BALANCING SPORTS AND ACADEMICS: IS IT POSSIBLE?

By Hillary Mukasa

Balancing Sports and Academics is tough but not impossible. If sportsmen don’t plan for their life after sports they are likely to experience problems such as poverty, downward income mobility, unemployment/unemployability, psychological crisis, depression, confusion, lack of direction, substance abuse and marital breakup. This article covers iconic figures in sports who have balanced the two.

Michael Jordan studied at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 1984. Despite his tremendous success in the NBA, Jordan went back to UNC to finish his Bachelor’s degree in Geography.  In 2012 4 time NBA Champion Shaquille O’Neal earned a Doctorate degree in Education from Barry University.  “This is for my mother who always stressed the importance of education.” He told CNN. In 2015 Tennis star Venus Williams earned a Bachelor in Business Administration from Indiana University.

Kenya University Sports Association (KUSA)


KUSA President Mbaabu Murithi (left) and the Secretary General Joseph Sandagi consult each other during the KUSA
National Games in Moi University in December 2019. The games were a great success bringing together athletes from all over the Country

Kenya University Sports Association (KUSA) organizes University-level sporting events all over the Country.  KUSA under its accomplished leaders fosters the personal development of students in mind, body and lifestyle. The KUSA executive is composed of the President, Deputy President, Secretary General, Treasurer, Deputy Secretary General, Assistant Treasurer and the Public Relations Officer. The Conference officials are Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer. There are six Conferences namely KUSA Coast, KUSA Nairobi South, KUSA Nairobi North, KUSA Central, KUSA Rift Valley and KUSA Western.

Professor Wycliffe Njororai Simiyu

“Regarding balancing education and sports here in the US, the setup is such that student athletes get a lot of support. They have study hours and they have tutors to help student athletes to excel” Says the former Athletics Director and Chair of the Department of Exercise, Recreation and Sport Science at Kenyatta University. “On average student athletes have a higher Grade Point Average (GPA) than ordinary students.  Through balancing sports and academics the student athletes are conditioned to be organized, disciplined and proactive in learning. Their time management skills are bound to be better given the demands on their time”. He comments further.

In his second year, he was the Vice captain and then Captain in 3rd year of the Hard Nuts team where they won a bronze medal in the 1984 East African University games at Morogoro, Tanzania. While working in KU in 2003 the scholar with a decorated career was awarded exemplary teacher outstanding scholar award by the African Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sports and dance organization in Abuja Nigeria during the All African Games. In 2011, he was awarded exemplary teacher of the year at Wiley College. In 2016 he was awarded the exemplary teacher of the year at University of Texas at Tyler. In 2019 he was awarded the outstanding faculty leadership award at the University of Texas at Tyler.

RUGBY

Dr. Michael “Tank” Otieno

The name “Tank” is a cool nickname. Which better nickname would be there for a rugby player than Michael “Tank” Otieno?  So one of the greatest rugby players the country has ever seen is now one of its most powerful figures.  Tank has had an extraordinary life and succeeded in everything he did as a player, as a coach and as an academician. The pinnacle of his rugby career as a Coach was beating Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe in 2010 for the first time in history thus winning the inaugural Victoria Cup unbeaten. Coaching KCB from the 2nd Division side to win the Kenya Cup in 2005, 2006 and 2007 was a remarkable performance. KCB won the Enterprise Cup in 2004 and 2007. They were triumphant again after they clinched the Impala floodlit in 2005 and 2007. The rugby icon has also coached the Kenya 15’s and 7’s, Mwamba RFC, Moi University and Blak Blad RFC. Under his stewardship the Kenya rugby team played in the Dubai Four Nations competition in 2012 against Hongkong, Brazil and UAE and attained overall position 2. As a player Tank did duty for the Kenya 15’s team, Nondescripts RFC, Blak Blad RFC, Impala RFC and Mwamba RFC. He started his rugby career in 1975 for Baby Colts at Alliance High School. The rugby master captained the school team in 1979 when Alliance won the John Andrews Sevens for the first and only time ever in the history of the tournament. Tank is undeniably a giant on and off the pitch. The youngster of great promise began his primary education at Xaverian Primary School in Kisumu before joining Alliance High School. He then pursued a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Education at Kenyatta University. Tank believes his Ph.D. Thesis titled “The influence of Socio-cultural environment on talent identification for rugby players in rugby clubs in Kenya” is the first Ph.D. thesis in Kenya in rugby. He pursued this at UoN.

