says. “From 2015, all was not smooth sailing at the Academy and I felt I had overstayed. I stepped aside and joined Kitengala Shooters and later Gor Youth. Currently, I’m the head coach of National Super League (NSL) side Police FC and also serve as the Technical Director of South B AllStars. I am glad that I am still playing a part in talent development.” Federation Dickson Doyo who was the (FKF) Nairobi Branch Deputy Treasurer during FISA’s superiority is surprised with the club’s general organization lately. “The academy always served as an example to the other teams in the Nairobi Provincial League as they were organized and performing well.

Former FISA Academy head coach Charles Omondi Korea 28 soka.co.ke

They did not face the challenges occasioned by lower tier teams like transport logistics and proper preparations for matches and that is what set them apart. However, since coach Korea left the Academy all has not been well. I hope they can redeem themselves because they have a name to protect. The team has produced good players and I remember during the inaugural KPL U20 Tournament the top scorer, Omari Borafya, was from FISA,” Doyo says.

Mukumu School The Academy might be down but not out as yet. A large chunk of players that featured for Kakamega Homeboyz in the last KPL U20 Tournament are from FISA but on full scholarships at Mukumu High School. FISA Director Maurice Owuor is optimistic they will rise up once more, even though the challenge is great. Will they? Only time will tell. Follow Jeff Kinyanjui on Twitter: @Nyash88


Press writtings about FISA

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YOUTH FOOTBALL

FISA ACADEMY

Paul Were was named Player of the Tournament in the East Africa U20 Challenge Cup in Tanzania in 2006 while still at FISA Academy 30 soka.co.ke

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PROMOTED TWICE

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT

Promoted Twice Stars that learnt to shine again By Fabian Odhiambo

A

t the end of the 2013 Football Kenya Limited (FKL) Nationwide league, Nakuru AllStars earned promotion back to the top flight, and after a neareternal spell in the dark. Twice winners of the top flight league, AllStars, despite clinching top spot in their FKF Zone B Group 1, had to endure a tense playoff match against Oserian FC who were on top and still unbeaten in Zone B Group 2 at the City Stadium in Nairobi. At the time boasting a bagful of youth, it was two youngsters who combined to lift AllStars up when it mattered most as Wilson Andati gave John Ndirangu’s cross the perfect direction on 31 minutes. That was the goal that all AllStars remember. They were to be the new faces of the top flight in the Kenyan game, new faces donning the legendary orange and carrying the hopes of a county with it. For a while now, Nakuru County had been thrown into oblivion wherever football was the business. The two time winners of the top flight league had however, somehow- with the aid of a handful of teenagers- crawled their way back to the top. Would they reclaim the title they last won in 1963? That’s for another day. In here- the AllStars squad that gained promotion- were four players who, for what they would do a couple of years later, are the subject of this article. Lawrence Juma (Nzoia Sugar FC), Stanslous Akiya (Zoo FC), William Obayi (Zoo FC) and Boniface Akenga (Nakumatt FC) are players who have endured the stormy waters

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of Kenya’s second tier league twice, and are back in the top flight for a second stint. Simply put, they are stars that learnt to shine again. Lawrence Juma (Nzoia Sugar FC) Lawrence Juma insists he could have stayed longer, but every player wants playtime. So having seen his place gradually taken by new faces that were signed upon promotion into the top flight, he took a massive leap of faith and made the bold move

‘‘It’s every player’s dream to earn promotion into the KPL when you are in the second tier, and for us at AllStars everything worked just fine.’’ Lawrence Juma, Nzoia Sugar back into the second tier. AllStars had miraculously survived the 2014 top flight season, the administrative wrangles at the time gifting them with yet another bite at the cherry. It was six months later that Juma made a long trip to Bungoma in the hope of re-igniting his midfield charm that-in retrospect- hadn’t really begun. Nzoia United, sitting ninth in the 20-team National Super League (NSL) log, had its doors open for Juma. ‘’It’s every player’s dream to earn promotion into the KPL when you are in the second tier, and for us at AllStars everything worked fine. I do not remember us struggling on the pitch for the results. The playoff match against Oserian may have

been nervy but banking on our league dominance that 2013 season, we weren’t going to slip at the last hurdle,’’ the diminutive anchorman says of his spell at Nakuru. The boy was good. Just five months at rivals Timsales Football Club saw neighboring second tier side AllStars rope him in for the 2013 season’s second leg. Six months later, alongside Ushuru (KRA at the time), the team earned promotion into the KPL Division 1. Straight into the top league in under a year, a fairy tale should have begun for Juma, but it didn’t. ‘’Many teams upon promotion always try to change the whole squad with experienced players forgetting that for a group to play and earn promotion means they are ready for the challenge. Playtime for me was hard to come by, and a few other players too. To make it worse, we weren’t doing so well in the league,’’ reveals Juma who cut short his second year in the top flight in 2015 and headed to Nzoia United joining two of his former teammates at Timsales from two years back. Luke Namanda and Geoffrey Gatu had joined Nzoia a year before; it was therefore easy for him to settle at their Sudi base. If a debut 0-3 away win against West Kenya Sugar FC wasn’t testament enough to what was to come for Lawi, a 6th place finish for Nzoia in the 2015 season- up from 9th- was. The following season Nzoia Sugar (name changed around this time) outdid themselves in the NSL. Of the 31 times they played, 31 times the


PLAYER SPOTLIGHT

PROMOTED TWICE

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PROMOTED TWICE

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT

highly motivated team didn’t taste defeat. One more win and promotion was a surety, and Juma had been here before. Match-day 32 had them travel to Juma’s former side Nakuru AllStars, and for the first time, the team deemed invincible, fell through a lightning-fast Elvis Rupia brace. Juma had been rested for the match. The following week, a 2-1 win over Kisumu-based Palos FC guaranteed Nzoia a place in the 2017 Kenyan Premier League season. Lawrence Juma, having missed just four of Nzoia’s 38 league matches, was back in the top tier for the second time. Akenga Boniface (Promotion with Kariobangi Sharks) From the Stars’ lot that had dominated the country’s second tier league, a 16 year old form three student had somehow found himself thrown into the fray on four occasions. So good was Boniface Akenga that Coach Peter Okidi - despite not having the kid around for training most times - still managed to tag him along for a few league matches.

goals in 2015 did little to save his team’s blushes as again AllStars finished bottom of the log. There was standoff yet again, just not survival for Nakuru AllStars. Alongside Kenya Commercial Bank FC (KCB) down they went, and up came Posta Rangers and Kakamega Homeboyz. It is here that the youngster opted for another second tier team in Kariobangi Sharks who at the time had never played in the top flight. He had tasted promotion once, maybe he was the charm Sharks needed. “I realized a long time ago as I was just getting started with football that targets help a lot. When as a team you set your goals, it becomes easy to work through the season. AllStars and Sharks were very similar to that regard. Similarity in playing

William Obayi and Stanslous Akiya are part of the bulk of players that moved from St Joseph’s in 2011 and re-formed Nakuru AllStars - a club that for a while had been defunct. With the aid of a sponsor, it was easy to ship boys from the neighboring St Joseph, at the time already in the second tier, and bring forth a Nakuru AllStars re-incarnate. The ones, who remained at St Joseph’s they recall, were the youth side, and they had to start again from the bottom.

In the season that followed though - and in spite of the excitement that came with promotion- school needed him the most as he was just about to sit his O’ Level exams at Spotlight Academy in Nakuru. Even then, the boy still managed four appearances for Nakuru AllStars in the top flight, their return nothing short of disappointing, at least according it to the 2014 KPL table standings at the season’s end.

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Stanslous and Obayi William (Zoo FC) Akiya, fondly referred to as Stano, and Obayi christened Dunga, have had a combined twelve years in the second tier- six apiece. Theirs is no Cinderella story, matter of fact they’ve qualified for the top flight more times than they have played in it - a fact that they say only serves to inspire them. ‘’As we speak, this should be Zoo’s third year in the Premier League. We qualified in 2014 when we both had joined the club. We again qualified in 2015 but due to the administrative wrangles that were there at the time, we were never promoted,’’ recalls Akiya.

‘’The team that earned promotion had belief in youth. I was not the only teenager in the team. Elvis Rupia (Nzoia Sugar) and Kennedy Owino (KCB) were a class behind me in school. Each one of us was always given a chance whenever the coach saw most opportune,’’ says Akenga.

A stand-off between the country’s football governing body, FKF, and the league manager, KPL, saw AllStars survive the cut and Akenga, now past school, raring to go. His nine

style may have contributed to my move to Sharks but I have to say it is the motivation you get as a player that really counts,’’ says Akenga who after seeing Sharks earn promotion into the 2017 KPL shifted base to another KPL newbie Nakumatt FC. His tally for the 2016 NSL season stands at 11 goals, most of them scored in the first leg of the season before he suffered a devastating injury that saw him out of a good chunk of the second leg. Even while not playing only one teammate managed to surpass his league tally; Ibrahim Kitawi’s 13 goals.

Lawrence Juma is in his third year at Nzoia Sugar

‘’The period in which AllStars had been formed was a time when teams were really struggling financially. When a sponsor came on board and promised us adequate support, we were all but ready to go and re-birth this legend of Nakuru Football,’’ Obayi, a central defender, says, going back in time. It was never a guarantee however, that with the aid of a sponsor


promotion was to come automatically. It took three laborious years of trying. 2011 for gelling, 2012 for mistakes and 2013 for daybreak. Nakuru AllStars were back to where football mattered - at least. The first year had them finish outside the automatic promotion slots and before the second year (2012) began, a number of changes were made to the youthful squad. In came Noah Abich, Titus Mulama, David Mwangi and that sensational Congolese - Hugo Nzoka. They still would not qualify, and the veterans left. Having now to keep the trust of their youthful players, no major signings were made as the team prepared for the 2013 season - the season of redemption, the season when just a single goal would propel them back into the highest echelons of Kenyan Football.

that had gained promotion, just a few signings and they would be good to go. However, as their return season in the top flight progressed, playtime diminished for a few and the thoughts of finding it elsewhere lingered among many a player’s minds. Obayi decamped to Zoo FC - still in the second tier- in the mid-season of 2014, Akiya would join him six months later after an uneventful spell at Kariobangi Sharks FC. Here, they would begin afresh their quest for promotion, and it did come- three years later. Zoo FC at the time of writing this has just recorded their first two wins in the Kenyan top flight. A shaky seven matches without a win but it did come, finally - against Ulinzi Stars in week 8 of the KPL. Having made just two

signings upon promotion, the faces that toiled for promotion during the NSL 2015 season still don the green of Kericho in the top tier with most of them only having Zoo FC in their professional CV’s - they have simply never known any other club in their playing careers. Nakuru AllStars currently play for promotion in the second tier. Fresher, younger faces who haven’t lost a home match (they have won six out of six matches) -a statistic that brings them closer to the golden boys of 2013. If served well, the blend in composition of this year’s AllStars squad is enough recipe for a promotion challenge. They are the Akiyas, Lawis, Dungas, and the Akengas of the 2017 NSL season. This time though, if they come up, let the stars shine.

