Balancing Act: How the smartest Kenyan players juggle football and academics
Muhoroni Youth’s George Mandela accepts his new young player of the year award from football legent JJ Masiga during the 2015 SJAK/KPL awards ceremony at Safari Park Hotel on Dec. 9, 2015. [PHOTO/JONAH ONYANGO/STANDARD]

Some even have to find time for class from their busy work schedule apart from playing

SEE ALSO: Obiri says farming keeps her on track

How smart local footballers are juggling football and academics

Current footballers are following in the footsteps of the likes of JJ Masiga, Obwaka and Shikanda in pursuit for academic excellence

SEE ALSO: Former AFC Leopards coach banned from operating in South Africa for life

Juggling football, academics and full time employment is tricky for most footballers.

At times, footballers have to move their lessons or even defer their lessons to accommodate training schedules as well as travel to away matches, hence hurting their relationship with either their employers or lecturers.

SEE ALSO: Premier League may see reduced crowds into next year: govt adviser

And doing this on the road while traveling complicates the situation as they try to combine education/employment to their playing career.

However, a few former and current players in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) have beaten the odds to join the likes of Chelsea coach Frank Lampard, Manchester United’s Juan Mata, AC Milan’s Romelu Lukaku, Club Brugge’s Simon Mignolet, Brazil’s Socrates and Juventus’ defender Giorgio Chiellini in the world of academia.

For years, the intelligence of local players had been questioned as many regarded football as a career for academically-challenged individuals.

But that’s just not the case with this lot as people like Kenya Footballers Welfare Association (Kefwa) chairman James Situma, his Secretary General Jerry Santo, veteran striker Allan Wanga (Kakamega Homeboyz), Michael Olunga (Kashiwa Reysol, Japan), Ronald Okoth (Sofapaka), Duncan Otieno (Nkana, Zambia), Brian Osumba (Posta Rangers), Chris Ochieng’ (Mathare United), Dennis Gicheru (Wazito), Bernard Wanguche (Zoo Kericho), unattached Paul Kiongera and retired Geoffrey Kataka just to mention a few are worth celebrating.

Balancing Act: How the smartest Kenyan players juggle football and academics
Kenyan international Michael Olunga in the Japan J2 League. [Reuters]

When they are not busy training or on club and national team duties their heads are always buried in books pursuing academic excellence.

These players are following in the footsteps of legendary Dr JJ Masiga, Dr William Obwaka and current AFC Leopards chairman Dr Dan Shikanda by perfectly balancing studies and their demanding football careers.

Name: Jerry Santo

Age: 35 years

Current club: Kefwa Secretary General (Retired footballer)

Previous clubs: Dandora Youth, Tusker, Simba SC, Coastal Union, Gor Mahia and Posta Rangers

Position: Midfielder

Academic qualifications: Masters in Sports Management and Legal Skills ISDE

College/University: Barcelona

“It is quite difficult if you don’t focus on what you want to achieve in life. Without self-discipline and time management, you can’t make it.”

Name: Brian Osumba

Age: 29 years

Balancing Act: How the smartest Kenyan players juggle football and academics
Dr William Obwaka, Consultant,Obstetrician and a Gynaecologist during an interview with The Standard.PHOTO DAVID NJAAGA/STANDARD}

Current club: Posta Rangers

Previous clubs: Gor Mahia, Mahakama, KCB and Tusker

Position: Midfielder

Academic qualifications: Bachelor of Economics, CPA

College: University of Nairobi and Strathmore University

“Proper planning and dedication is needed to succeed in both.”

Name: Eliud Lokuwam

Age: 23 years

Club: Posta Rangers

Previous clubs: Gor Mahia, Kenyatta University FC, Thunder Birds

Position: Striker

Academic qualifications: Bachelor of Economics (Finance)

College/University: Kenyatta University

“It is a challenge, but my dream is to excel in both football and education. There was a time I was forced to call off my semester due to my busy schedule.”

Balancing Act: How the smartest Kenyan players juggle football and academics
Bandari’s Dan Guya (left) and Brian Osumba of Posta Rangers FC at Kenyatta Stadium on Sunday, May 5, 2019. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Name: Bernard Wanguche

Age: 32 years

Current club: Zoo Kericho

Previous clubs: Maseno United

Position: Striker

Academic qualifications: Bachelor of Education — Sciences (Teacher at Kipchimchim Secondary School)

College/University: Maseno University

“It is all about sacrifice. Teaching is not like other professions which you can recover wasted time. You must always be there physically.”

Name: Duncan Otieno

Age: 24

Current club: Nkana (Zambia)

Previous clubs: AFC Leopards, Posta Rangers

Position: Midfielder

Academic qualifications: Bachelor of Arts (Public Administration)

College/University: University of Nairobi

“At times my programmes clashed, but the good thing is that most of my classes were in the afternoon.”

Name: Bernard Ochieng’

Age: 23 years

Current club: Wazito

Previous clubs: Vihiga United

Position: Defender

Academic qualifications: Bachelor of Education — Arts

College/University: Kenyatta University

Name: Moses Mburu

Age: 26 years

Current club: Unattached

Previous clubs: AFC Leopards, Mathare United and KCB

Position: Defender

Academic qualifications: Bachelor of Business IT/FAA Certified Aircraft Dispatcher

College/University: JKUAT/Flamingo Air Academy (Ohio, USA)

“It was difficult to balance the two, based on the fact that I was still young and vulnerable to many things. But I thank God, I managed both of them.”