“Balancing Sports and academics needs focus, planning, ability, commitment and discipline. My advice to upcoming sportsmen is to balance between academics, career and sports. Knowledge is the biggest weapon you can ever have since you become immune to blackmail. Never compete with people but compete with yourself. Competing with yourself gives you intrinsic motivation builds on self-esteem and creates unbelievable passion to enable you attain greatest heights you can ever imagine. Believe in yourself and always ask for blessings from God”. Elaborates Tank.

Professor Maina Muniafu (Max)

Why was he idolized? Isn’t he just a rugby player? The rugby legend is an Associate Professor of Natural Sciences in the School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at the United States International University –Africa (USIU-A). The absolutely brilliant Max Muniafu began his academic journey at St Georges Primary School in Nairobi after which he joined Lenana School.  At tertiary level he studied at Kenyatta University (KU) and University of Nairobi (UoN).From the beginning Max Muniafu knew where he wanted to go. He had tremendous drive and determination. The world of rugby knew that he was coming when he started playing the game “I used sports to do well in academics. Apart from relaxing the mind after intense reading, sports allowed me to build positive characteristics that serve me well in the academics to date including (to name but a few) discipline, fortitude, resilience, standing again after falling, respect to others and teamwork with other faculty members. Get into sports 100% since it supplements your mental effort in studying. However ration your time well between the two and focus on a timetable that reduces idle chat hours with non-sports participating students”. Says Max Muniafu.


Max Muniafu (3rd from left) during the Christie 7s in 1988. Barclays A (Blue) reached the final against Barclays B (Yellow).

Max Muniafu played for the National 7’s and 15’s rugby team in the 1980’s. He was in the East Africa Tusker team that comprised of the finest players from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Very few blacks were in that team of 1980’s. He was in the 1982 East African Tuskers tour of Zambia and Zimbabwe.  The star also participated in the Dubai and Honkong 7’s.He has coached the Kenya National 7’s and 15’s, Blak Blad, Mwamba, Barclays and Nakuru RFC.

Dr. Simon Munayi

Some people are born to make an impact. Charisma, passion, personality, call it what you like, Simon Munayi has it. After his Primary education at Muthaiga Primary School Simon Munayi started playing rugby in form one at Lenana School for baby colts. His small size would not allow him to play for Junior Colts. In the next few years he played hockey, cross country and swimming.  He did his A-levels at Kibabii High School. When he joined KU he was invited to join Blak Blad by a gentleman called Pecos Onyango. In the team was Michael “Tank” Otieno who is now his colleague at UoN. In the team there was also Max Muniafu. Munayi became the Captain of the team in his 2nd year and Chairman of the team in his 3rd year. He also played for impala club. The rugby great was a coach player at JKUAT Cougars, Moi University Arsonists, Eldoret RFC, Egerton Wasps and Ulinzi RFC. For 3 years Ulinzi was the team to beat in the Rugby 7’s. He coached the Ulinzi team alongside Chris Okumu and Nick Kusienya. “In 1999 Henry Were and I single handedly hosted the first revised East Africa University Games in Egerton”. Recalls Munayi. Henry a passionate fan of Kenyan football in the glory days in the eighties is the Sports Director at Moi University. “In 1999, I coached the Kenya Under- 21 rugby team which I took to Zimbabwe with Joe Muniafu as the Team Manager” Says Munayi.  He awarded his first degree at UoN, second degree at KU and his Ph.D. at UoN. Currently he is the Chairman of the Department of Physical Education and Sports at UoN in the process of establishing a School of Physical Education and Sports Sciences whereby they will hopefully award Ph.D.’s, Masters, four undergraduate degrees, two diplomas and a certificate course in Sports.  Munayi the rugby legend is the Secretary General of the Eastern Africa University Sports Federation and gunning for the Presidency.

“Sports and academics go hand in hand. As the great philosopher Plato once said a healthy mind needs to live a healthy body. Academics and sports have a symbolic relation; they both require high level discipline to be able to perform well”.