‘‘The team that earned promotion had belief in youth. I was not the only teenager in the unit. Elvis Rupia (Nzoia Sugar) and Kennedy Owino (KCB) were a class behind me in school.” Boniface Akenga, Nakumatt FC

‘’Throughout the season we conceded just five goals, and upfront we had forwards who understood the immensity of our targets for that season. Sebastian Muchera and Andati Wilson were firing in goals wherever we went,’’ says Akiya, a utility player who prefers the leftback position. The now defunct West Kenya Sugar and Zoo FC were the toughest nuts to crack at the time, both players admit. So even getting a point away in Kericho and Kakamega was huge for that campaign. ‘’Of course we wanted promotion that year so badly, but we had to be calm and play for it. The two draws we recorded against Zoo and West Kenya away from home each served as a boost because those were the teams to beat during that campaign. Our policy was to never drop a point away and to collect all the points from our home matches,’’ says Obayi - a proud alumnus of Rio Ndong’a High school in Kisii. AllStars made it that year, but the many that made it make it wouldn’t last longer than a year. There was promise that the administration would keep their trust in the lot

Boniface Akenga in his time at Kariobangi Sharks. He earned promotion with team

Follow Fabian Odhiambo on Twitter: @Fabian_Odhiambo

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PROMOTED TWICE

LAWRENCE, AKENGA, AKIYA, OBAYI

JOB OCHIENG’ “...is a promising goalkeeper. He has the basics a normal goalkeeper needs. Ball handling, positioning and reading the game,” Boniface Oluoch 36 soka.co.ke

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STAR ON THE RISE

JOB OCHIENG’

Star on the Rise

“We had a MYSA league game and our goalkeeper failed to show up so I decided to go in between the sticks and relinquish my right back position to someone else. That’s how my goalkeeping career started.” By Vincent Opiyo

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e had a MYSA league game and our goalkeeper failed to show up so I decided to go in between the sticks and relinquish my right back position to someone else. That’s how my goalkeeping career started,” states Job Ochieng’, the current Kakamega High School captain as he opens our feature on Star on the Rise. Ochieng’ born on 26th December, 1998 in Kayole, the outskirts of Nairobi and the last born in a family of three started his footballing career at Kayole based Victory Youth before joining Umoja based Sunrise Soccer Academy in 2010. He featured for Sunrise’s U10, U15 and U16 categories, under the tutelage of Collins Obara who vouches for Job’s bright future.

“You couldn’t tell exactly where his strength was until we fielded him in between the goal post and from then, he became our first choice goalkeeper until today. His humility and urge to achieve has been his pillar. We shall soon have a scarcity in goalkeepers but with proper guidance, Job can be our dependable custodian,” notes Obara, the founder of the academy that hopes to realize sunny days as its name suggests. “He has broken into the ranks of the Kenya U20 from our humble beginnings. In him, we see a better Sunrise, a productive academy, founded in 2007 at Busara grounds but working day and night towards realizing its full potential. He is a true indication that Sunrise will in the near future shine brightly. After sitting for his Kenya Certificate of Primary Examinations (KCPE) at Peter Kibukosya Primary, Obara went out of his way to recommend Job to a footballing school in Kakamega High. His small body stature almost locked him out of a hard-sought opportunity to get a scholarship at the Brenden Mwinamo coached school.

“At Kakamega, they had one of the best young goalkeepers in Timothy Odhiambo and Edwin Mukolwe so we weren’t sure whether Job would be taken in, fortunately he impressed and was admitted in Form One in 2014,” adds Obara. Success seemed to come sooner for Job in his first year at Kakamega as the school managed to reach the finals of the 2014 Airtel Rising Stars national school games in which the Green Commandoes won the title by stopping rivals Kisumu Day by a solitary goal in

“You couldn’t tell exactly where his strength was until we fielded him in between the goal post and from then, he became our first choice goalkeeper until today.” ~ Collins Obara, Sunrise Soccer Academy 38 soka.co.ke


the boys’ final for their tenth title. Job missed out on the 20-man squad, “I wish I could have been among the winning squad but you can’t join high school and break into the first team immediately. I am however happy that I saw my schoolmates lifting the title which I look to nail this year as the school captain.” “It’s a huge responsibility captaining such a big footballing giant regionally but it motivates me to work hard and ensure we achieve what the previous teams didn’t do – winning the East Africa school games,” states the youngster whose side is doing well in the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Division One. School coach Brenden Mwinamo didn’t only see good leadership skills in the player but saw a champion that can be a role model to the rest as they fight to return to the

Top: Mathare United short-stopper Job Ochieng’ in action during the KPL U20 tournament at Camp Toyoyo Above: Mathare celebrating winning the KPL U20 tournament

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STAR ON THE RISE

JOB OCHIENG’

JOB OCHIENG’ FACT FILE Name

Job Ochieng’

DOB

26 December, 1998

2002 - 2013

Peter Kibukosya Primary School

2014 - 2017

Kakamega High School

Previous Teams

Victory Youth Kayole, Sunrise Academy, Umoja, Mathare United U20

Trophies

KPL U20; August - December Edition

“He is a future goalkeeper; he will be one of the best. He is young, aggressive and with him in post, you are so secure.” William Kanu Muluya, Kariobangi Sharks head coach

nationals after a two year hiatus. “Job is a disciplined player. He is both good in class and on the pitch. He is a role model to others because he is a champion. His leadership, we are sure will propel the team to success,” said Mwinamo of the player who won two back-to-back Kenyan Premier League (KPL) U20 titles with Mathare United in 2016. His eye-catching show at the junior tournament attracted national U20 team coaches hence calling him up but his first day in camp ended in a rude shock as he was axed for lack of a passport. “I believe the kind of exposure I got in the U20 tournament helped my inclusion in the national junior team. It was my greatest achievement after two consecutive titles but I just recorded one of my worst moments in life when I was sent home for lack of a passport. I am happy that I succeeded in getting it and returned to work my way up.” “I had a great experience in camp,

working with top goalkeeping coaches in Sunil (Shah) and Haggai (Azande). They sharpened my weakest points like communication and for sure with more hard work, I will achieve my ambition of becoming a top goalkeeper on the continent,” says Job who made his national junior team debut in a 2-0 loss to Senegal in February 2017 and earned his second cap in a 3-2 loss away to Egypt in March 2017. “I learnt from mistakes committed in the two losses. International games come with some sort of pressure and I’m happy it came at a tender age, a good sign that if I keep working hard I will reach the top,” poses Job who looks to Gor Mahia’s Boniface Oluoch and Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer for inspiration. “Job is a promising goalkeeper. He has the basics a normal goalkeeper needs. Ball handling, positioning and reading the game,” says Harambee Stars’ first choice shot-stopper Oluoch.

The former APR and Tusker FC goalie – who has three Kenyan Premier League (KPL) titles under his belt and runs Makongeni Goalkeepers’ Academy said, “we do groom young goalkeepers from the age of seven, I do the training assisted by Peter (Odhiambo) and we are happy to have Job who joins us during holidays.” William Muluya, the Kariobangi Sharks Head Coach is among the best coaches Job says will forever be on his lips. Muluya too had nice words about the player. “He is a future goalkeeper, he will be one of the best. He is young, aggressive and with him in post, you are so secure. On penalties, out of five, be sure that Job will save at least three. For now he should first embrace studies then focus on football after school,” he said.

Follow Vincent Opiyo on Twitter: @vincentsopiyo

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THE BIG INTERVIEW

HILLARY ECHESA

HILLARY ECHESA “I’ve been raised as an orphan, responsibility is the very first lesson you learn when growing up.” By Fabian Odhiambo

I

f you sat down Hillary Echesa today, and asked him how many clubs he has played for, he’ll not answer that- it’s a tough question. Ask him instead, how many club he has not played for. Those ones are countable. So what makes this 36 year old so charming that he comfortably slides into whatever setup available at any club that he joins? Echesa, now in the twilight years of his playing career, is back at Chemelil Sugar FC, for - probably his last stint with the club that first gave him his first Premier League experience at the turn of the 20th century. Hillary how many clubs have you played for? (Laughs hysterically) I knew you’d begin there! To be honest, I can only estimate. 14 maybe 15 clubs overall. You know most of these stints weren’t long-term hence memory fails me. But yes, I have played for many clubs. So in a different life, which of these stints will you never do? (Unflinching) Damascus (In Syria). Just Damascus. See, I’ve even forgotten the name of the club

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I played for there. Those were the worst three months of my footballing career. From language barrier to outright discrimination due to skin color. I have never felt so disappointed in my life. I won’t even mention the food there. But you’ve been to other Asian countries before; you mean to say there was some difference? Yes there was. Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia were easy to cope in and I even learnt a few words from their local dialect to help me get by. Not to say they were entirely accommodative but they were nice people, that’s why I lasted longer as compared to my stint in Damascus.

(U12, U14, U15). It was then easier for him to rope me in at Transcom in 1997, but I wouldn’t last long.

Okay let’s go back to where the real story begins. At what age did you find yourself in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL)? I was sixteen, still a form two student in Nakuru when the late coach Sammy Abida gave me my debut for Transcom. Prior to that, it was the same coach, Abida, who had nurtured a few others and myself at the Nakuru Youth Olympic Centre

You went abroad that young? No, it was actually Chemelil Sugar FC who came calling the moment I sat my secondary school examinations. At around this period I also got the chance to don the national team colours. I had been selected to join the Harambee Stars Under 17 team. That was 1999, the very first time I boarded an airplane (smilling, elated at this memory). Tom Olaba


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THE BIG INTERVIEW and Mickey Weche were part of the Technical Bench then and we lost to Mozambique 1-0 in Maputo then they came to Kenya and forced a 1-1 draw in Nakuru. We bowed out, but I had boarded a plane at 17. Succession is always a tricky bit with our game. How many players from that under 17 squad made it to the senior national team later on? It’s a sad memory that fails me once again but I vividly remember Jamal Mohamed from the contingent that travelled to Maputo. A few years later though, Coach Reinhardt Fabisch overhauled the senior national team and brought in more than a dozen youngsters. I was one of them and so

HILLARY ECHESA

was Dennis Oliech. Our first senior international match was against the Taifa Stars of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam and we walloped them 5-0. In the next match, also a friendly tie, we lost 3-0 to Nigeria away but it was a very huge experience. So that was you leaving the country on a national errand. Which was your destination when you finally opted to pursue professional stints across the boarders? Rayon Sport in Rwanda. By this time I had been turning out for Mumias Sugar FC in 2005. That was before Coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee came to join our rivals APR as head coach. I had left though by the

time he was heading to Rwanda. Where to? I got an invitation from Malaysia for a two week trial. There were five of us; Eric Muranda, John Baraza, Abdi Simba, Francis Chinjili and myself. Police de Raja Malaysia (PDRM) was our destination and after the two weeks trials, I got myself a contract at the club. My countrymen did not make it to join PDRM but landed opportunities from other clubs in the country. How did that feel? Five of you and only you make it with PDRM. It didn’t feel good but when they landed contracts with other clubs

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from around I still felt happy for them. After doing six months of my contract with the club my coach told me that he needed strikers so through my agent I invited Baraza and Bernard Mwalala to come stay with me while the coach checked them in training. Luckily for them they were also signed. So you had an agent that early? Of course I had one (chuckles). Okay I admit at that time most players didn’t really take the issue of agents seriously but I did. Through Muranda, I got to know of one Ahmad who turned out to be very trustworthy. Whenever he got a deal somewhere he would send me air tickets so that I could go check the terms that a particular club were offering.

of my own, that’s when I married and settled down, still in Nakuru.

