Meet David Majak, The South Sudanese Refugee Who Was The Regional MVP At The Chapa Dimba Na Safaricom Tournament
The Safaricom Chapa Dimba Na Safaricom 2018 Tournament came to a close on 25th March. Kapenguria Heroes from West Pokot cliched the cup in the boy’s category. They won Kshs. 1 million with many players joining the U-20 National Team while others garnered positions in teams in the Kenya Premier League.
One such star is David Majak, an 18-year-old refugee from South Sudan who showed great football prowess. Playing for Kapenguria Heroes, he led them to victory at the regional level after emerging top scorer in the match. Additionally, he was named the regional MVP which came with Kshs 30,000 prize money. He went on to be crowned the MVP at the Nationals garnering an extra Kshs 30,000. He was also scouted by Football Kenya Federation (FKF) to join Kakamega Homeboyz in the Kenya Premier League. His team will be going to London to meet the tournament’s brand ambassador Victor Wanyama.
Please tell me a little about yourself
I am an 18-year-old from South Sudan but I have lived most of my life in Kenya. We moved to the refugee camp in Kakuma in 2007. I then moved to study in Turkana where I joined Chewoyet Boys High School. I grew up in a family of 6 with 4 brothers. They are also interested in football but for now, I think they play just for fun.
How can you describe your experience in Kakuma?
Living in Kakuma came with its hardships. There was a shortage of clean water. Food and clothes were also very hard to come by. Then there is the sun which was extremely hot. It is just many of those refugees have nowhere else to turn to so they just stick around even in those conditions.
How did you begin playing football and what inspired you to play?
I actually began playing for leisure. In Kakuma we would form small teams and kick around a ball just for fun. I never thought it would amount to anything. When we left Sudan to move to Kakuma, I joined a team called D3. That was the first team I remember playing in. Later at Cherwoyet Boys High School, I joined Kapenguria Heroes. I started out as a goalkeeper but later became a striker. I am more comfortable in that position.
What challenges have you encountered along the way and how have you been able to overcome them?
While playing for Kapenguria heroes, we did not have a field to practice in. We also lacked basic football equipment such as the right shoes or even balls to practice with. We used to play friendly games with other teams which required us to travel from one place to another. One had to source for the fare which was not easy to get for us to travel to those destinations. Often our coaches would dig into their own pockets to finance our travelling and lodging. They understood that we were students and couldn’t come up with large amounts of cash.
However, when I joined Kapenguria Heroes in 2015 we played and won in The Maisha League in 2016 where we won Ksh. 1 million. With this money, we were able to finance our needs such as acquiring balls and equipment for training which helped us get ready for the Chapa Dimba Tournament.
How has been the experience playing at The Chapa Dimba na Safaricom Tournament?
My experience at Chapa Dimba was a good one. But from the beginning, it was not easy. The teams had come to play their level best. We played 2 games at the County level, 3 games at Subregion, 2 at the Regionals and 3 at the Nationals. We had to win all those 10 games for us to eventually win the tournament and that was no easy feat. However, I believe that our determination and commitment to the game is what eventually won us the cup.
I really enjoyed spending time with other teams and getting to interact with other team members. However, this was a situation whereby if a team lost one game, they would go home. This was heartbreaking to team members because you could tell that most of these teams had given their all during those games. So some players would often become too angry to even talk to you after you won, which I understood.
What was your reaction when you won the tournament?
I was grateful that we won but I honestly did not think too much about the money. It would help our team grow but I was never in it for the money. When you grow up the way I have, you realize that money is just paper, it comes and goes. One day it is yours, the other day it belongs to someone else. The only thing you can truly call yours is your achievements. I believe it was the same for my teammates. All we wanted was to win. That was our target, to better ourselves as football players. However, everyone got their cut of the 200,000 which I am sure has gone a long way in helping their families out.
Why do you think your team won?
I think we won because of believing in ourselves and keeping our eye on the prize. We also trained vigorously during the period of the tournament, once in the morning and again in the evening every single day. We had to set our minds to play hard since during the tournament you would find that you could play 2 games a day. So your body needed to have built up stamina or you would get tired after one game.
What has been the greatest highlight of your career so far?
Simply finding out I had a talent. I honestly never thought football would ever take me anywhere. I figured it was just a hobby like any other. So realizing that it is a talent that has lead me to play professional football is a big deal to me. I am however grateful for how far I have come most especially being picked by Kakamega Homeboys The funny thing is I had always wanted to join Gor Mahia Youth then ended up playing against them and beating them in the finals.
How has this tournament impacted your life?
It has allowed me to showcase my talent to the scouts who were watching. That further led to me joining the Kakamega Homeboys which is a great achievement since they are in the Kenya Premier League. Additionally, the money I have won at the regional level and the national level has helped my family a lot. I am also excited to go to London and spend a whole week with Victor Wanyama. All this has happened to me in the span of about a year all because of Chapa Dimba na Safaricom and I am very grateful.
Now that you are off to a great start, what are your future plans and goals?
My future plan is to grow so much as a football player that I start helping people out instead of just being helped out which is been done for me. So many people have the talent but lack the opportunities to play. Instead of waiting for help from people who have not gone through the struggles we have, we can push ourselves to succeed then help those who were once like us.
I would also like to play professional football in clubs such as Tottenham or Real Madrid in future. I admire players such as Harry Kane from Tottenham. In matters to do with education, I would like to study Law at the university.
What advice would you give to young people like you who want to aspire to make football a career?
They need to convince themselves they can make it big even if the odds are not in their favour. You need to believe you can make it because if you don’t, nobody can have that vision for you. Eventually, people start to believe in you but you have to be the one to show them why you are a winner. Additionally, talent is not enough. When it comes to football you need to practice often.
As part of your prize for winning the tournament, your team is heading to London to practice with Victor Wanyama for a week, what are your expectations for the trip?
(laughing) I know it might seem absurd but I would love to just stay there and grow as a football player. It might seem like a crazy idea but I have learnt to dream big. I also hope to play a lot of football as I learn from a star like Wanyama.
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