Michael Wanjala

 The prodigious rugby player Joined Strathmore University in 2011 to study a course in Business Information Technology. While playing for Strathmore LEOS the University rugby team he was selected to participate in the Kenya Junior team in Tunisia, Junior World Rugby Championship Qualifiers in Nairobi, International Rugby Board (IRB) series, Tokyo Sevens, Vegas Sevens, Dubai Sevens, Hongkong Sevens and Wellington Sevens in Scotland and Moscow for the World Cup Rugby. “The experience helped me to bring out my potential, the ability to balance my academic work and sports and also interpret the information acquired in class on the pitch and vice versa”. Says Wanjala the celebrity.

The USIU rugby team has played in Europe for the last 6 years up to 2018. “We go to France for a Sevens tournament that has great giants like Oxford and University of Johannesburg”.  Confirms Bonfas Salano the Director of Sports at USIU.

BASKETBALL

Both USIU basketball teams for men and women participate in the KBF Premier League. The basketball team for ladies has won the Premier League twice and Zone five once.  Under the leadership of the able Bonfas Salano the Director of Sports the teams have played from city to city, tournament to tournament. The USIU Flames put up a superlative performance to become the only University team to win the Premier League in Kenya and Zone five. They have represented Kenya and Zone five in Africa Club Championship for five consecutive years. This was 2015 in Morocco, 2016 in Algeria, 2017 in Angola and 2018 in Mozambique. That is quite impressive indeed. “Universities should adopt a model of having mentors among the Faculty for these young students in sports. For instance Prof. Muniafu the Patron in charge of rugby handles academic issues from any player in rugby. I prefer to use him and such organization helps players to balance better between sports and academics”. States Salano.

The passionate Bonfas Salano was the KUSA Secretary General in 2004 to 2007. He was elected as the KUSA Vice Chair in 2016. He was appointed as the FASU Technical Vice Chair for two years running from 2015-2017. The East Africa University Sports Federation Basketball Coordinator from 2004 to date is none other than Salano. He was the Technical Director of the FASU games in at UoN in 2014.

THE UNDISPUTED BASKETBALL QUEENS: The USIU Flames in Luanda Angola flying the Country’s flag high and doing what they do best. Winning.

The Africa Nazarene University teams for men and women participate in the KBF Premier league. The team B for men participates in the NASOKUSA league. The players are on scholarship and the Coach scouts for qualified talented students for Diploma and undergraduate course that apply for the scholarship. After application they are interviewed and vetted. The players are required to attend training for at least 4 times in a week and should attend all the games. All the University rules must be followed and incase a player is summoned for disciplinary the scholarship is withdrawn. “An elite sportsman must take their academics seriously in order to be a productive future citizen. Their GPA and sports talent or skills should weigh equally. No shortcut”.  Pauline Njeru, the Sports Coordinator of Africa Nazarene University emphasizes.

SOCCER MEN

JJ Masiga

Joseph (Joe) Masiga commonly known as JJ Masiga is the only player in Kenya to captain both the National team for soccer and rugby. The super striker who graduated from UoN with a degree in dentistry was a crucial player for Harambee Stars and AFC Leopards. He captained AFC Leopards in their glory days. In the 1980 CECAFA Club Cup he had to leave Malawi just in the middle of the tournament, catch a flight to sit for his final examination at UoN, get back to Malawi, just in time for the final against Gor Mahia and score Leopards two goals. Sadly they lost.

Dan Makori

“When in school of course learning comes first then training but I was lucky to play in the Kenya Premier League. The only difficult part was when I doubled up as as a teacher and player for Gor Mahia”. Points out Dan Makori. He is definitely a role model for the next generation. “I had to wake up so early and attend to students up to 10am, attend training at City Stadium for two hours then go back to class up to 5pm. It needs a lot of discipline in life, concentration and hard work”. Adds Makori.

To upcoming players Dan Makori advises them that “Education and sports are like partners although one is long-term (education) because after retirement or in case of any misfortune in soccer like an injury one can embark on what he learnt professionally. So education first and sports will come automatically”. In his football career he has played for Migori Youth, Gor Mahia, KCB, Ushuru, Nairobi City Stars and Western Stima. When it reached a point of choosing between teaching and the tight schedule brought by Gor Mahia Coach Zdravko Logarusik he opted for the job. “I could not risk because in Kenya football is a thankless career”. Says the football role model.