You’ve had just one agent throughout your career? Yes. He’s been just one. You see, when you have both agreed to certain terms and have them written down, then when a deal is made and both of you honor your parts as per the contract, everything goes on just fine. I never wronged him in any way neither did he wrong me. Failure to honor these pre-contracts and contracts between players and agents is usually the main cause of break-ups.

Tell us about your brief stint at Ulinzi Stars. I had a good time at Ulinzi

Talking of honoring contracts and break-ups, when should a pro footballer settle down? (Laughs) I don’t believe there’s a standard age for any footballer to settle down and have a family because we are brought up differently. Personally, I’ve been raised as an orphan so responsibility is the very first lesson you learn when growing up. The first thing I did with some good money (Ksh 20,000) from the national team was to buy myself a cubicle. I wanted to have my own place, and yes I was still a teenager playing for Chemelil. It was one of those rented out by the Municipal Council in Nakuru so I left a friend to stay there while I did my football in Chemelil. I was just proud to have my own place that young. From the cubicle I moved to a one-bedroom house that I still rented from the Municipal Council. In 2006 after finally building a house

What if I want to settle down before I build my own house? Still fine. Responsibility is key. As soon as you start earning some money from football and you feel you need someone to help you put it into proper investments, you can find yourself a companion who’ll help you make sound decisions with the income. Before I married, I would buy pieces of land randomly even though I still lived at a rented place. These investments came in handy when I was now building my own home. Actually, one single piece of land footed all the bills for construction of my house.

even though brief. You were a soldier right? Yes I was. What happened? Okay, I got a trial invite from Indonesia but the army had really strict rules. That was my time and I so badly wanted to play football so I sneaked out of the country to go for trials. Luck was not on my side during the trials and upon returning to Ulinzi, my letter of suspension was ready. I have to say though that this is a period I don’t regret. I just wanted to play football. The suspension letter wasn’t the end of your journey I believe? Of course it wasn’t, the Tanzanian experience was yet to come. Probably the best stint I’ve done outside the country. I joined Edwin Mukenya,

“Failure to honor pre-contracts and contracts between players and agents is the main cause of break-ups.“

Echesa celebrates his winner against Bandari at a past league tie soka.co.ke 45


THE BIG INTERVIEW Bernard Mwalala and Mike Baraza at Young Africans (Yanga). Just one season with them and I was off (bursts into laughter). Yeah that’s just me, I’m a traveler. I did well at Yanga and got a better offer abroad so I went. But as fate had it, a few years later, I would return to Tanzania (smiles knowingly). That smile means something juicy is coming. What necessitated your second stint in Tanzania? It’s actually funny what happened. Having done well for Yanga a few years back, they invited me over probably to offer me a fresh deal. So I traveled to Dar knowing I was going to Yanga. In the evening, Baraza (Mike) who was still playing in Tanzania visited me and took me to a few Simba SC officials, told me there was a deal like never before. That’s how I ended up donning the red of Simba at my second coming to Tanzania. The funniest bit is that Mike was still playing for Yanga. Now that is funny, but not as funny as you scoring the winner against Yanga a few months later when you guys met for the Dar-Derby. Tell us about it. Feels like yesterday to be honest. I have played in many countries but that atmosphere in the National Stadium Dar es Salaam is something you can only feel in Dar alone. The match was tight. I was with Jerry Santos and Mike Baraza who had joined me in Simba and we trailed Yanga three times in that match. They would score and we would equalize. This went on till the scores stood at 3-3. Then it happened. Ugandan Emmanuel Okwi had done the donkey work when he laid the ball square to my right foot and I made no mistake. It honestly didn’t feel right when it left my foot but it went in all the same. I felt like the roof was coming down when I scored

HILARY ECHESA

that winner in the 89th minute. I celebrated by removing my shirt and boy I was on a yellow card already. The red card did come but the match ended even before I could reach the dressing rooms. So I forgot about my card and came back into the field to celebrate that huge win. So Kenyans can succeed in Tanzania after all? Of course we can, it’s all in the mind. Tanzanians take their football seriously and most of our players in the present day are distracted easily. Check the list of the Kenyans who played in Tanzania during my time all successful in that league. You know once you sign for Yanga or Simba you become an instant celebrity on Tanzania. They are also people who thrive on showbiz, newspapers come out every few hours so as a player if you’re not careful with what you do with your time you can find yourself on the wrong footing with the media. Focus is all one needs to play in that league. Boniface Ambani did not score that many goals for nothing. He knew his business in Tanzania was football and nothing else.

Hillary Echesa and Walter Odede train with the National team in the past

Greatest opponent you’ve faced and why? Titus Mulama. Matches against Mathare United were tough. That player was gifted. The best player you’ve ever played alongside? Why? Musa Otieno. He was a leader. Made the first professional move when we were still here in Kenya but that never changed him much, still remained the same old Musa. We all looked up to him.

“Ugandan Emmanuel Okwi laid the ball square to my right foot and I made no mistake. It honestly didn’t feel right, but it went in all the same.” Follow Fabian Odhiambo on Twitter: @Fabian_Odhiambo

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THE BIG INTERVIEW

HILARY ECHESA

HILLARY ECHESA FACT FILE

Egypt U23

1

COACHES PLAYED UNDER

Kuwait U23

1 3

Name

Games

D.O.B

9 September 1981

Tanzania

Height

5’ 9”

Uganda

1

Midfielder

Tunisia

1

Jacob Ghost Mulee

4, 4 (U23)

Position

Angola

1

Antoine Hey

2

Malawi

1

Mickey Weche

1

Rwanda

1

Twahir Muhidin

1, 1 (U23)

Jordan

1

Mohammed Kheri 1, 1 (U17)

Nigeria

2

Tom Olaba

2

Burkina Faso U23

1

Total

21

Total

15

NATIONAL TEAMS Category

Caps

Kenya U17

1

Kenya U23

5

Kenya

15

Total

21

NATURE OF GAME - KENYA

CLUB CAREER 2001-2003

Chemelil Sugar

2003-2005

Ulinzi Stars

2005-2006

Mumias Sugar

2006

Rayon Sport (Rwanda), Young Africans – Yanga (Tanzania)

Reinhardt Fabisch 4

Friendly

8

World Cup qualifier

3

Africa Cup of 1 Nations qualifier Gamhouria Tournament

3

Total

15

2006-2008

PDRM (Malaysia)

2008-2009

Deltras (Indonesia

Achievements

2010

Simba SC (Tanzania)

Club

Title

Year

2011

Tusker (Kenya)

Ulinzi Stars

Kenyan Premier League

2003/4

2012

MP Maur (Malaysia)

Ulinzi Stars

Kenyan Premier League

2004/5

2013

NS Betaria F.C. (Malaysia)

Young Africans (Yanga)

Tanzania Premier League

2006

2013

Sofapaka

PDRM (Malaysia)

Liga Premier

2007

2014

Chemelil Sugar

Simba SC

Tanzania Premier League

2009/10

2015

Nakuru AllStars

Tusker

Kenyan Premier League

2011

2016-2017

Chemelil Sugar

2017 June to date

Sofapaka

INTERNATIONAL CAREER Date

Game

Team

Venue

Coach

Debut

4 May 2002

Friendly

Nigeria

Surulele Stadium, Lagos

Reinhardt Fabisch

Last game

14 Nov 2009 2010 World Cup/AFCON qualifier

Nigeria

Moi Stadium, Kasarani

Twahir Muhidin

TEAM PLAYED AGAINST Kenya U17 Mozambique

1

Total

1

Kenya U23 Rwanda

1

Somalia

2

South Africa

1

Total

4

Kenya Iran 48 soka.co.ke

1

Span 7 years, 6 months, 11 days


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HABIBA’s

Story of hope through Sport for Development “As refugees we are known for literally begging for everything, but people here are learning to be independent.” soka.co.ke 49


WOMEN FOOTBALL

HABIBA RAMADHAN

“I have always wanted to play football even before I came to Kenya, but in Somalia that is not a path you can easily take as a girl because it was considered a man’s sport.” Habiba Ramadhan By Terry Ouko

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he waited until the night fell, a sudden sense of fear rushed through her nerves like a chill of an icy wind, engulfed in fear of what else could befall her in the midst of the glaring war that broke out in Somalia. Civilians had access to arsenal to fight against the militia hence villagers fled to avoid being caught up in the aggression. Habiba Ramadhan would embark on a journey that left her wandering along the Kenya/ Somali border, fleeing the waves of conflict as she dodged gun fire in search of a safe haven to settle in. Kenya is home for thousands of refugees who have been in similar situations, forcing them to trudge wearily through the road of uncertainty. That is just the beginning of a new life that in this case took off without family and friends. Asylum in Kakuma In 2004 after passing through security checks, Habiba and her first born son found asylum in Kakuma Refugee camp where aid agencies like Lutheran World Foundation (LWF) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provide emergency supplies and access to health care among other immediate needs. As all her life goals and prior expectations slowly went down the drain, she had one last glimmer of hope through her undying passion for football. However, she bemoaned the lack of freedom of movement since they are forbidden to leave the camp without a permit. On the contrary, she was freed from the bondage of cultural and religious barriers back in her country. Playing in the dusty rocky fields of Kakuma, not even the harsh weather and high temperatures in the semiarid area barred her from doing

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what she loves the most; playing football. As a refugee woman, the agony she went through due to her status clouds her with undefined sadness. Experiencing terrible things like being beaten ruthlessly as the assailants took advantage of her, are part of the chilling encounters she had to rise above before taking up her role of a coach and a mediator in Sport for Development. It is a Wednesday evening; 4.42pm EAT to be precise, but the heat and the scorching sun will not bar Habiba from training her team - Peace Girls who are already warming up as they await the drill sessions. Armed with

