Ulinzi Stars striker John Mark Makwatta says the Sportpesa/SJAK footballer of the month award will be a motivation for him to work harder though he maintains that individual accolades will not occupy his mind more than team performance.
Makwatta became the second winner of the monthly award after Gor Mahia’s Ali Abondo and he received the trophy at the team’s training camp in Nakuru, at the Afraha Stadium.
The striker received full military honour while receiving the gong from Sportpesa’s Kester Muhanji, including an escort from the team captain Stephen Ochollah and his assistant James Saruni as well as a guard of honour from his team mates.
“It is a huge honour to receive this award and being recognized from what I have been doing. I cannot say this award belongs to me but to my team mates. I have been scoring goals but away from that, they have been the ones giving assists and pushing me to perform well in each match. I want to thank them sincerely and the technical bench as well as the team’s management for all the support.” Makwatta pointed out.
“This is a challenge for me to work harder because being number one is easy but maintaining the stay there is the hardest bit.” He acknowledged.
He believes Ulinzi can win the league this year and he points out he wants to play a huge active role in seeing the club achieve the target.
“For me, it is not important what I want to achieve as a player. My biggest target at the moment is helping the team perform well and I believe we can win the league. If we keep working the same way we are now, we will pick it up. At the end of the season what will make me smile most is seeing the team achieve,” he added.
Makwatta joined Ulinzi towards the end of the 2013 season and after that went straight to the Recruit Training School (RTS) in Eldoret where he trained as a soldier. He came back towards the close of the 2014 season, making a handful of appearances and scoring twice.
He was mostly used as a substitute as at then, the military side had a prolific scorer in Stephen Waruru. However, when the pint-sized baby faced assassin left for military duty, all onus was now on makwatta to move from Waruru’s shadow and into his own man.
And true, he has fit the bill just fine as he has scored seven goals thus far, being the second best scorer in the league, just a goal shy of the leading pack of Meddie Kagere, and Ali Abondo (Gor Mahia) and Jacob Keli (AFC Leopards). In the month of April, he scored in every game Ulinzi played, a total five goals and also had two assists to his name.
He says he looks up to his old ally Antony ‘Baggio’ Mbugua who currently plays in the Israeli League with Hapoel Jerusalem.
“He inspires me a lot because he made it to Europe straight from the academy without necessarily playing in a league. Locally, my team mates inspire me and Boniface Onyango plays a great role in keeping me in check because we played together at City Stars and we have known each other for long,” Makwatta added.