Michael Olunga

Michael “The Engineer” Olunga the former TUK student causing  nightmares and all sorts of trouble to opposing defenders in the Japanese top tier league.

He is famously known as “The Engineer” after enrolling and studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Geospatial Engineering) at Technical University of Kenya (TUK). After completing his High School education at Upper Hill Olunga demystified the stereotype fact that footballers are not good in class when he joined TUK one of the sporting powerhouse in the Country led by Sir. Maurice Ochieng the Games Tutor. He started his football career at liberty Academy and like other great competitors he walked the walk as well as talked the talk. He played for Tusker, Thika United (now defunct) and Gor Mahia FC where he was their top scorer in the KPL with a total of 19 goals that helped them to clinch their 15th KPL title unbeaten. Fans, media, players felt Olunga. The goals and admirers kept coming whether he was playing for Gor Mahia or Harambee Stars. The striker that ever caught the eye the most in the current generation of footballers in the country has played professional football for Djugarden in Sweden, Guizhou Zhichen in China, Girona FC of Spain on loan and is currently at Kashiwa Reysol of Japan. He remains a key striker in the National team Harambee Stars.

Dennis Munyendo

The midfield maestro played football during the golden era of Kenyan football when fans filled the stadiums. He shined in an era of so many greats. Read and you will know why. Munyendo played when radio commentators such as Ali Salim Manga, Leonard Mambo Mbotela, Jack Oyoo Sylvester and Salim Juma made the football lovers feel football inside their hearts directly from the radio and TV. The legend played alongside Mahmoud Abbas, Josephat “Controller” Murila, Bobby “Six million dollar man” Ogola, Ambrose “Golden Boy” Ayoyi and Wilberforce “Maradona” amongst many.  The gifted boy from Mumias Primary School joined St Peters Mumias High School but could not stay there for long before football giants Musingu High School came knocking the door to admit him as their student. He studied at Musingu and joined Kakamega High School where he completed his form six.

Read also https://mukasah.wordpress.com/2020/05/09/the-giants-of-kakamega-high-school-class-of-1995/

He played competitive football in the highest tier for MOTCOM and AFC Leopards before he was called to don the Harambee Stars jersey. Munyendo doubled up as a player of AFC Leopards and a student at KU where he graduated with a Bachelor of Education degree Science option.  Munyendo played for Harambee Stars against Algeria in 1985 before he suffered a serious knee injury in 1986 which led to him walking with a limb until today. He recovered for the good of the game in 1988. He was posted as a teacher at Kakamega High School and rose up the ladder from Games Master to Director of Studies to Deputy Principal. He was an Assistant Coach to the late Chris Makokha. The humble man was promoted to be the Principal of Emusire High School between 2001 and 2007 whereby he was also the Head Coach of the soccer team. After serving diligently at Emusire he was appointed as the Principal of St Ignatius Mukumu boys where he stayed for a decade. He registered the school team that is popularly known as Tsunami FC as a club and participated in the FKF Provincial League. What more could he have done.

Edmond Bogonko

The immensely gifted attacking midfielder played for AFC Leopards and Harambee Stars when he was studying Horticulture at JKUAT University in the mid-nineties.  The many times I visited Juja those years my friends always gave stories of the gifted player that looked like myths. They reminded me stories such as the one of Lwanda Magere. They said when playing for Juja United the local team around JKUAT Bogonko scored directly from a corner kick and the villagers disputed the goal vehemently claiming that it was not possible to score direct from a corner without any interference. Coincidentally he scored another similar goal from a direct corner kick just like the earlier one but this time the opposing team admitted undisputedly that it was a goal. “Probably even the other was a goal.”  Claimed the village team. They were called banana kicks. In another  instance he dribbled past all the defenders leaving the goalkeeper  the goalkeeper dead on the ground to score and the team from the village disputed that Edmond Bogonko was too good to play against them and the goal be disputed. That was paradoxical. In JKUAT Bogonko is remembered for what he did on the pitch and those amazing memories he left the fans with. Before he could complete his studies at the Juja based University he got a scholarship to study at the Lincoln Memorial University in the US. He was voted the Most Valuable Player in the 1998 All-Gulf South Conference. He was among the leading goal scorers of the University football team.