“Habiba’s story is one of immense struggle and the fact that she did not despair and held on for this long chasing her passion is incredible.” Evelyne Ajing her Sport for Development Africa (S4DA) pocket drill book, a whistle and a head gear to compliment her training attire she starts by apologizing for being late. She is from overseeing a selection process for girls that will take part in the Kakuma Premier League (KPL) which has been running for one season but is now inclusive of a 16-team Women’s side. The piercing look in my eye pushes her to give a brief explanation about her attire, because ladies donning hijab on the playing field is unusual. “I have always wanted to play football even before I came to Kenya, but in Somalia that is not a path you can easily take as a girl because it

was considered a man’s sport. Even just being seen in shorts playing would land me in trouble, but I respect that because it is our way of doing things. That is why I always cover myself well when playing, starting from my hair. I do that all the time even off the pitch so it is not a problem at all, it is our culture.” Capacity building After an intensive session, I notice a sense of capacity building with each drill bearing a life skill lesson on conflict resolution which is done prior and after the training session. It is very interactive and fun not only due to the organization and competitive nature of the drill, but also because of the sole fact that the players can relate with them since it is a conflict zone. She is clearly facing a tidal wave of challenges, and as she concludes the training, we notice that some girls are arriving late for the session. Normally a player would face stern warnings, endless questioning and even punishment in such cases - but not in Habiba’s team. She holds a small talk with players and urges them to come a little early in the next training session, calmly reminding them that the league will commence in a few weeks. We sit down at the pitch side, and I realize that there is more than meets the eye in the refugee camp as she explains the drills. Occasionally, though a rarity in Kakuma, water floods in the eroded gullies and in the worst case scenarios sweeping away people, houses and animals. At the time of our interview a seven year old boy had just died while playing in the water. It probably felt like paradise after going without rain for a long period of time though it ended in tragedy. But why am I bringing this up? The gullies serve a different purpose when it is dry and in most cases teenage girls and boys use them as hiding areas for drug abuse, robbery among others. Habiba therefore encourages the youth take up a sport or join other activities in the Kakuma Youth Centre where


she is a facilitator. She has four girls teams and two under 12 boys’ teams. “The girls sometimes don’t attend sessions because their parents want them to stay at home and do chores, while others are just adamant that football for their children is not helpful. I am sometimes forced to go and talk to their parents, and convince them that playing does not harm their kids but instead helps keep them active so as to avoid societal ills in the gullies. At one time our best player was barred from attending one of the peace tournaments, which was a big blow for the team. Afterwards the parents allowed her after several visits and she emerged the best player both in the tournament and even at the school ball games. This is the reason I don’t punish the late comers, neither do I force them to attend practice every day because I know it is still a challenge for some girls except in schools.” Dealing with conflict The 39 year old is often braced for the conflicts that arise in the training sessions as well as in the community. She is always prepared to deal with the cases when they arise after attending various coaching courses offered by LWF through the youth centre’s, and an instructor’s course by GIZ Sport for Development in Africa (S4DA) that honed her skills on Football for Violence Prevention and Peace Promotion. Being one of the proactive coaches in charge of implementing the activities in the area, she feels that a huge responsibility to promote peaceful co-existence rests on her shoulders. Previously she could only coach the women and the kids and not the men, since they would look down on her because she is a woman. However all that has changed, and coaching both genders is not a problem anymore now that she has the expertise. The level of respect is what thrills her since for a long time it has been lacking. To her changing the kids’ mindset in training trickles

down to their parents, siblings, friends and the community at large hence her persistence. “Here fights start even in the middle of a training session, so as a coach I have to be able deal with it in time. In the past, it has always been caused by the difference in tribes. The camp consists of Somalis, Southern

a laborer. Did she know that a few months later she would be on the run again? Probably not in her wildest dreams, but she would hit the road running, away from her employer who was now forcing her into becoming a commercial sex worker just as she was trying to settle into her new football club, Mombasa Railways.

“I am sometimes forced to go and talk to their parents and convince them that playing does not harm their kids but instead helps keep them active so as to avoid societal ills in the gullies.” Sudanese and Ethiopian refugees and it was not easy to find a mixed team. The teams would always be assembled along racial lines but lately the teams are an assortment of different races and tribes. In my team for instance, that’s the case and sometimes when a Somali kid injures a Sudanese it turns into a big fight because the other players of her kind will gang up in solidarity. But the new S4DA style teaches about the role of a coach as a mediator in conflict resolution, and this has minimized most of the cases not only in the field but also in the community. You will see your children mingling with friends and teammates from the other tribes and wonder why you cannot do that as adults.” Gender-based Violence Prior to her move to Kakuma in 2002, Habiba lived with a well-wisher in Likoni, Mombasa as she worked as

“It was not easy making it to the refugee camp so I chose to work to raise my transport money. I first lived in Mombasa but it was a tough period, since I was with my first born son who I gave birth to after I was raped during the war in Somalia,” she stated as she broke down in tears. “The woman who took me in promised to give me a job so that I can take care of my needs while I stayed with her. At first it was great and I discovered a team that was training in Mombasa, Makande area at the Railways Club. It felt good to be able to play again and I knew well that I would continue playing even after giving birth. I was amazed by the talent there, and some of the players were in the national team, and the ones I remember most are Amina Chitra and Lilian Nandudu,” she reminisces. Just when she thought she was out the woods, the young mother’s life was in turmoil, reminding her of her last ordeal before she fled her country when the militants took advantage of her. But as they say little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortunes, but great minds rise above it. She has therefore started a campaign on creating awareness in the camp on Gender Based Violence and sexual abuse that affects both women and young boys in the refugee community. Her role, she says, is to instill confidence in the youth, so that they are able to speak out and seek help without fear of the soka.co.ke 51


WOMEN FOOTBALL victimization and stigma that arise. “All went well but months later, my employer asked that I stop helping with house duties and start working as a prostitute to earn more money and I had to leave. I had saved enough, and that’s how I found someone who recommended the Kakuma refugee camp. Through my experience, I felt the need to start a campaign in the camp to create awareness on how to prevent and deal with rape cases since it can happen to anyone. I handle a lot of affected girls who at some point chose to keep quiet about it, because some offenders are family members who threaten to harm them if they speak out. We have football drills that are designed to build confidence, enhance communication and those that show safe spaces ensuring the players get a wealth of knowledge at the end of the sessions. The progress is great and the cases have dropped since one of our agenda at the Youth Centre is to help the victims out, walk them through the procedure of going to hospital and refer them to counselors.”

HABIBA RAMADHAN

their best players. I did not know that we would meet again but thanks to football, I had a chance to facilitate an instructor’s course and I was impressed by her growth. Her story is one of immense struggle and just the fact that she did not despair and held on for this long chasing her passion is incredible. She is doing a great job by using football to promote peace in the refugee community and I am happy that she turned her dark past into a beautiful story of hope for the future,” said Ajing, who is a Consultant at GIZ Sports for Development. Mariam Juma a football coach of a different team in Kakuma talks about her encounter with Habiba and it goes to show she is a model they look up to, terming her an inspiration. The 24 year old woman is not training but is watching the training session at the periphery in a bid to pick a few coaching tips. “As a woman refugee it is sometimes hard to cope when you have lost all hope. I came to the camp in 2014 and just when I was trying to make a life for myself I met Habiba who has been here for a long time. She introduced me to the Kakuma Youth

Playing stint In 2008 and 2010 the first ladies team “We have football drills that are in the refugee camp designed to build confidence, enhance - Kakuma Girls FC was formed, Habiba communication and those that show safe being one of the spaces ensuring the players get a wealth of pioneers and a dependable player knowledge at the end of the sessions.” in the squad. Once in a while they attended football Centre and my life started taking matches that were organized by the shape again. Apart from coaching I Mathare Youth Sports Association played football but I have now taken (MYSA). Coincidentally, one of the a break to concentrate on coaching. Mathare United Women’s team I at once diverted my attention to players then, Evelyne Ajing would organizing and training kids for be her Coaching Instructor a decade drama festivals but she still gave later during the Germany Deutshe me a heads up whenever there Gasellschaft fur Intanationale were coaching courses. I believe Zusammernarbeit (GIZ) Sport for that she is a strong woman and is Development Coaching Course in well conversant with how to shape 2015. She says it was amazing to the youth using football not only meet her again in the football circles. because she is talented, but she is a natural leader we can all emulate. “As a player at Mathare United Ladies I had an opportunity to play against She still plays football and runs like Kakuma Girls, and Habiba was one of a teenager in the tournament for 52 soka.co.ke

the women’s team which is amazing, since sometimes it’s a challenge keeping fit when you are approaching 40. I like watching her training sessions just to learn more from her since to many girls and women here she is an inspiration and gives us a sense of hope,” Mariam remarked. Women’s League Habiba is one of the organizers and frontiers of the upcoming Kakuma Football League for Girls that is set to commence in May. It will constitute both refugee and host community teams and she has set her sights on an expanded version of the maiden league that offers only 16 slots. She is also positive that more opportunities are opening up for women and the initiative will also help transform the delinquent youth in the camp. “As refugees we are known for literally begging for everything, but people here are learning to be independent. Apart from coaching I keep small businesses on the side and work at the youth center on various projects, most of which are voluntary but have since been a spring board in my coaching career. Last year’s league was only for the men but it is sponsored by various organizations. I look forward to a successful season and the only challenge will be selecting two girls’ teams to register from the available four,” she concluded. Follow Terry Ouko on Twitter: @Terry_Ouko


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INTERVIEW

VICTOR ONYANGO

Victor Onyango The forgotten safe pair of hands By Jeff Kinyanjui

M

agic 90, a famous team in Eastlands in the 80s and 90’s was training at the Camp Toyoyo one hot afternoon long before the introduction of artificial pitches in Kenya. One of the custodians did not show up on that particular day and a young Victor Onyango, playing at left back, was, requested by the famous coach, the late Leonard Otieno Omar aka Oty Father, to try out in goal. And that is how the career of arguably one of the best goalkeepers Kenya has ever produced started. They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, and that is exactly what Mkolo, as he commonly referred to by his peers, did. Interestingly enough, just before his football journey kicked off, Victor had worked as waiter at the Carnivore in Nairobi after finishing his O-Level studies at Nyabondo High School. He quit after a year to pursue his passion – football. He did so well as goalkeeper at Magic 90 and Rishadi Shedu, then a head coach at Super League side Alaskan signed him up in 1995. At just the age of 20, his first match at the Malindi-based side was to be against Kenya Breweries FC, a powerhouse in Kenyan football then. This is a match he would however not last in the pitch as he was substituted in the first few minutes after trying a flashy move that did not go well with coach Rishadi Shedu.

“I was convinced he would become a great goalkeeper and when I was appointed as the Alaskan Head Coach I signed him up immediately.” ~ Rishadi Shedu

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INTERVIEW

VICTOR ONYANGO

Confidence But as the experienced coach says he later on regretted the move when he understood Victor well and his qualities. “He is definitely the most confident goalkeeper I have ever had in all the teams I have coached. He gave me goose bumps in his first competitive match for Alaskan when he received a back pass and took on the advancing Vincent Kwarula and I had to immediately sub him, I couldn’t take any more of that. However as I came to understand him, I realized confidence was an integral part of his game,” Shedu tells Soka. “For a while I watched him play with the best players at Jericho who were way older than him but he stood out. He was very good with the ball at his feet and could even pull some daring saves as a young goalkeeper. I was convinced he would become a great goalkeeper and when I was appointed as the Alaskan Head Coach I signed him up immediately. He went straight into my starting lineup and within just a season we finished fourth – an achievement that Victor contributed to greatly,” he adds.

