The Chapa Dimba Na Safaricom is a tournament that aims to recruit young talent aged 16 -20 to play in a national tournament, showcase their talent and stand a chance to earn from their passion by winning prize money worth Ksh 1 million for the winning team and an International Training Camp to London in March 2018. The tournament which is a partnership between Safaricom and Football Kenya Federation hosts both male and female football teams. The brand ambassador is Victor Wanyama, the Harambee Stars captain, and successful Tottenham football player.
This year, a budding football player Oscar Kengwa playing with the Al-Ahli football team got to showcase his talent earning him a place in the Under 20 National Team.
Please tell us a little about yourself
I am 19 years old. I currently reside in Molem located in Kajiado County. In 2016, I graduated from Orok Secondary School in Namanga. I then joined RAF International University in Kajiado where I am currently studying Islamic Law.
When did you start playing football and what inspired you to play?
I started playing football when I was 12 years old. As a young boy, my dad would take me to watch football matches. Later when he realized I was really interested in the game, he took me to join a local football team in our home area called Wigan FC in Dandora. I played with them for about 6 years until joining another team. In high school, however, I did not play much football because there was not much emphasis put on our high school football team. We only played a few local friendly matches.
When did you get back to playing and what position do you play?
When I joined the university, I decided to take football a little more seriously. So a couple of my high school friends who knew about my talent connected me to the right people. After the couch of Al-Ahli team saw how I performed he recruited me to join the team. I play the role of the striker.
What have been the challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
Financing is a very big issue. As a team, we have many financial obligations. You need money to purchase the kits and sports-wear. Other expenses mostly pile up when you need to go for away games which are vital for developing the team’s skill. We have to cater for travelling, accommodation and meal expenses. We sometimes have to reach into our pockets which is not always easy. Sometimes you can get sponsors. Like for this tournament, Safaricom was catering for all the travel arrangements.
How has been the experience of taking part in the Chapa Dimba na Safaricom Tournament?
You realize that the games are very competitive. Each team is trying their level best and giving their all to win. Especially when the prize on the line is 1 million shillings and a one week trip to London to train with our very own Victor Wanyama. You realize everyone sees how great of an opportunity this really is and they want to make sure they go home knowing they have it all. It is also really great to interact with various team players and learn a few things from them.
What has been your greatest highlight of your football career?
The biggest highlight has definitely got to be the call to play in the Under 20 National Team. That is a great opportunity to grow and advance myself as a footballer. Another great highlight if I may add is getting to play a chance to join the Kariobangi Sharks who are in the Kenya Premium League. After my team got knocked out in the County finals, I was scouted by Nick Mwendwa, the President of the FKF to join the team. It is a great feeling to feel like your talent as a footballer is being noticed and taking you places.
What was your reaction when you heard that you had been called up to the U-20 National Team?
At first, I thought it was a joke. It is hard to believe you can get such an opportunity. I was extremely excited. I remember people telling me how great an opportunity this is at my age. My family members were a bit sceptical at first. They have heard of instances where people get such opportunities and forget where they came from. But after having a talk with them, they understood and were happy with me.
What are your future plans and goals?
I plan on finishing my studies as I pursue a professional football career. Victor Wanyama is my role model. He started small and so did I. From Wigan FC to Al-Ahli now to Kariobangi Sharks. I hope to later join FC Leopards or Gor-Mahia. My all-time dream is to join Celtics FC and maybe later Manchester United.
What advice would you give to young people like you who aspire to make football a career?
Do not quit. Keep at it even if it looks like opportunities are not forthcoming. When your opportunity comes along, it will be yours and no one can take it away from you. Love what you do and practice hard so you can get better. Also, when opportunities like Chapa Dimba na Safaricom come your way, take them seriously and give it the best you have. You never know, it could be the start to a great career. It is also important to have a manager/representative from a very early age. Someone, who can mentor you and represent you professionally. My representative is Yusuf Haji. I met him when I was 14 years old and we have grown together ever since.