Peter Ouma

Football is like a heartbeat to him. Peter Ouma played for AFC Leopards in the eighties in the glory days when Ingwe conquered in the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup by winning  back to back three times. Ouma played in the era when fans chanted AFC! AFC! AFC!  and Isikuti dancers entertaining in the Stadium. I wonder if these moments will ever return again in Kenyan football. Between 1978 and 1980 Ouma double signed and played for two teams in two different leagues. It was only possible because of lack of computerization by FKF officials. During this period he played for MOW in the top tier league and Nyundo FC in Mombasa in the Provincial League. “I could study at school up to Friday travel to Kisumu, take a plane to Nairobi and then to Mombasa. Play on Saturday, score goals and leave back to Kakamega by the same means. On Monday morning I would be in class ready to learn. I played for Nyundo FC with my school mate Mike Amwayi another football legend. All this was facilitated by the Patron of the team the late Minister Shariff Nassir”. Says Ouma. Nassir is remembered to be the former President Moi’s Coast point man defender. I will not tell the story further because this is sports and not politics. “I was the top scorer of Nyundo FC and helped them qualify for the t top tier league for the first time. That marked the end of double signing”. Remembers Peter Ouma. The football legend also played for AFC leopards and Hakati FC.

When he was pursuing a Bachelor degree in Economics and Business, he was the Chairman of the KU football team the Hard Nuts and they played in the East Africa University Games on the slopes of Uluguru Mountains the venue being in Sokoine University in Tanzania. He completed his MBA in the same University.

Mike Obonyo

The sporting hero who studied at Flamingo Primary School and Menengai for four years would join Kakamega High School for his A-levels after the scouts of the football giants noticed him. Popularly known as Obi he joined the school together with Tony Lwanga another Kenyan football legend. In Nakuru Obonyo played for Nakuru Olympic Youth that was coached by the late Sammy Nyongesa. While studying a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at UoN he played for MOW in the top tier league. Peter Omedo the zealous Organizing Secretary of MOW facilitated me to fly and participate in weekend matches. He was one of the best Secretaries the team ever had. Obonyo the outstanding football player graduated with a Master’s degree in Communication Studies from UoN also played for AFC Leopards and won the KPL in 1992. He played for the Harambee Stars under- 21 team Under Coach Jerry Saurer. Currently he is the Principal Information Officer heading Public Relations and Communication division at Pensions Department under the National Treasury. He is also a Council member of Kibabii University representing the Cabinet Secretary, National Treasury.

Simon “Seppe” Mulama

THE PRIZE OF HARD WORK: Simon Mulama (center) in the graduation ceremony at Park University

When Simon Mulama went for trials at Kakamega High School in the company of his parent he would not be allowed to return home. The boy was sensational on the pitch and a joy to watch. He already had the quality and a Midas touch on the ball. The new kid on the block was admitted and immediately joined the Green Commandos which is the name given to the school football team. Mulama went on to grow from boy champion to sporting great.

Read also https://mukasah.wordpress.com/2020/06/23/flashback-just-how-good-was-simon-seppe-mulama-the-jewel-in-the-midfield-the-story/

After school he played soccer for AFC Leopards, Mathare United, Ismaily SC of Egypt, Harambee Stars, Skellefter FF and Vasteras IK in Sweden. He was awarded a scholarship to study at Park University and graduated with Bachelors in Criminal Justice Administration. The legend was inducted in the Wall of Fame of Park University after a remarkable performance on the pitch and off it. Currently he is a soccer analyst and commentator at Supersport and Radio Africa Group.