Mashemeji Derby as an Ingwe keeper. “My move to AFC from Gor Mahia wasn’t smooth, just as I expected. From my family to friends, they considered me as a traitor while on my end it was just another career move to secure my future. AFC at that time had a very good goalkeeper in Mohammed Fwaya and the competition made me a better player. However I never made it to any match day squad to face Gor Mahia during my time at Ingwe, mainly because I was a Luo playing for a Luhya club and they couldn’t trust me – funny but sad at the same time.” Tusker move In 2000, Victor Onyango again packed his bags and joined Tusker

FC and this is where he settled down completely and enjoyed football until he retired in 2008. “This period was my best as a footballer as I settled down and enjoyed playing. Tusker was a good club and everything was set up professionally. Unlike all the other clubs I had played for, we never experienced financial challenges and therefore I was happy and enjoyed my eight years at the club,” he says. Jacob Ghost Mulee who coached him both at Tusker FC and Harambee Stars describes Victor as an intelligent custodian. “He is one of the most intelligent goalkeepers I have ever worked with. He is a good reader of the game and this enabled him to play as a

The former Kenyan international says his first year at Alaskan played a great role in shaping and strengthening him to become a top goalkeeper. “I went to Malindi as a very young goalkeeper and life wasn’t easy at all. I was away from my family and we used to stay in a small room with John Baresi Odhiambo and Robert Ochan Olang. The pay too was very little and the fact that I was from Nairobi made it even more difficult. However these challenges pushed me to train harder and improve as a player and just after a season I was approached by Sony Sugar FC and I joined them in 1996.” he says. From Gor Mahia to AFC Leopards He did not last long at Sony as Gor Mahia FC soon approached him in 1997 and he obliged. Again bitter rivals AFC Leopards, who had wooed him for a while managed to finally convince him to join them in 1999. He however never got to feature in any 56 soka.co.ke

Victor training with Tusker FC in the past

“My move to AFC from Gor Mahia wasn’t smooth just as I expected

sweeper too. He’s got a very good left foot and he dealt with back passes perfectly and initiated swift counter attacks,” Ghost remembers. “He however had a problem in dealing with crosses but was very good on one on one situations. Good goalkeepers have crazy characters and raw guts and that is exactly what Victor was,” he adds.


Victor Onyango Fact File Personal DOB

9 February 1966

Schools

Rabai Rd Primary School Nyabondo High School

About

Once a left back before goalkeeper

Nature of Games Type

Games

CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup

12

Friendly

9

Castle Cup

3

Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier

5

World Cup Qualifier

1

Total

30

Coaches and games played

Football 1996-1998

Gor Mahia

Coach

Nationality

Games

1999

AFC Leopards

Twahir Muhidin

Kenya

3

2000-2004

Tusker

Christian Chukwu

Nigeria

1

2005

KCB

Jacob Ghost Mulee

Kenya

6

2006-2007

Tusker

James Sianga

Kenya

11

2008

Gor Mahia

Mickey Weche

Kenya

1

Reinhardt Fabisch

Germany

7

Abdul Majid

Uganda

1

Coaching Journey 2016

Gor Mahia keeper trainer

2017

Nairobi City Stars keeper trainer

Countries played against

Total

30

Achievements Club

Title

Year

Tusker

Kenyan Premier League

1999, 2000, 2007

Tusker

CECAFA Club Championship

2000, 2001, 2008

Country

Games

Burundi

2

Djibouti

1

Tusker

Player of the Year

2001

Egypt

2

Gor Mahia

FKL Cup

2008

Eritrea

2

Country

Title

Year

Ethiopia

1

Kenya

Castle Cup

2002

Gabon

2

Kenya

2002

Lesotho

1

CECAFA Senior challenge Cup

Malawi

1

Morocco

2

Rwanda

1

Somalia

1

Sudan

2

Swaziland

2

Tanzania

3

Tunisia

2

Uganda

5

Total

30

International Career Date

Game

Team

Venue

Coach

Debut

15 Aug 1998 2000 *As a 71 min Africa Cup sub for Mathew Qualifiers Ottamax Owino

Djibouti

Kasarani

Abdul Majid

Last game

25 Dec 2004

Sudan

National Stadium, Addis Ababa

Twahir Muhidin

CECAFA Senior challenge Cup

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INTERVIEW

VICTOR ONYANGO

Goalkeeper trainer Victor Onyango, who has been capped 30 times by the national team, was immediately absorbed by Tusker as their goalkeeper trainer. His first assignment was with the Brewers in Dar es Salaam as they won the CECAFA Club Championship in 2008 with his successor between the sticks, Boniface Oluoch, particularly impressive – no wonder he picks him as his best custodian in the country at the moment. “I knew Boniface very well from his days at KCB FC and I had always liked his confidence and reaction. I recommended him to Tusker but there was a problem since he was then attached to APR in Rwanda. However Ghost Mulee talked to APR and convinced the club to

“I rate Boniface Oluoch as the best goalkeeper in the country at the moment and I’m glad he is still playing at the highest level.” ~ Victor Onyango release him and we immediately signed him. He joined the team in Dar and started as we took on Vital O Burundi in the third match and we coincidentally lost 3-0.” “Immediately after the match Ghost came to me and before he could even say anything I told him I had confidence in Oluoch, we should trust and start him in our next match. He didn’t let me down and played his heart out in all the other matches as we went on to win the tournament.”

Victor Onyango during a training session with Harambee Stars at Kasarani ahead of an AFCON qualifier against Gabon in 2001

Nairobi City Stars. He advices young players to invest as football now pays well unlike during his playing days.

“I rate him as the best goalkeeper in the country at the moment and I’m glad he is still playing at the highest level,” Victor says of his understudy.

Life after football “We have players earning very well nowadays and my advice to them would be to ensure they invest wisely. Former Harambee Stars goalkeeper Noah Ayuko was in the news recently in bad shape and is really struggling. This is happening to many former players and it’s not good at all. Current players can only pick lessons from it and invest wisely since there is life after football.” he says.

Victor left Tusker in 2010 to join Gor Mahia in the same capacity and later Nzoia Sugar FC in 2013 and FC Talanta in 2014. He is now attached to National Super League (NSL) side

The toughest striker he has ever played against? “It has to be Bernard Agunda. We grew up together in Jericho and he knew me so well and he would give me a hard time

when he played for Utalii and Kenya Breweries FC. He was very powerful and good technically and I was happy when we became team mates at Tusker FC since I knew he wouldn’t torment me anymore.” Victor Onyango, who is now working on modalities of starting a goalkeeping academy with fellow former Kenyan international Mathews Ottamax, signs out by urging the Government to invest heavily in developing sports infrastructure as the industry (sports) has the potential to become a big revenue earner as well as shaping the destiny of the youth and the country as well, in so many ways.

Follow Jeff Kinyanjui on Twitter: @Nyash88

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KPL

BEST ELEVEN

HOGGING THE HEADLINES KPL Half Time Report From the little known Daniel Waweru to the current Most Valuable Player, Kenneth Muguna, who made a mark in the first leg of the KPL 2017 season By Zachary Oguda

T

he 2017 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) season saw the introduction of an additional four teams to the usual 14 teams to bring the number to 18. Among the new entrants were Nakumatt FC, Kariobangi Sharks, Zoo Kericho and Nzoia United.

After 13 rounds by the close of May, the league took a break to return in mid June. Which players were exemplary? Who stood out?

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www.soka.co.ke Patrick Matasi, Goalkeeper (Posta Rangers FC) Bagging the Golden Glove accolade comes with a share of pressure but Matasi has handled this well and is on course of winning the accolade for the second successive season. Not only has he featured in all Rangers games so far, he has only conceded five goals and reduced his understudy, Farouk Shikhalo, who had an exemplary season with Muhoroni Youth in 2016, to a mere spectator. Rangers will be depending on him to mount a serious challenge for a top three finish. Michael Bodo, Defender (Kariobangi Sharks FC) When it was confirmed that Kariobangio Sharks would be playing in the KPL, many questions arose whether they were going to cope with the vagaries of the league more so after venturing into roping in attacking players rather than defenders. Their fears were realized when they were humbled by Gor Mahia 3-1 in their first game of the KPL top flight. Bodo had a debut to forget against Gor Mahia and was to miss the club’s next two games due to injury; games they lost. Bodo returned to the starting team in the club’s week four against Nzoia Sugar; a game they comfortably won. Bodo has gone on not only to prove he can cut it in the KPL but that he is a cut above most other defenders. Musa Mohammed, Defender (Gor Mahia FC) Imagine Gor Mahia without Musa Mohammed. Being handed the armband comes with a share of responsibility but Musa has handled this well. He has played every minute of every Gor Mahia league game almost effortlessly forming a solid partnership with the excellent Harun Shakava. Commanding in the air, tough in the tackle and composed on the ball. The change to a back three seems to have not affected his influence in the game and he seems to have perfectly slotted into any formation Ze Maria has preferred for his defenders.


KPL

BEST ELEVEN

Joakins Atudo, Defender (Posta Rangers FC) If Matasi is going to win any award this season, he will have his defense to thank. Atudo has not only been a leader for the Sammy Omollo-coached side but has been a towering figure for the mail men in defense. He remains dominant in duels, his positioning and reading of matches have evolved enormously and his consistency is now exemplary. His new partnership with Luke Ochieng, roped in from Gor Mahia in the season must be lauded.

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Shafiq Batambuze, Defender (Tusker FC) It’s sad that the KPL will be waving goodbye to one of the finest defenders to ever have graced the 254. Batambuze had a stellar 2016 season with the brewers and carried the form into the new season and despite a slow start this year, he has been an important player for the boys in yellow and a key figure in their current resurgence where he has chipped in with three goals and four assists. He is set to join Singida United in Tanzania and all we can do is wish him the best in his endeavors.


Hillary Echesa, Midfielder (Chemelil FC) As stars of yesteryears continue to diminish, Hillary Echesa has continued to roll back the years with some exemplary performances for Chemelil Sugar. New managers will always come with new ideas and a change of players will always be inevitable but Echesa has reminded everyone that he is still flexible to fit into any new systems. He has been radiant this season; more dynamic and powerful than ever and his three goals return shows that he still hasn’t lost his scoring touch. Kenneth Muguna, Midfielder (Gor Mahia FC) Many believe that winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the KPL is a bad omen but Muguna is proving otherwise. Not only has he continued with his form that saw him torment opponents at Stima, his vision and urge to affect play has massively grown. He might need more gym sessions to improve his physical part of the game but Gor Mahia has looked lost without the slim maestro. He has forged a particularly delightful understanding with Ernest Wendo, as memorably showcased in the destruction of AFC Leopards, but even when paired with other midfielders, Muguna has kept probing and tearing opponents apart. Daniel Waweru, Midfielder (Ulinzi Stars FC) This is a surprise inclusion that many did not see coming but any midfielders dream is to provide assists and Waweru currently tops that list. Of the 18 goals Ulinzi Stars have scored so far,

Waweru has been involved in nine; three goals and six assists. He is one player whose contribution on the field of play may go unnoticed but is happy to work his socks off for his team mates. Boniface Omondi, Midfielder (Nzoia United FC) Many players often struggle in their first season in the top flight but Bonface Omondi has ensured that he doesn’t appear in that list. Taking the league by storm in the first few weeks, Omondi has tormented his opponents in many games and apart from assisting goals which is his main work, an area in which he has three, he has helped in banging the goals too- with five to his name. He has the wisdom to serve as the ideal fulcrum for attacks. Underrate the man roped in from Agro Chemicals in the off season at your own peril Paul Odhiambo, Forward (Sofapaka FC) Sofapaka escaped relegation by a whisker in 2016 thanks to some notable figures in the team; Paul Odhiambo being one of them. The player has chipped in with three goals and two assists for the Batoto ba Mungu and his output in every game has been second to none. The work rate of the KPL journeyman too can’t be wished away and in a season where Sofapaka has started steadily, he will surely be needed to continue with his output as the season progresses. Stephen Waruru, Forward (Ulinzi Stars FC) You can’t argue with seven goals in 10 games. In a season that many thought Samuel Onyango might have been the guy to propel Ulinzi Stars to the next level, Waruru has been a royal pain in the head for opposing defenders by scoring all type of goals. His speed, endeavor and sharpness help make the soldiers lethal on the counterattack, and he will surely be a key member for the Ulinzi team heading into the latter stages of the season. MAY/JUNE 2017 SOKA MAGAZINE

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KPL Substitutes: David Juma, Goalkeeper (Kakamega Homeboyz) Has played eight games this season for the Mike Mururi side and has kept a clean sheet in all the games; what else do you need from an understudy?

