Sony Sugar’s rising teen star Joshua Otieno jetted into the country this morning to a rousing welcome by his team mates and family at his home in Awendo, organized by his club.
The 16-year old member of the AllStars squad that played a select side from UK’s Hull City FC in a historic match last Monday, was accompanied by his guardian, coach Patrick Naggi. Otieno had been left behind as the rest of the squad jetted into the country last Wednesday, for a week-long training session in the English Premier League club’s football academy.
Even though he barely touched the ball having been introduced into the match in the dying seconds of the game, the form three student at Kakamega High School said he was nevertheless happy for the opportunity to tour the UK and train at the well-equipped Hull Academy.
“I am happy for the opportunity, the coach had his reasons not to field me but in football these things happen. I am just happy for this entire experience and not bitter at all,” he said from his parents’ humble home at Sony Sugar Estate.
His father Peter Onyango said he was proud of his son, echoing Otieno’s sentiments about his participation in the widely watched match.
“I was not bitter that my son did not play. I was too happy that he got the chance to travel to the UK because of his football skills,” said the 58-year old Cane Transport Supervisor at Sony Sugar.
Otieno drove into Sony Sugar’s Green Stadium in Awendo amid cheers from his peers who play in the club’s development teams – the under 12, 15 and 17 – as well as his family including his youngest brother Isaiah Otieno who plays for Sony’s under 12 team.
His youth coach Dennis Otondi who nurtured him from age nine said he was not surprised that the youngster had caught the attention of the Hull City coaches given his humility, discipline and skill which he said were key for any footballer’s success.
“We are not surprised that he was introduced into the game late. We understand that he joined the team late and had not acclimatized to the UK weather. We are thankful for the chance he got because it was a good exposure for him,” said Otondi.
Otieno’s trip to the UK was delayed due to visa hitches that forced Naggi last weekend to fly back to Nairobi, from London, to pick him since he was the only listed guardian on his visa.
Otondi asked county governments to invest in football academies in their regions to tap budding talent adding that Kenya was teeming with great footballers who only need good training facilities and exposure to excel further.