Reginald Asibwa

The soccer legend played football in the years when a match between eternal rivals Kakamega High School and Musingu was electric. The gifted defender studied his O-level education at Musingu High School and his A-levels at Kakamega High School. He was a key player for both giants. Asibwa personified the brand of Musingu and Kakamega schools as he was a great product and did great marketing for them alongside other legends. Reginald Asibwa the no none sense defender was employed at Kenya Airways as a clerk and utilized this opportunity by making sure he enrolled for trainings related to customer care service. “This equipped me with a basic background in aviation including flight operations, on time performance, IOSA audits by the regulators and customer satisfaction. “I was therefore transferred to flight Operation department as route Navigation officer”. Asibwa says. To get equipped with knowledge he went to school of flying where he obtained a Diploma in flight operation and safety at the IATA Center in Montreal Canada. Asibwa trained at the Emirates Aviation College in Dubai and attained a General aviation license as a flight dispatcher. He has also studied at ATNS College in Johannesburg, SITA Center in London and Etihad Academy in Khalifa City in Abu Dhabi.  Apart from clinching the Kenya Secondary School Sports Association National soccer Championship with Musingu High School against Kakamega High in Shanzu TTC in 1984 the football legend played for MOW, AFC Leopards and Harambee Stars.

Read also https://mukasah.wordpress.com/2020/07/25/battle-of-titans-kakamega-vs-musingu-high-school-derby/

 Ronald Okoth

Ronald Okoth during his graduation from Kenya Methodist University (KeMU)

The heavily built soccer star graduated from Kenya Methodist University KeMU) with a Bachelor of Science (Information Science). He has played for Western Stima, Mathare United and Gor Mahia. The football journey man confesses that “Education is always the best fall back plan for anybody and without it you can into depression”. Ronald Okoth led KeMU to winning many accolades in both University and FKF competitions.  Through football he managed to pay his fees. He is a football analyst and the founder of Ronald Okoth Sports Foundation.

Dr. Peter Waweru

The University Don made history when he became the first Kenyan Center referee to officiate a match in the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt in a match between Ivory Coast and Namibia. The day is July 1st 2019. “The pressure which I get when preparing for big matches and the actual matches themselves helps me to comfortably learn to handle work related pressure. A referee is like a Human Resource Manager in a game. You manage players with all mixtures of emotions that may be either disappointing or exciting”. Peter Waweru has a Ph.D. in Mathematics and Computer Science from  JKUAT University where he was a long serving goalkeeper  for the soccer team the Panthers and also served as a the Secretary of Sports in the students’ government JKUSO. The Director of Sports and Games who is also a Senior Lecturer in JKUAT is a FIFA International referee and a CAF Elite A referee. Among the high profile matches he has officiated are World Cup Under- 17, many CAF Champions League and Confederations matches and KPL League matches.

WOMEN FOOTBALL

Caroline Ajowi

COACHING AS PER THE BOOK: Caroline Ajowi coaching the Harambee Starlets U-20 team

Caroline Ajowi has broken through the glass ceiling in matters football.  She is a FIFA and FKF certified Instructor. The CAF level C coaching qualification and other management skills led to her appointment as the Harambee Starlets Under- 20 Coach. Carol as she is popularly known is a Games Tutor at KU. The skilled coach was in charge of the Harambee Starlets Youth team in the World Cup Qualifier in 2017. She led the Starlets Under 20 team to beating Botswana 7-1 at the Labate Sports Complex in Gaborone. They also beat Ethiopia 2-1 at home in Machakos and participated in a tournament in Jordan.  She studied Sports and Recreation at Undergraduate level at KU. The gifted striker won the golden boot when the KU team known as the Desert Roses clinched the East Africa University Games Soccer Championship in 2004. She has been mentored at KU by legendary Coaches former Gor Mahia defender Tobias “Jua Kali” Ochola and the Brazilian trained Senior Coach Vince Ombiji who are her colleagues at KU.  Ajowi played for Harambee Starlets for the first time in 2006. She played in the World Cup qualifier cum Africa Women Championship in 2010. She scored against Cameroon in a friendly match in Kenya. Carol played for MOYAS in the UNICEF sponsored Kenya Women Premier League (KWPL) in 2012 whereby they finished 2nd after Matuu. Caroline Ajowi has balanced Sports and Academics well and she is currently studying a PHD in Sports and Recreation.