BEST ELEVEN

more so from the goal scoring front. Of the 12 goals that the Shopkeepers have scored this season, Aswani has chipped in with six; now that’s a dependable player for a team!

Bolton Omwenga, Defender (Kariobangi Sharks FC) As a debutant in the demanding KPL, he has made the left back position his own and received a national team call up during the same period. He is an asset too in set pieces as proved in his goal against his former side Nzoia Sugar FC in week four of league action. Ernest Wendo, Midfielder (Gor Mahia FC) Destroyer In Chief. When the awe all season has been on Kenneth Muguna in midfielder, the work Wendo does in destroying opposition moves hasn’t gone unnoticed. One of the most underrated players in the league. Humphrey Mieno, Midfielder (Tusker FC) When in panic, just pass the ball to Mieno; that’s some silent rule in the Tusker FC team. Not only does he control the tempo of the game but not so many players in the KPL can read the game as well as Mieno. Gilberto Faimenyo, Striker (AFC Leopards SC) The potency of the former Hearts of Oak striker is well noted. In a turbulent season that has seen them drift further down the table, AFC Leopards can firmly point to the Ghanaian as one of their major positive buys. His record of five goals speaks for itself. Twice, he saved his side the blushes after striking late for a share of spoils against Posta Rangers in Nakuru and Zoo FC in Machakos. Kepha Aswani, Striker (Nakumatt FC) Many thought Aswani’s career was on the line after ditching AFC Leopards for Nakumatt but he has so far proved that he still has unfinished business 64 soka.co.ke

Follow Zachary Oguda on Twitter: @zaxoguda


KPL

BEST ELEVEN

FOOTBALL and the gun

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It’s a thin line between football and crime Wewe mama songa ama pia wewe tukumalize (move or we also kill you). By Patrick Korir

A

n adrenaline rush sends her stumbling clumsily as she scampered for safety and seconds later gun shots rent the air. Screams, commotion and a quick flash of events followed. The aftermath was two motionless bullet drenched bodies blown away for what is said to have been muggings they had made a bad habit. This time the long arm of the law had cornered them. One of them was later identified as a budding 14-year old budding goalkeeper who was in the ranks of an Under 15 team in an academy along Ngong road. That was in 2005. This is one of the cases of talent sent to the six-feet-under abode a bit too early, smoked away from the field after taking the crime lane. The footballer turned desperado make the perfect fodder for wild tales and experiences listed in this piece where the first incidents started going up as far back as 2013, are endless. As narrated from a wide sample group, the appetizer to crime starts at teenager and cuts across both gender – male and female. The reasons behind this are far and wide. Brown Bomber In September of 2002, 1995 Silver All Africa Games silver medalist George Maina aka Brown Bomber, who bank rolled a football club known as Kibera Zulu, was sprayed with bullets in a dawn raid in Kibera alongside five other persons one being a footballer named Kevin Jakolo. According to reports then, they were part of a gang

that was preparing to raid a NonGovernmental Organization (NGO) and police came in the nick of time to curtail their plan. It is said two pistols, several live ammunition, swords and machetes were recovered in the shack where they were all gunned down. In 2005 a footballer named Leftie from Kibera said to have been miles better than Jesse Were – now in the ranks of Zambian giants Zesco United went down to the gun, as well as his

had no chance to fight back and the whole lot was cleaned out. More examples In 2009, Odando, a defender barely 20 with Kangemi AllStars was blown away in a robbery gone sour in Kitale. Unbeknown to his team, he is said to have mastered house break-ins with services outsourced to other towns including Naivasha and beyond. In 2011 a budding footballer dubbed Figo was part of a gang that was waylaid near Highrise down Mbagathi road with their loot after a burglary in Dagoretti. Figo who is said to have been driving the car used to ferry stolen goods had gone past all along with to meet his death, along with all his accomplices, under spasmodic gunfire. The next year, Issa, formerly of Leviticus and YSA from the Kangemi precincts was smoked away in a botched homestead robbery in Westlands. The budding midfielder was at the tail end of the mission – responsible for tucking in stolen

This is one of the cases of talent sent to the six-feet-under abode a bit too early, smoked away from the field after taking the crime lane. accomplices, for allegedly trying to hijack a public service bus off Ngong road. A-cut-above midfielder named Fupi could have been in the ranks of top Dutch side NEC Nijmegen, a club founded in 1900. This was at some point in 2003. He had been scouted from Kenya and taken to the Netherlands for a series of trials and follow-ups made later. After an illustrious career with Mathare United, Fupi who was described as a great midfielder had to look for options to survive. For him it was one quick end. On one fateful night in 2008, he and his gang were cornered when making way with their loot at Hurlingham after their gate-away car was sprayed with bullets. Though with guns, they

goods in a car. When the alarm was raised, the first bullet from the responding flying squad took him out, and the rest of his fourman gang were out cold soon after as they scrambled to escape. In May 2013, former top tier footballer known as Marley or Modo was gunned down one Sunday afternoon in Githurai 45 area for allegedly stealing a mobile phone. While his family and friends totally disputed that claim, the police said he was a repeat criminal who had been warned severally, and if he did not stop he’d be gunned down someday – something a constable dubbed Katitu accomplished on that day by shooting him in the head three times. In cold blood, an unarmed young man was gone. soka.co.ke 67


SPECIAL FEATURE In July of 2014, a much sought after fourth form striker known as Legu who had transferred from Langata High to Olympic High was sprayed to death in Kibera after being cornered in the ranks of a wanted gang that had been warned by Police time and again to mend their ways but to no avail. He was six months away from finishing school and into the waiting contract from a second tier side that had already picked him as their answer to the top tier in 2016. History The case of footballers associating with crime and getting a deadstop from the bullet dates back to yore. A story is told of one Daniel Nicodemus Arudhi who led a double life, one on the pitch and one in the underworld. Bits and pieces of his cunning ways are captured in Joe Kadenge: The Life of a Football Legend, a biography by John Nene. Born in 1944, Arudhi, who was part of Kenya’s squad that featured in the first ever Africa Cup of Nations in 1972, is said to have been a prolific player on the pitch, but was also a convicted criminal and often, a wanted man. During his time football did not pay, save for occasional allowances. The biography talks of how the player capped 39 times for Kenya between September 1963 and November 1972 – with 18 goals to his credit, was temporarily released from prison to play for the national team. Among his spectators at City Stadium that day was a heavily armed contingent of prison wardens, presumably knowing how wily Arudhi could be. At the end of the game, they cuffed him again and took him back to his cell in Kamiti Prison. 16 years after that game, on a cold June night in Shauri Moyo, his luck finally ran out, with a bullet in his back from Kenya’s own James Bond – six-foot tall and 136kg reservist Patrick Shaw who was always scanning the landscape, with his famed Volvo and browning pistol to weed out the not-so-good from the society. Many years later, in 2015, and in what confirms that crime cuts across both gender, a former player with 68 soka.co.ke

FOOTBALL & THE GUN

Kenya’s national women team Harambee Starlets nicknamed Jojo was not spared; she was gone with the bullet after being cornered in her criminal spate in Dandora. The tales of footballers going down to the bullet are eerie, scary and many. From Kibera to Huruma, Bahati, Korogocho, Mathare and Kariobangi many a talented player have gone with the wind, fallen to crime. Those who survived the gun but

“More often than not they realize they have nothing to play for. There are not enough structures to absorb all and even though the game has rewarded a few patient ones, many others give up and begin to look elsewhere,” failed to run away from the proverbial 40 days are telling the tale from jail, a place described by Mwangi Gicheru in Across the Bridge as the ‘house for all’, where all and sundry discuss matters on ‘equal terms’. Those yet to be cornered are constantly on the run, or in exile to slither away from the men and women of law, or neighborhood vigilantes scanning the horizon for their heads. Why do footballers engage in crime? But why are youngsters, from teenagers turning out to be monstrous criminals with an insatiable hunger for money, societal status and urge to fulfill a largerthan-life image when they have a gateway through football? Piecing up the story in itself took years and many who were interviewed, or were to be interviewed begged for their names and those of the victims not to be revealed. Some simply failed to turn up. According to Fred Razor Naduli, a former Mathare United defender

who later became a team manager for the same team, there are compelling factors that possibly lead players to taking the wrong lane. Lack of progression in the game, broken family setup and false hope, according to Naduli, are massive contributors to a change in direction leading many talented players to crime, what he calls the quickest route to riches though a tad bit too risky. Ule msee tulikuwa tunaenda stadi kumwatch sasa ndio ule amekaa base anasumbua watu. Kumbe hii ball kuna vile haitatupeleka pahali – so goes a saying by a despairing young player. Kuenda ruti ku hustle, kuenda mraa or mboka are part of the underground lingo used across many hoods to mean one is on a crime mission. The realization that their role models went nowhere in football is a turning point for those not patient and they begin to fall to other distractions. “Many players do not see the continuity in the game. Budding footballers all have role models but it comes a time they find the players they admired the most and wanted to follow in their path went particularly nowhere. As long as their role models are stuck they feel stuck - it impacts negatively on them and they slowly begin to lose faith in the game and begin to look to other means.” “At this point they fall to distractions; they find some of the peers are well dressed and look to them to matchup. They are shown the easy way out which is to steal. Slowly they learn the way to the trade. Before long they graduate into hiring guns and in not too long they become hard core criminals.” Thirdly, as Naduli says, the taste of high life acquired from brief international trips, would leave many high and dry. “You find that some players have gone out of the county for international tournaments and when they return they live on a high from some of the earnings. But


when they earnings run out they have a status to maintain. With no more foreseeable trips back abroad, and need to maintain a showing in society, the easy though risky way out comes to mind; crime,” Various factors leading to crime Maurice Onyango, the current Gor Mahia Youth coach who is also a renowned youth coach that reveals various factors that lead many to take the wrong turn and a lane to criminology. From where he sits, very few players have distractions up to the age of 13 but after, those with a keen eye will note an emerging capricious and fickle behavior. At 14-15, Onyango says some youngsters adapt criminal minds due to peer influence and, if not monitored, those in this bracket begin to start with pilfering from the homestead. “At this age you find that some of your colleagues have certain things that you do not have and since you want to catch up and you have struggling parents you start to steal petty things,” says the current Gor Mahia Youth. “At 16, it could turn for worse as the petty stealing has gone on for a while, and the next step comes in; drugs, and for some, girls come their way. When those two combine, no young man wants to be seen as one not able to cater for his woman and with the unending influence in the hood from gatherings of young people, anything will pass to get money.” This, as Maurice points out, leads to amateur thieving that could include muggings, pick pocketing, brokering of stolen goods such as mobile phones and drugs. This becomes the path to the breeding of a criminal as, after a taste of cash, the thirst for more builds up leading to a true criminal mind –and a hard core. George Okwemba, an elder sibling to Harambee Stars defender Joseph for Shikokoti who turned out for

Kangemi United (now AllStars) from 2005 to 2013 before walking to full time coaching contributed differently. For Okwemba who is best known as Tall for his towering height, lack of mentorship, search of quick popularity and urge for quick riches are what leads to crime. “Football does not offer much guarantees. Young players look to take up the places of their seniors but many fail to break to that rank simply because they fail to work hard.”

