EDWIN ESHAPAYA: THE SPORTING ICON IN MERU

By Hillary Mukasa
Captain Edwin Eshapaya introducing Meru Mutindwa Bombers players to the guests of honour Kiraitu Murungi the Governor of Meru  and Professor Margaret Kobia currently the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Public Service and Gender before a football match at Kinoru Stadium.
(Photo-Courtesy)

It is easy to find a good worker, a good soccer player or a good hockey player but it is difficult to find someone who can perfectly balance the three. If former Kenyan football legend JJ Masiga balanced football, rugby and his medical profession perfectly, then here in Meru we have our own Edwin Eshapaya who has balanced work in the Police Service, football and hockey excellently. “I do manage both hockey and soccer since I have a schedule to train both. I do hockey drills from 5.30 am to 7 am in the morning then attend soccer training sessions in the evening after work. This ensures that I balance the two” Says Edwin Eshapaya. The youths need to emulate him in balancing sports, work and family life. “Most of the time I am performing my duties as a Police Officer and the little time I have in the early morning when I wake up and in the evening after work I dedicate it to sports” Very encouraging sentiments from Eshapaya.

Playing football the big man’s game

Nicknamed Ramos after the Real Madrid central defender Sergio Ramos, Edwin Eshapaya played for Meru Mahakama FC at County level and his invaluable contribution as a player and leader led the team to play in the FKF Division 2 Northern Zone in 2016 and 2017. The rock solid central defender was the Captain of the team and a pillar in the defense. In 2018 the ever inspiring Eshapaya was the Captain of Meru Mutindwa Bombers which played in the FKF Division 2 Northern Zone.  The MMB defense led by the ever ambitious Captain alongside other defenders in Washington “Ochido” Muhande, Antony “Bena” Murithi, Brian “Lefty” Gikundi, Martin “Puyol” Kirimi, and Brian “Sige” Mugendi was water tight. Between the sticks there was Oliver Tambo, Lewis Mwenda or Joseph Owino. In the midfield there was Ibrahim “Blacky” Mwiti, Noor Munene, Melvin “Pass Master” Muthomi and Godfrey “Pastor” Koome or Ernest Maregwa. Up front there was Godfery “Messi” Mugambi, Dennis “Neymar” Mwiti, Wenstone Kimathi and the speedy Emanuel Okumu known as Mwalimu because of his teaching career. The team finished in a respectable position 5 in that league. The patron of MMB was the MCA Municipality Ward Elias Murega, the Chair being Bonface Ouma and the Team Manager Calvin Otieno a Lawyer so passionate about football and a true gentleman too. Sylvester “Bongo” Owuor and Hillary Mukasa were the Coaches. Sylvester “Bongo” Owuor has been remarkable in supporting football in Meru and his contribution is priceless and unmatched. Sylvester Owuor has given the youths in Meru a great opportunity to nurture their talents. Players from BIDII Sports academy in Meru have been great beneficiaries and got a great opportunity to play in the FKF Division 2 while still in high school. This story is neither about Meru Mutindwa Bombers nor is it about Meru Mahakama FC, nor about BIDII Sports Academy but it is about Edwin Eshapaya christened Omuami to mean a King in Luhya.

MERU MAHAKAMA FC: Captain Edwin Eshapaya squatting far right. Standing extreme left and right are the Team Manager and the Chairman both Judges.  (Photo-courtesy, Dan Hibichu)

Meru Mutindwa Bombers Versus KeMU FC derby

Edwin Eshapaya the Captain of MMB has always lightened up the derby against neighbors KeMU FC by his never say die spirit during the derby. The derby is usually the talk of town two weeks before the action day. Kaaga football pitch is the preferred venue of the epic duel. To the football lovers of Meru Municipality the derby is what the El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona is for the Spanish or what the Milan Deby between AC Milan is for the Italians or what the Der Klassiker between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund is for the Germans. When players shift from MMB to play for KeMU FC it always raises a lot of heat as a result of the rivalry. This sometimes brings a cold war for several weeks and this rivalism is part of what makes football sweet.  Despite the rivalism on the pitch the two teams partner in several football activities for the good of the game. The rivalism ends as soon as the referee blows the final whistle. I asked Edwin Eshapaya the challenges facing football in Meru and he had this to say.

