Meet able-bodied amputee football coach who has seen it all in action

Monday, May 29th, 2023 05:43 | By
Willis Odhiambo Otieno
Willis Odhiambo Otieno

Willis Odhiambo Otieno literally eats, drinks and sleeps football and usually dons sports apparel whether conducting training or relaxing with his family at his rental house in Jerusalem Estate in Nairobi.

The 53-year-old who was born and brought up at the football-crazy Eastlands in the city can aptly be described as a go-getter.

Odhiambo has seen it all in Nairobi’s estate football landscape but perhaps most notable is that he is a tactician who wears many hats having featured prominently in the able-bodied football as a goalkeeper before flexing his muscles to be appointed not only as the national amputee football team coach but also national Special Olympics team trainer.

The Heshima Road Primary School and Buruburu High School alumnus was bitten by the football bug after seeing firsthand how Eastlando (Sheng for Eastlands) and especially Jericho was repeatedly churning out footballers of international repute.

 “I admired the teams which were perennial participants in the Otti Father and PendoMoja Texado tournaments in Owanjo Soo (now Camp Toyoyo ground) in Jericho and others in neighbouring Maringo and Eastleigh Estates. I adored the players too and asked myself, why not venture into football and become as famous as they? posed Odhiambo.

Jericho which is sandwiched by Buru Buru Estate from the North and Ofafa Maringo Estate from the South has produced reputable players like the late Bernard  “ Zico Otieno, his brother Felix Otieno both who played for Gor Mahia and Harambee Stars, George Olubendi (ex-AFC Leopards striker), Ben Gachie (Re-Union), Kevin Ateku (AFC Leopards) and Johnsone Kepha Tasso (AFC Leopards) and Vincent “Otinje”Otieno (ex-Kenya Pipeline/Harambee Stars). and John “Shoto”Lukoye (ex AFC Leopards).

Odhiambo first stop towards his quest to emulate such greats would be Madiwa area within Eastleigh Section 3 where he teamed with the likes of Tom “Jua Kali”Otieno, Ben “Bella’Omukuba,  Simon Besh, Suli of Nomiya Church and renowned Arocho twin brothers Fred and Billy to form the neighbourhood’s team dubbed Roots FC.

“I played for Roots Fc between 2000 and 2003 and my potential was realized during the Koth Biro Tournament in Ziwani., reminisces Odhiambo.    Still basking in the glory of shining for Roots in Koth Biro, Odhiambo found a new home to further hone his skills in Jericho where he was part of a makeshift Easlanders FC.

 which featured the likes of ex-Gor Mahia striker Tom “Mabele” Okaya, Bernard Agunda, ex-Harambee Stars goalkeeper Victor Onyango, Martin “Hazard “Avuko, John Okello and Morris Shikanda.

  Due their mental strength and commanding performances for Eastalnders, Odhiambo alongside Avuko, Okello and Okaya were lured by Viwanda FC.

“I was a regular glove-man at Viwanda but if the management thought that it had finally found players who would be assets for the team for several seasons, it was damn wrong as poaching by top Kenyan Premier League teams came calling. I joined Re-Union,  of Ateku was lured by AFC Leopards, Hazard went to Mahakama, Agunda was enticed by Utalii, then  Tusker and finally Simba of Tanzania before hanging his boots,” Viwanda then had other reputable players like central midfielder James Ingram, Joseph Opwoki and defender Steve Muchoki but the raid by other clubs rendered it moribund.

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