“Combined football and schooling is important and when one is not in the field they can concentrate in school as their fall back plan.” “Before you know it these players start looking elsewhere for things to do. One of them is getting quick popularity and as you know society somehow idolizes criminals. Some get associated with it to feel powerful. A bad reputation in society is part of it.” “Others quit the game on the pressures of home as they are told by parents to go out and get real paying jobs and come back to help the rest of their siblings. With jobs not readily available, many take to crime where no certificates, qualification, experiences are required. Just guts.” For Shadrack Ateka, a former Ulinzi, AFC Leopards and national team defender, identity crisis and lifestyle are the major contributors to crime.

need to sustain the supply by getting a quick fix from crime. Those in this category are not only from poor backgrounds but also the rich.” Survived the gun Teddy Rogers, an offensive midfielder who once turned out for Mathare United before joining Utalii FC had to watch the game from the stands after a career threatening knee injury put him out of football and as such he was not earning from the game. Then an offer to help him survive came by; to raid a home and collect a television set and other household goodies; in it was a collective Kshs 27,500. It was the 4th of July 2000 and it was a bad period for Teddy. He was expecting a child and with no pickings from the game he had immediate needs to attend to. It went awfully wrong as he was cornered – on his first day out. The owner of the house raised the alarm but being naïve he was nabbed for not knowing the right escape route. Remand of three years followed and even though his co-accused was later nabbed and taken to remand too, he was acquitted after two years while Teddy was convicted and jailed for life. 17 years later, Teddy, the man with an admirable demeanor off the pitch and flamboyance within the field, now a grandfather after the son he was expecting before falling behind bars bore him a beautiful daughter, is still at Kamiti on death row.

He brought about another perspective of where players from not so poor backgrounds have gone to drugs are in need to maintain its supply.

He was the hope of the family and while serving his term, his life became harder as his colleagues who have been pushing for his pardoning have had to bury his father, two sisters as well as the mother of his lone son.

“Young players are in search of identity in the society and they find it in crime. Because of pressure especially from peers they believe they will find it in kidungi (gun). Those that have gone to unga (drugs)

In 2005 one roving winger dubbed Bebeto (or simply Bebe) was picked out for being in the right place – his house, but with the wrong company. The police in their normal search burst in to soka.co.ke 69


SPECIAL FEATURE the house to find the young men playing poker. Upon search part of his cronies were found to have firearms and they were all taken in. He was imprisoned at Kamiti but was later acquitted and returned to play the game for another season and a half. He now lives out a quiet life in Huruma. Can it be prevented, remedied? According to Maurice too many lads are left to their own and fall squarely at the hands of peer groups that take them off course. “A very close watch by parents is the starting point and very important at teenage. Many miss out on this and the repercussions based on pressures from the society are real,” adds Maurice. “The moment there is a change in behavior it needs to be addressed immediately. Change in dressing and unknown sources of money and other property such as acquired phones need to be addressed immediately.”

FOOTBALL AND THE GUN

what was distracting them. That togetherness helped many stay focused and away from vices. We were our brother’s keeper unlike in the current generation.” Both Maurice and Naduli point to one thing; always read the signs. Tell-tale signs e.g. regular missing of training due to ‘injury’ is an indicator that a player’s off the field activities need to be checked very closely. Tall, who admits his own sibling had also gone astray – and it took lots of mentoring to straighten him up concurs with Maurice and he says, “Noticing the first signs is very key and giving appropriate advice right on time is the way out. Once crime becomes a system it becomes normal and will be near impossible to stop. Trying to reform one deep in criminal ways is almost impossible.” “There is need for mentors to come forward and work with clubs to chat with players on the need to work harder and work their way up and shun peer pressure and crime as eventually the game will pay.”

speak up as a way of admitting that there is indeed a problem and stop playing PR and that could help collectively address the issue,” “I call upon the federation and the Government to use the convicted to publicly share their experiences and how their ways have affected them more and help budding players from following in their footsteps.” Is football still a gateway from crime? I am reminded in my conversation with legendary Dr. Dan Shikanda in late 2016, during the height of the football pre-election campaign; he let out unforgettable quotes that I duly noted during our many conversations; “During my time my peers told me I was the best. But I was not. The best were lost to drugs and crime.” Separately he said; “Because of football I went to school for free as I was offered scholarship all through my education to become the person I am today.” Tall concurred and added that from his hood, he can count

“Ule msee tulikuwa tunaenda stadi kumwatch sasa ndio ule amekaa base anasumbua watu. Kumbe hii ball kuna vile haitatupeleka pahali – despairing young player. Kuenda ruti ku hustle, kuenda mraa or mboka are part of the underground lingo used across many hoods to mean one is on a crime mission. “ “However you note that lots of families are broken and you find the homestead has an absentee father and with the mother or guardian busy trying to make a living, the role of counseling from CBO’s (Community Based Organizations) comes in very handy.” Naduli tends to agree with and says there is need for mentors, togetherness and fall back plans. “When we used to play we kept very close tabs on each other such that when one of us failed to turn up for training we would go and find out. It became easy to find out

While agreeing that mentorship and counseling will go a long way, Ateka also talks of the need for close monitoring and acceptance that there is a problem first then seek solutions. “Clubs and players nowadays have a disconnect and its time each club makes an elaborate effort to know all their players on and off the pitch. Do you know your players home, his peers? That understanding is important.” “Families and clubs go silent when one of their own is identified as being behind crime. They need to

no less than 20 lads who have been offered scholarships in high schools and colleges just because of talent in football. Ateka, now a coach at Ligi Ndogo further says; “A small percentage of players make it big and the bigger percentage falls to crime,” but Tall firmly believes that “if players have a long term vision for their own game and be patient enough to see it through they will certainly overcome all distractions crime included, and make it.”

Follow Patrick Korir on Twitter: @tipkorir

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CLUB PROFILE COVER STORY

NAIVAS FCSTORY COVER

NAIVAS FC

Achievements: 2014

Runners up in the RB tournament

By Patrick Korir

Motto: One team one dream Founded: 2013 Aim: To provide the community with a model of quality youth development, inspiration through the sport and an environment for players and teams to reach their goals and an atmosphere for all participants to have a positive experience Progression: 2013- Sub-county 2014 - County 2015 - Regional 2016 -Nationwide Div. 2 League. Squad in numbers: 30 players. Cutting edge: In the last three years the team has risen from the sixth tier to the fourth tier of Kenyan Football. Head Coach - Joseph Irungu, CAF C: “We have a squad that believes in themselves and in three next three years we want to be right at the top with the big boys in the Kenyan Premier League.” “With the resources put in by Naivas and with a squad that is willing to go all the way, nothing will stop us.” Assistant Coach Samuel Maina: “We have what we can call a good blend of players balancing between experience and youth. We are ever thankful to Naivas in taking this direction as it has now provided a whole lot of youth with a chance to earn a living by playing and working.

because they have realigned themselves to the corporate way. Those that are very deserving have also been afforded scholarships.” Keeper trainer Prince Yamba: “My department is currently working well and in the last two games my keepers, who I rotate accordingly, have not conceded any goals. In the next few years they will be the best of the best.”

MVP for the RB tournament 2015

Current status: Top of the Eastern Div 2 log with a seven point gap.

Moses Kamau Club CEO

Winners of the RB tournament MVP player RB tournament BGK for the RB tournament TOT for RB tournament Runners up in the regional

2016

Winners of the 2016 Rb tournament TOT, BGK & MVP awards for the 2016 RB tournament

Trainer Dorcas Nyambura: “We are headed the right direction with the backing of the company which we truly appreciate. I am a former player with Mathare and at Naivas I got the opportunity to train.” Vice-Captain Collins Omogo: Formerly with Mathare Youth, Sofapaka, Mathare United: “Naivas is a blend of promising and experienced players alike. I’m here because I believe the club has what it takes to go all the way.”

Runners up in the County league

Winners of Nairobi FKF Regional league Golden Boot and Glove for the 2016 Regional League Qualifying for the Nationwide Div. 2 league Team Structure: CEO

Moses Kamau

Head coach

Joseph Irungu

Assistant coach

Samuel Maina

Captain

Wycliffe Otieno

Vice-captain

Collins Omogo

Keeper trainers

Prince Yamba

Trainer

Dorcas Nyambura

Physio

David Gatini

Head Coach Joseph Irungu

Moses Kamau – Club CEO: “We started the team as a CSR initiative and along the way we have given opportunities to some of the most underprivileged players.” “Other than just playing, we aim to inculcate corporate skills to the players and so far close to 13 have been absorbed at our stores soka.co.ke 71


CLUB PROFILE

NAIVAS FC

Keeper Trainer Prince Yamba

Naivas training at Sameer

Vice-Captain (no.18) Collins Omogo Trainer Dorcas Nyambura Follow Patrick Korir on Twitter: @tipkorir

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soka.co.ke 73

Keepers: Defenders: Midfielder’s: Strikers:

NAIVAS FC 2017

Levis Ashiali, Lenny Chege, Nicholas Odongo. Collins Omogo, Wycliffe Otieno, Isaac Amesso, Daniel Mue, Cleophan Musyoki, Nicholas Ochieng’, Duncan Omondi and Reuben Mulei, Charles Omeo David Omondi, Dennis Odhiambo, Wayne Odhiambo, Kelly Masinde, Mauka Edwin, Bonface Mohu. Bonface Maundu, Emmanuel Mutiso, Martin Njau, Constance Ouma, Ken Mutendei, Hassan Rashid, Mustafa Sudi, Robin Ouma.