Selphine Munyonga

“She is very intelligent both on and off the pitch, very disciplined, hardworking and above all very mature”.  States Alex Alumira the Vihiga Queens Coach. “She was my captain and was it not for the clash between the Africa women Cup of Nations AWCON and the academic calendar of Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST), she had been touted to participate in the tournament in 2016. Vihiga Queens have won the KWPL for three consecutive seasons .She was the top scorer of Vihiga Queens in the 2014-15 season that boosted the team’s campaign in qualifying for the KWPL. She played for Vihiga Queens in the top tier league until 2018. In 2014 she played for MMUST in the Africa University Games in Kenya.  MMUST has been a perennial Champion in KUSA and East Africa University Championships for Women. They were the East Africa University Games Champions in women football at JKUAT in 2016. Their fan the late Vice Chancellor Prof Fredrick Otieno came to witness the games. Selphine studied a Bachelor of Education in Arts.

“Balancing between Sports and academics brings a holistic person in terms of cognitive and psychomotor development. Sports besides benefits like intensive travelling, social interaction and fan associated can also be a career or a source of income. Education comes in handy especially when players advance in age or get impaired through injury. It keeps them in their other careers which keep life going for them. Even if they are to invest the money from sports, they need education to help them make informed decisions”. Elaborates Shisoka Akaka an Assistant Games Tutor at MMUST.

Esse Akida

When it comes to scoring goals Esse Akida is a talisman.  The girl who started playing football at the age of 8 years at Moving the Goal Post in Kilifi was the top scorer in the COTIF Cup in Spain in 2016 and inevitably awarded as the Most Valuable Player. The deadly  alumna of St. Johns High School in Kilifi  has always made scoring easy  and was the 2nd top scorer in the CECAFA Championship in 2016 in Jinja, Uganda with 5 goals one behind the top scorer. When KeMU Queens played in a friendly match against Harambee Starlets at Kasarani Esse Akida did not stop to score against her University. Esse Akida and another KeMU striker Neddy Atieno scored the two goals to beat the scholars 2-0. The date was September 5th 2015. Akida who is gifted with supersonic speed and finesse was also the joint top scorer in the KWPL in 2018 when she played for Thika Queens.  She led KeMU to clinch the Women Premier League Tournament in Nakuru in 2015. Scoring all these goals and more others not mentioned here cannot be a weakness.

Read also https://mukasah.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/esse-akida/

Harambee Starlets Esse Akida signs a two year deal with Turkish top Club Besiktas. Akida has always scored goals from right, center and left.

In 2014 the attacking trinity of Esse Akida, Neddy Atieno and Mercy Odinga ensured that the KeMU Queens won the FKF Division one League unbeaten to earn a promotion in the KWPL. The 9 goals that Esse Akida scored in the East Africa University Games in Uganda in 2014 enabled KeMU to be crowned the undisputed Champions.  The KeMU Queens captivated the imagination of the fans in Uganda. They played with artistry and joy, dancing on the pitch. It was entertainment, fun and that is all football is about.  The Dean of students then Mr. James Kubai, her Assistant Suzan Laimaru and Games Tutor Jeff Kubai and I as the Head Coach were jubilant after the victory as the team had captured the essence of the game.  The same year the Queens were the runners up in the African University Games on home soil.

African Women Cup of Nations

During the 2016 African Women Cup of Nations in Cameroun KeMU Queens produced six players. Cheris Avilia of KeMU scored the historic goal for Harambee Starlets that qualified them to the first ever AWCON.  The headline of the DAILY NATION of Wednesday April 13th 2016 read the name “Cheris Avilia and History as Starlets win Africa Cup of Nation slot”.  While Esse Akida scored the first ever goal for Kenya in the AWCON against Ghana, Cheris Avilia scored the consolation goal against Mali. Whenever Esse Akida and Cheris Avilia played for KeMU Queens it rained goals.

 After graduating with a Bachelor in Business Administration in 2018 from KeMU Esse Akida joined Israeli top team Ramat Hasharon. In 2020 she signed for Turkish top Club Besiktas. She graduated at KeMU in 2018 with a Bachelor in Business Administration.

