Cherise “Maestro” Avilia. More than just a midfielder, more than just a name. – The Story

Cherise Avilia is a midfielder with remarkable talent and a player of great promise. She is one of the best midfielders to have graced the Kenyan football pitches. Her life in football is nothing less than spectacular. She is not the physical type of player but possesses genius and a devastating quality of perfect passing and a panoramic vision.

Avilia was born in Eastland’s, to be precise Kaloleni. There is nothing too spectacular about Kaloleni and Eastland’s popularly known as Eastlando. This is where the stellar career in football would begin for the young Avilia. In Eastlando as she points out, almost everyone plays football. Despite lots of people playing football it’s not so developed in the

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One of the rare opportunities. Cherise Avilia poses in a photo  with FKF President Nick Mwendwa

women category. She went to St. John’s primary school in Kaloleni. The school did not have a team for girls and this forced her and a few other girls interested in football to join the boy’s team during break times and P.E lessons. Her three brothers who also played football influenced her lot to play since she would follow them in the neighborhood and watch them play. In her school days she did not play any other game apart from football. She wouldn’t be anything else apart from a footballer. She had to be a footballer. Football was in the blood of the young Cherise Avilia.

 

First Major Tournament

Her maiden tournament was after she joined Mbotela Kamaliza ladies team and they took part in the MYSA Girls tournament which was a great platform to showcase talent. Mbotela is a fertile ground for football talent and it has nurtured the likes of Brian Mandela, Carlson Mweresa, Marvin Oduor, Benedict Owuor, Derrick Onyango, Rodgers Omondi, Ezekiel Otuoma, Maurice Sunguti, the list is endless. All these alumni of Mbotela Kamaliza have played either in the KPL; national team Harambe stars while some have had professional stints in Europe and Africa. In the women category household names from Mbotela Kamaliza such as Caroline Anyango, Beatrice Achieng and Sharon Were who all play in the Kenya Women Premier League are also Mbotela Kamaliza alumni. Most of them have donned the National colors for the Harambe Starlets.

Illustrious Football Career

In 2004, while playing for Kamaliza Eaglets, they won the MYSA girls tournament U-16 category. They also won the UNICEF soccer Mashinani and the midfield guru was nominated as the MVP of the tournament. In 2010 she participated in the KWPL with Kamaliza. In 2011, she was selected to join the NYTA after an exemplary performance. In 2012, the midfield maestro won the KWPL with Matuu FC. She had come of age and was given her first call up to the National team in 2012 in a friendly match against Ethiopia.

Duty for Kenya

One of the greatest joy of every player is to don the national team colors. This was never different for Avilia when she first got her call up in the Harambee starlet in 2012.

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In 2014, she was called up to play in a qualifier match against Rwanda. In 2015, the midfielder who always kept it simple played in the Rio – 2016 qualifier against Botswana and South Africa. South Africa eliminated Kenya on a 2-0 goal aggregate in the two legged game.

 

 

 

Defining Moment

When Kenya played Algeria in the AWCON decider, Cherise Avilia started on an unfamiliar position on the bench. Despite being on the bench her star showed no signs of fading. Coach David Ouma looked at the bench during the second half and saw a potential savior on the bench in the name of Cherise Avilia. When she was given the opportunity as a substitute, she never disappointed. Her impact was immediate. There is a defining moment for which a player is always remembered.

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Jubilant Cherise Avilia jersey no (7) celebrates with team mates after scoring a heroic goal for Kenya against Algeria to book an AWCON ticket for the first timer

Avilia’s defining moment came when she scored the golden goal that enabled Kenya to qualify on a 3-3 goal aggregate on the away goal rule. This was a historic feat since it was the first time for the women national team to qualify for the AWCON. She added the icing on the cake when she scored a consolation goal for Kenya against Mali in the AWCON in Limbe, Cameroon despite losing all the three matches in the group stages.

Football at KeMU

While most footballers have a problem of juggling between books and balls, for Cherise Avilia, it is a different story. Her prowess in football is directly proportional to her academic excellence. She passed highly her K.C.S.E examination at Nile Road Secondary and her GPA in KeMU for all semesters is per excellence. She is also an academic maestro. When she joined KeMU in 2014, she met a galaxy of other household football names in Kenyan Women football like Samantha Akinyi, Maurine Ater, Ernez Mango, Maureen Mukachi, Kate Syprine, Esther Mazira, Lilian Adera, Sharon Bushenei, Mercy Odinga and Mercurial Striker Esse Akida. The team was participating in the National division one league and had ruled University football for half a decade. They would form the best ever University football team in Kenya and East and Central Africa. This team played a brand of football that captured the purest hearts. Again Avilia was the focal point in the midfield. She was the boss and the leader of the orchestra. Passing the ball was her specialty. This dream team swept aside all their opponents and refused to be beaten.

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KeMU soccer queens in an ecstatic mood after clinching the DSTV Super cup at Mbaraki Stadium Mombasa

Together with Lilian Adera and Esther Mazira, they formed a formidable midfield trio dubbed the “magic” trio. Magic because they had understanding. None had the qualities of the other but they needed each other. Alongside this celebrated midfield of all time, they won Silver in the African University Sports Federation (FASU) Games in UoN, won gold in the East Africa University Games (EAUG) in Uganda, won Gold in the Kenya National University Sports Association (KUSA) national finals at JOOUST in Bondo, overall winners of the International Women day tournament at the Africa Nazarene University and also overall winners of the Women Premier League Tournament in Nakuru in 2015. Avilia helped KeMU win the DSTV Super cup match against Spedag fc of Mombasa by 3-2 goal margin. This match was also a curtain raiser for the DSTV Super cup match between Gor Mahia and Bandari fc.

 

15 KeMU players were selected to play for the Meru County football team in the Women Category in the first Inter County Competition in Laikipia County and they won the overall winner’s trophy and a token of prize money. This was in the battle of titans against hosts Laikipia County who also had several players in the national team Harambe Starlets.

Cherise “Maestro “Avilia the player with a Midas football touch and the joy of the people to watch has had a glittering football Career that goes down memory lane in the history of women football in Kenya.

 

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