soka.co.ke


LIFE AFTER FOOTBALL

NOAH AYUKO

Noah Ayuko Standing Alone in the face of Adversity “Karuturi gave me everything I needed for my prosperity. Getting relegated after our struggle for the better part of that season (2013) was the end of me. Starting a new life outside the Karuturi circle was always going to be tough and I haven’t picked up from then.” By Zachary Oguda

S

aturday 2 November 2013 will forever be in the minds of those associated with Sher Karuturi. Once a formidable force in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) scene, their association with the Kenyan top flight football was to come to an abrupt end. After flirting with relegation for the better part of the season, their relegation fears were confirmed by Mathare United who emerged 2-0 winners on the day; the goals coming courtesy of a Dennis Nzomo first half penalty with Edwin Ombasa adding the other. For any footballer, relegation from a top flight league is always a blow and a reminder of how poor you were through the season - another move to start all over again. For Sher Karaturi’s keeper Noah Ayuko, it was the end of his world.

all means. To footballers, to be paid to play a sport you love while receiving admiration is a pretty good deal. Professional footballers, more so of the yester-years, were not often feted for their intelligence but that’s not the main reason why others fail to make it after hanging their boots - in Noah Ayuko’s case, the gloves. “It’s something that gives you some satisfaction when you are paid to do something that you love most but football has changed and in the current state, footballers are more recognized and paid well unlike during our days. We (Karuturi players) were employees of Sher Agencies and enjoyed all the benefits but it all went wrong when the company collapsed and there was no one to

Club Championship after losing to Tusker FC in an all Kenyan affair. He was to join Chemelil for a season before settling in Naivasha with Karuturi for eight years; a period he feels marked him for stardom. “I owe Twahir Muhiddin a lot in my career. He is the one who introduced me to the game and incorporated me in a team that had winners and I am happy that many of my team mates then are now some established coaches in the country. Kimanzi gave me my debut in the national team but Muhiddin recalled me again when he was at the helm so I owe a lot to him. He is one guy who believed in my abilities.” “I left Chemelil after a season for Karuturi because apart from playing,

“It’s something that gives you some satisfaction when “Karuturi gave me everything I needed for my prosperity. Getting you are paid to do something that you love most” relegated after our struggle for the better part of that season (2013) was the end of me. Starting a new life outside the Karuturi circle was always going to be tough and I haven’t picked up from then,” Ayuko says. Born on 10 March 1977, Ayuko was a household name in the early millennium drawing admiration in and outside the country. To anyone in any field, being paid for doing something you love is satisfactory by 74 soka.co.ke

cater for our needs and that affected not only me but a lot of players at the club then,” Ayuko opines. Career Ayuko started his serious club football with Oserian then under the tutelage of Twahir Muhiddin (now a technical director at Bandari FC) in 2000 and lifted the 2001 KPL title - coming as runners up in the same year at the CECAFA

they were going to offer me a job and that enticed me. Sadly the company went down when I had a little left in the bag to carry on as a player and that disarrayed a lot of my plans,” Ayuko continues. Ayuko was to call it a day after a season with Kakamega Homeboyz in 2015 after which he was handed a role at Vihiga United in 2016 as their goalkeeper trainer but all


COVER STORY

COVER STORY

soka.co.ke soka.co.ke 75


LIFE AFTER FOOTBALL

NOAH AYUKO

was not going his way as he says internal wrangles and personal reasons made him quit the job.

What of his preferred keeper currently in the country and his advice to the upcoming footballers.

“As a player you now that one day you will have to leave the scene for the fresh blood and after watching many of my team mates venture into coaching, I decided that after the Homeboyz adventure I was going to follow suit.

“There is no better keeper than Boniface Oluoch (in the books of Gor Mahia) currently in the country. What Oluoch doesn’t like is pressure, he likes doing things his own way and if given room to do so, he performs. There are good upcoming keepers in the National Super League (NSL) too and I hope they can keep the momentum going.

“Coaching at Vihiga was a good adventure as it was meant to be my first blueprint in the coaching world but I hate disruptions and as the season progressed, I felt my presence was ruffling feathers at the club and I had to leave to give them the peace they needed,” Ayuko notes. After being out of the limelight for some time, news started circulating that the ex-national team keeper was not living a life that befitted a legend after what he did for Kenyan Football with his images in social media depicting a face of someone who had lost hope in life. While Ayuko, who currently coaches young kids in Kakamega, doesn’t deny he has struggled to make ends meet, he affirms that he knows that one day he will be back to make a contribution to Kenyan soccer. Tough life “The guy who was spreading the photos on social media did what he had to do; with my state I can’t control what people do with my images. The truth is it’s been tough on my side to make ends meet because of the demands of life. Currently I do odd jobs in the streets of Kakamega to earn a living and this is not a life I had envisaged when I started playing football. “Every evening after work, the kids from the neighborhood join me in an evening kick-about and they see me as a mentor. Despite what people think, being seen as someone who can inspire a young generation still gives me hope that one day I will be back to add value to Kenyan soccer and will jump at any opportunity to realize this,” Ayuko says.

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“My advice to footballers is never tire to give your best. There will always be competition and that should spur you on. I wasn’t a constant feature between the posts by fluke, it’s the hard work in trainings that keeps you there,” Ayuko concludes. Rehab Many who have been with Ayuko believe there are a lot of circumstances but majorly alcohol

that have contributed to his current state with ex Harambee Stars striker Boniface Ambani, who was raised in Naivasha and a close ally to the keeper, saying there were plans to take Ayuko to a rehabilitation center before getting him back to his feet. Ambani, who acknowledges the response from the fans, urged the federation and football stakeholders to bring ex footballers close to the game lest they disappear into oblivion. “Ayuko’s main problem has been alcohol addiction but we are working round the clock to have him back to his feet. I have to thank the football fans of this country who have shown care and contributed in a way or the other and our first step is to ensure that he be taken to a rehabilitation center before working again to have him back into the game.

“Ayuko’s main problem has been alcohol addiction but we are working round the clock to have him back to his feet.” ~ Boniface Ambani

Follow Zachary Oguda on Twitter: @zaxoguda


COVER STORY REINHARDT FABISCH

TOUGH COACH

Towards the end of October 1996, the Kenya Football Federation (KFF) brought in West German, Reinhardt Fabisch, to replace Montenegrin, Vojoslav Gardasevic, as the national team coach on a one year contract effective from 1 November.

W

By Patrick Korir ith time not on his side, he inherited a team that had been training under Vojo as his first assignment was a first round 1998 World Cup qualifier against Guinea on 10 November. Fourth The team lost the Conakry game 3-1 and soon after the debacle left for Khartoum, Sudan, for the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup – with a short stopover in Nairobi. With a composition of players that he largely did not know about, Fabisch guided his team through three group games to qualify for the semis where they were stopped from making the final after falling 2-0 to Uganda. The team went on to finish fourth after going down 5-4 to Sudan in post-match penalties after regulation time ended 1-1.

Usefulness Upon return from Sudan, a large section of the players accused Fabisch of having insulted them and putting them under immense pressure especially prior to the game against Uganda. “This man (Fabisch) thinks he is the best coach around. Before the match he abused some players threatening them to

BLAST FROM THE PAST www.soka.co.ke COVER STORY

prove their worth or be dropped from the national team. Some were referred to as ‘old’ players who had ‘outlived’ their usefulness in the national team” said a very dejected player Arrogant But Fabisch, who was making a return to Kenya’s national team after nine years, had a swift, and very arrogant response; “Any player who cannot play under pressure to produce positive results has no business being in football and such a player had better join a boozers club,” he was quoted by a local daily. He went on to admit the tournament gave him a chance to identify players he could work with.

“Any player who cannot play under pressure to produce positive results has no business being in football and such a player had better join a boozers club.” Reinhardt Fabisch His subsequent team, from the squad that was in Sudan, included Seif Mutie, Francis Onyiso, Musa Otieno and Eric Cantona Ochieng. Dropped Vincent Kwarula was considered back a little later. For Sammy Sholei, George Sunguti, Paul Ochieng, Dan Ogada, Henry Motego, Gerald Origi, Nickanor Aketch, Steve Odiaga, David Odhiambo and Alfred Kiriga it was all but over. The skipper then, Sammy Omolo, had also been dismissed but some five years later was recalled back to the national team by James Sianga.

Follow Patrick Korir on Twitter: @tipkorir

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SOKA CROSSWORD

AND PUZZLE

Soka Crossword 5 1

2

3

4

5

6 8

7

Across

9 10

13

18

17 20

19

7.Former Nigeria captain and coach also called Keshi (7)

21

Bolton Wanderers (4)

23 24

26

25

30

muscle (5)

31

13.To gain the victory in a match (3) 14.Lars __ plays for Bayer Leverkusen as a

Previous Soka Crossword Solutions ACROSS: 1.Bans 3.Seung 5.Rami 7.Yaya 8.Duncan 10.Adam 11.Suarez 14.Wade 16.Jumper 19.Pant 20.Ghost Mulee 23.Pump 25.Oliech 26.Messi 29.Header 30.Aggrey 31.David 32.Origi

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midfielder (6)

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6.Propel with force through the

8.Mark __ is an English footballer who

11.Forbade (10) 15.Akos __ is a Hungarian football player who plays for FC Kairat (4) 17.A premier soccer organization in Utah Valley (4 ,2) 18.Greater in excellence (5)

26.Move swiftly on foot (3)

19.Outfield player who prevents

27.Simba __ is a Tanzanian football club (2)

opposing team from scoring a goal (8) 21.__ Carneiro is the Chelsea medic (3)

28.“__ the pitch” means away from the pitch (3)

25.Failure to gain the victory in a match (4)

30.Guards for the legs and ankles in sports (4)

27.Rest on lower part of trunk of body (3) 29.Danny __ plays as a defender for

31.Walter__ is Mathare United’s midfielder (5)

5.A grouping of sports clubs for

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play pro. football outside of Ireland (4)

T

PF: SOCCER POSITIONS E C E G N R

exertion (8)

23.__ O’Brien was first Irish female to

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plays for Persib Bandung (6)

air (5)

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Previous Pathfinder Solution P F : Harambee Stars Coaches

4.Michael __ is a Ghanaian footballer who

games (6)

16.Danny __ is an English former central

DOWN: 1.Bandari 2.Neymar 3.Stars 4.Utaka 5.Run 6.Innocent 8.Doe 9.CECAFA 12.Uhuru 13.Rip 15.Suspended 17.Efe 18.Chelsea 19.Papi 21.Maher 22.Lampard 24.Play 27.Sugar 28.Greg

a right winger (5) 3.A duration (4)

12.AFC Leopard’s nickname (5)

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Nottingham Forest (3) 30.Physical Education (abbrev) (2)

32.Equality in scores (3)

Path Finder The path finder grid below contains a selection of positions on a soccer field, starting with the highlighted ‘C’. The words form a continuous path, passing through each letter on the grid once. The path always moves horizontally or vertically, and never diagonally. There are 8 positions to find in total

By Lenny Ruvaga ruvagalenny@hotmail.com 78 soka.co.ke


COVER STORY

COVER STORY

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Soka magazine Issue 7  

Soka is a print Magazine dedicated to Kenyan Football

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