Challenges facing football in Meru

  1. Lack of commitment from young players
  2. Lack of enough support from the County Government
  3. Unhealthy  competition and rivalry by teams
  4. Inadequate training facilities and equipment’s
  5. Unfriendly behavior from some locals to non-locals

The way forward

The zealous sportsman had a number of suggestions on how to improve the standards of football in Meru.

  1. Leaders to come together and support raw talent
  2. Locals to appreciate the noble role played by non-locals in the growth of the game of football because most of the latter help whole heartedly without pay.
  3. The County Government should come in handy and support the beautiful game of football and the youths to explore their talents and boost the name of the County.
  4. Initiation of soccer academies in different Sub-Counties within the region to nurture raw talent.

Hockey his best loved game

“I have been able to balance sports and work by simply being disciplined. That is time for work is time for work and time for sports is time for sports too.” Points out Edwin Eshapaya. In the field of hockey Edwin Eshapaya is an icon and has followed the footsteps of his elder brother Ken Nyongesa. Nyongesa has been the Captain of the Kenya National Hockey team for close to 5 years and currently plays for Butali Hockey Warriors of Butali Sugar. “I have been a sports ambassador in the Police Service thus being allowed and given time to participate in sports” Adds Eshapaya. He played in the Kenya Hockey Premier League from the year 2008 to 2011 for Karate Axion. He also played for KCA in the top tier league. The top tier league involved commuting far and wide hence it was a challenge for the passionate player to cope which led him to join Thika Rovers that plays in the National League that is next to the Kenya Hockey Premier League . Eshapaya was voted the 2nd best player in the National Hockey league. The year is 2019. He has been the Most Valuable Player (MVP) on a number of occasions in hockey. He was the MVP in the Kimathi Hockey Tournament in 2006, 2014 and 2016. As a player for KeMU he has won the Meru Open Hockey Tournament in 2012, 2013,2015,2016,2018 and 2019. Edwin Eshapaya was the promising young player in the Kisumu Open Tournament in 2006. “I love hockey more than soccer because it pays me allowances during matches and during training” Says the hockey star. 

Edwin Eshapaya of Thika Rovers is chased by two JKUAT players during a League match at City Park
 Hockey Stadium

Memorable success as a Hockey Coach

As a coach the hockey maestro steered Meru School to qualify for the East Africa Secondary Schools Games. “This was my greatest achievement ever. It was the first time for a team from Eastern Province to qualify for the East Africa Secondary Schools competition.” Recalls Edwin Eshapaya with nostalgia. When he   coached the KeMU Hockey team winning the Kenyatta University Hockey Tournament in 2012 in the KU Cultural Week Tournament was inevitable. Success in hockey always follows him wherever he goes.  In the 2015 Kenya University Sports Association (KUSA) National Games in JOOUST in Bondo the KeMU hockey team was the most promising young team and they were ranked 4th overall. The Coach was none other than Edwin Eshapaya. He still Coaches the KeMU hockey team whenever he is called upon to do so. If I were to write all the hockey achievement for Edwin Eshapaya it would be a book.

In his concluding remarks Edwin Eshapaya had this to say “I am not yet ready to retire in sports until I play alongside my son in the same team and mentor him to be a great leader. That is when I will have achieved my dream.”

6 thoughts on “EDWIN ESHAPAYA: THE SPORTING ICON IN MERU

  1. He is a good coach too.. Together with Enock wangila a meru school teacher they both managed to lift Kenya’s flag up in the East Africa hockey championship.
    Meru is amongst the best hockey teams in Kenya currently standing at position 3. After kamusinga and Kisunu Day

    Like

  2. This is absolutely the truth for I happen to know him personally from 2012 to date plain truth. A very disciplined, dedicated, devoted n passionate about the game. Kudos bro.

    Like

  3. Good job Skipo..You’re a true definition of a mentor to the upcoming youngstars and the community at large..God bless you as you go up the ladder of success
    #keep Gid first

    Like

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