Name: Bernard Mang’oli

Age: 30 years

Current club: Unattached

Previous clubs: JMJ Academy, AFC Leopards, Bandari, Sofapaka and KCB

Position: Midfielder

Academic qualifications: Bachelor of Environmental Studies (Community Development)

College/University: Kenyatta University.

“Education still remains a fall back plan to my football career.”

Name: Paul Kiongera

Age: 28 years

Current club: Unattached

Previous clubs:  KCB, Gor Mahia, Simba SC, AFC Leopards, Ushuru and Wazito

Position: Midfielder

Academic qualifications: Bachelor of Arts (Psychology and Sociology)

College/University: Kenyatta University

“Your success depends on how well you manage your time. Use your time wisely and it will make balancing the two much easier.”

Name: Zeka Wakoli

Age: 27 years

Club: Unattached

Previous clubs: Chemelil Sugar and GFE 105

Position: Striker

Academic qualifications: Bachelor of Sustainable Energy and Climate Change System

College/University: University of Eldoret

Name: Geoffrey Kataka

Age: 32 years

Current club: Unattached (Retired)

Previous clubs: AFC Leopards, Ushuru, Ushuru, Nairobi Stima and Posta Rangers

Position: Striker

Academic qualifications: Bachelor of Education (Geography and Business Studies)

College/University: University of Nairobi

“The two had to supplement each other and I’m grateful I was successful in both. I actually had to play football to fund my education from high school to university. But I had to balance the two. The world is changing and more footballers are finding it reasonable to go back to school and secure their post-football life.”

Name: James Situma

Age: 35 years

Current club: Kefwa Chairman (Retired)

Previous clubs: Nzoia Sugar, Nairobi City Stars, Sofapaka, KF Tirana (Albania), AFC Leopards, Tusker, Kakamega Homeboyz and Mathare United

Position: Defender

Academic qualifications: Bachelor of Business Management (1st year)

“The biggest challenge here is balancing the two. There are times when you are tired after training but you still have to go to class. But it’s worth it because it will pay off. We have short online courses that are beneficial and easy for an individual to enroll. We (Kefwa) have even partnered with Zetech University to make it easier for our footballers to pursue further education.”

Name: Ronald Okoth

Age: 32 years

Current club: Sofapaka

Previous clubs: Western Stima, Mathare United and Gor Mahia

Position: Striker

Academic qualifications: Bachelor of Science (Information Science)

College/University: Kenya Methodist University  

“Education is always the best fallback plan for anybody and without it, you can fall into depression. But honestly, it wasn’t easy for me because back then, I was playing for Western Stima and my campus was in Nairobi. I had to defer a number of times before I eventually switched to online and evening classes. But I just found the right balance between the two and things fell in place until I graduated. At the same time, it’s through football that I managed to pay my school fees. This is a narrative that we must change because many people consider footballers as uneducated people. My focus now is on enrolling for masters.”

Name: Pistone Mutamba

Age: 23 years

Current club: Wazito

Previous clubs:  Sofapaka

Position: Striker

Academic qualifications: Diploma in Business Management

College/University: University of Nairobi

“Education is important but the challenge used to come during exams period because I needed to prepare well and focus on the papers.”

Name: Dan Makori

Age: 33 years

Current club: Kefwa official (Retired)

Previous clubs: Western Stima, Gor Mahia

Position: Midfielder

Academic qualifications: Bachelor of Education (Physical)

College/University: Moi University

“Educated footballers are respected even after they retire from the game.”

Name: Victor Ashinga

Age: 28 years

Current club: Kefwa official (Unattached)

Previous clubs: Fisa Academy, Nairobi City Stars

Position: Midfielder

Academic qualifications: Bachelor of Science Sports

College/University: Kenyatta University

“Football and academics are not a big load as perceived by many. It’s all about passion in what you are doing and believing in what you are doing.”

Name: Dennis Gicheru

Age: 30 years

Current club: Wazito CEO

Previous clubs: Posta Rangers, KCB, Kangemi All Stars and Leviticus FC

Position: Defender

Academic qualifications: Bachelor of Law

College/University: Kenyatta University/Kenya School of Law

Name: Michael Olunga

Age: 26 years

Current club: Kashiwa Reysol

Previous clubs: Thika United, Tusker, Gor Mahia, Djurgårdens IF, Guizhou Zhicheng and Girona

Position: Striker

Academic qualifications: Bachelor of Engineering (Geospatial Engineering)

Name: Soita Silicho

Age: 25 years

Current club: Unattached

Previous clubs: Vihiga United

Position: Midfielder

Academic qualifications: Bachelor of Law

College/University: Strathmore University

Name: Allan Wanga

Age: 34 years

Current club: Kakamega Homeboyz (Kakamega County Sports Director)

Previous clubs: Tusker, Petro Atlético, Sofapaka, HAGL, AFC Leopards, Al Merreikh and Azam

Position: Striker

Academic qualifications: Diploma in Human Resource Management

College/University: University of Nairobi

“It is hectic, not easy at all. It involves a lot of sacrifice and commitment. I haven’t had enough time with my family, but I think it is worth it. I’m now planning to enroll for two degree courses in Sports Science and Human Resources.”

 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here