A player so amazing and inspiring in equal measure. The decorated football journey of Mary “Toto” Kinuthia- The Story

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Nostalgic moments with Mr Football. Gifted Harambee Starlets forward Mary “Toto” Kinuthia with FKF President Nick Mwendwa before the AWCON in Cameroon.

In the stellar world of Kenyan women football, Harambee Starlets looms larger than most. Team to some of the finest Kenyan women players, yet one player symbolizes half of the Harambee Starlets products. A symbol, someone who should be imitated. One of the finest players to grace the Kenyan soccer fields. The team is of course Harambee Starlets and the player is Mary “Toto” Kinuthia, undeniably a giant in the game.

Road to the Promised Land.

Known in the footballing world by her nickname, “Toto”, Mary Kinuthia was born in Kitale. The nick name came as a result of the baby face she possessed. She was destined for greater things as the girl from the farming hub of Kenya made impact and success was inevitable.

She started playing football at Sirende Primary School with the boys’ team. Here at Sirende Primary is where the astonishing football career of Mary Kinuthia would begin to blossom. Already as a youth she possessed mesmerizing footwork, instant control and predatory instincts in front of goal.

A talent of football had been discovered early. Football being the game that we live and breathe was the springboard for the gifted player since her performance inevitably attracted a four year football scholarship at Wiyeeta Girls Secondary School.

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Young and talented. From left girl wonder Mary Kinuthia, Pavel Zwak (center) and Irene Diana with MYSA in an exchange programme in Czech Republic

Football ability was the first to catch the eye of the scouts from Wiyeta a giant in Secondary school football in the country. Mary Kinuthia was the player we wish we were. She had outstanding natural talent and was just made for football. At Wiyeeta Girls Secondary School under Coach Tony Mukhwana she emerged as a champion in the Kenya Secondary School ball games.

When she was football queen

At the local scene, Mary Kinuthia has proved that charity begins at home. Her outstanding talent made her the undisputed MVP in the 2011 Safaricom Sakata ball championships both in the Nairobi region and nationally. To be the best nationally in anything is never a mean achievement.  The previous year in 2010 the girl with burning ambition had won the KWPL with Mathare United ladies under Coach Austine Ajowi. In 2012, the charismatic figure won the KWPL with Matuu Heroines under Coach Bob Okalo assisted by another former superstar Doreen Nabwire.  Matuu FC was a project of NYTA. In 2016, she won the KWPL with the mighty Thika Queens under Coach Richard Kanyi who is also an FKF Instructor and the new Harambee Starlets Coach. Apart from winning the KWPL with Thika Queens she also won the golden boot alongside phenomenal striker Esse Akida of Spedag fc.

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 Footballs Iconic moments. Mary Kinuthia (Jersey 23) and other Harambee Starlets’ players listen to President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto at State House after qualifying for the AWCON for the first time.

Glittering career at Harambee Starlets

The call up of Mary Kinuthia to the National team was the pinnacle of success and a driving force. Her football career accelerated under sensational coach David Ouma. She was an unbelievable player who made the difficult look easy. The small physique she possesses never denies the talent in her feet. Just like those before her donning the national team colors is usually the finest hour. Mary Kinuthia is gifted with sublime skills and scored sublime goals for Harambee Starlets notably against Botswana, Uganda, Burundi and Morocco. She was in the squad that was first runners up in the CECAFA championship in Tanzania and participated in the COTIFF Cup in Spain. She was in the Harambee Starlets squad that made history by participating in the AWCON in Cameroon for the first time ever which goes down into the history books of Kenyan football. The combination of three aces Mary Kinuthia, Neddy Atieno and Esse Akida upfront comprised the Harambee Starlets Striking Trinity. While Neddy Atieno and Esse Akida both possess lightning speed and ferocious shots at goal, Mary Kinuthia has perfect ball control and no look passes and is also a dead ball specialist. The combination of these three strikers sent fevers to all opposing opponents.

Born to lead

As famous for her sportsmanship as her footballing prowess,

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Ever Green Captain Mary Kinuthia of Harambee Starlets (green) and Uganda Captain before kickoff in the CECAFA Championship in Tanzania. She never disappointed.

 

Mary Kinuthia was appointed as the captain of Harambee Starlets during the CECAFA Championship. Amazing and inspiring in equal measure, the Marist college alumni led Kenya to a respectable silver medal accolade. In Tanzania, her immaculate sense of leadership reflected on her immaculate appearance on and off the pitch.

Invaluable Lessons from Coach David Ouma

Mary Kinuthia believes that the characteristics of a good coach are being a mentor, firm, knowledgeable, realistic, objective, flexible, patient, committed, consistent and fair.

She was a firm believer in Coach David Ouma’s football ideology for the time he has been the Harambee Starlets head coach. She learnt a wealth of knowledge from the undoubtedly successful women coach in Kenya. From Coach David Ouma she admits to have learnt to always put God first, how to lead and being top. She learnt always to be disciplined and smart in the way you portray yourself. She learnt from coach Ouma that he believed in them when no one did since he saw the inner potential in a player thus giving them an opportunity. Another invaluable lesson Mary Kinuthia learnt from Coach David is that a player should be like a soldier and should always serve the country with devotion and dedication.

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The prize of hard work. Inspirational Harambee Starlets Coach David Ouma received with both hands the 2016 SOYA award for the Sports Team of the Year in the Women Category after a stellar performance.

 

Kinuthia points out that “Coach David Ouma always emphasized that there is no small team and big team. He always encouraged the starlets to achieve victory with focus and determination”. These lessons have nurtured Mary Kinuthia into a bonafide superstar with rare intelligence. She is the “peoples” leader. A great servant leader she is.

Her aptitude and attitude are close together. As a player, she has been molded to become irreplaceable and sometimes irresistible.

Role of FKF to Harambee Starlets

The decorated player attributes the tremendous performance of Harambee Starlets to the priceless support of the Federation to the Kenyan football queens which was per excellence. She applauds FKF president, Nick Mwendwa, for being the leader of the pack in supporting their footballing needs and interests. Through his stewardship, Harambee Starlets have been kitted like a true national team and that has been a great morale booster.

The energetic and visionary FKF leader has facilitated many friendly matches for the Harambee Starlets against teams such as Cameroon, in a home and away friendly, Crested Cranes of Uganda in Kisumu, away in Morocco and colleges from USA. The starlets also featured in a high profile tournament in Spain in the COTIFF tournament. The president also supported the team fully in their participation in CECAFA and AWCON. This is by all means a remarkable contribution to the national team. Previously the National women team was neglected and not given the weight it deserved. Thanks to FKF for the transition in women football. With a sound women league in the country the sky will be the limit in women football in the country.

Mary Kinuthia in a nutshell

Mary Kinuthia is a Mayweather and Tiger Woods of football. She is imaginative as intelligent and a bonafide football superstar. Her football dedication has brought beautiful rewards. The charismatic figure is by all means iconic and a legend of the game.

 

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