I was employed in Kenya Methodist on 7th September 2006 after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Information Science from Moi University. Before that it was Internship on a voluntary basis in the JKUAT Library anticipating employment. The enthusiasm for the game prompted me to Coach the JKUAT Ladies team for a year under Moses Ondeng and Dr. Elijah Gitonga who was the Sports Gurus in the institution. Luckily in KeMU I met one man Jeff Kubai on the first day in KeMU and told him my desire for football. It was God sent as he had been employed the same time as the Games Tutor having studied Physical Education as his first degree and Masters in Psychology both at KU. At that point in time he received a recommendation letter from the defunct Kangemi United FC which I played for under Coach Athanus Obala Obango.The other testimonials presented to him were newspaper articles on sports and mostly football that I had written for fun but fortunately they were all published in The Nation and The Standard Newspapers. Those were all the testimonials given to Jeff Kubai and of course the deep passion for the game. Jeff Kubai a former PRO Officer of KUSA for 5 years played a pivotal role in the establishment of most if not all the teams in KeMU and laying up of the sports facilities.

He empowered me a lot as a soccer coach and mentorship to have a professional touch in Sports in a holistic way. He also introduced me to who is who among the Njuri Ncheke in Meru. Under his tenure as the Games Tutor KeMU hosted many Coaching and referee Clinics which also benefitted the Community immensely. KeMU has participated in all KUSA National and East Africa University Games held since 2009 to date. Jeff Kubai later rose to the level of Dean of Students in 2016 and so far we have worked together for close to a decade and a half still preaching sports. When James “Abawa” Sianga conducted a coaching course at KeMU in June 2009 under the auspices of KFF it was a turning point for me since the technocrat became my father figure in football and shared a wealth of invaluable information. Sianga the Kenyan football legend was a football encyclopedia as he was very knowledgeable. Before his last breathe we had talked although for once not about football but the pain he was undergoing in hospital.  How I wish God would have added him a few more years but he is in a better place up there with the angels where there is no headache of winning or losing football matches. The skills he imparted to me enabled both KeMU football teams for men and women to participate favorably in the FKF Division one league. KeMU FC gave teams such as Police FC, Wazito FC, Administration Police and Kangemi All stars a run for their money with their fluid football.  An opportunity to train as an FKF Instructor in 2016 the generosity of Harambee Starlets Head Coach David Ouma in sharing latest Coaching materials has given me the capacity to nurture young kids at BIDII soccer academy in Meru which is the Manufacturing Industry of football talents in Meru County. Currently I am a member of the Kenya Football Coaching Association (KENFOCA) which has the best coaches in the country hence a great platform for networking and learning more from the veterans such as Robert “The lion” Matano, Twahir Muhidin called Sheikh, Jacob “Ghost” Mulei, Technical director Michael Amenga amongst many others.

After being admitted at Kakamega High School my dream was to play in the first team and emulate the likes of Wilberforce Mulamba and Mickey Weche my child hood heroes in football. This was not to be the case as the team was comprised of football monsters that played football that was out of this world. However the school had a good junior team which accommodated me.  The caretaker role I assumed in the senior team of the school enabled me to travel wherever and whenever they participated in competitions and attend the Coaching tutorials by Chris Makokha. I was privileged to learn the Coaching Philosophy of Chris Makokha for four years which I internalized. He never believed in winning ugly. The master was both scientific and pragmatic in his coaching. KeMU awarded me a scholarship to study a Master’s degree in Information Science at KU.

Vincent Kompany

The celebrated player enjoys the lifestyle which comes with being a modern millionaire footballer. Despite rising to the top of his sport, the Belgian remains grounded and committed to education. Vincent Kompany was the captain for both Manchester City and Belgian National team. He graduated with a Master’s in Business Administration on December 29, 2017 at the Alliance Manchester Business School.

Dr. Socrates

Socrates Brasilero the Brazilian football genius and Captain of the 1982 World Cup team

Some called him the last great political footballer, others called him the Doctor of football, skills and assists while others the thinking, drinking footballing genius. He was all. He was the Captain of Brazil’s sublime 1982 World Cup team. The supremely intelligent man begun and completed his course to become a Doctor during his playing days. The “Golden heel” as nicknamed graduated from Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirao Preto, the Medical School of Sao Paolo. 

11 thoughts on “BALANCING SPORTS AND ACADEMICS: IS IT POSSIBLE?

  1. This is indeed a masterpiece article. The coverage from international athletes to the local athletes makes it a must-read article for all sports persons. Its as well a definite material that young sports persons can draw lessons from.
    Thank you for this senior.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very educative article, one that motivates any sportsman worried about balancing sports and education. Great article from a great writer Mr. H. Mukasa

    Liked by 1 person

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