Remembering Chris Makokha: How good was the legendary coach?

The impact of Chris Makokha’s coaching continues to be as important today as it was before he passed on in the darkest hour in 2013. It takes a great manger to build a great team. It takes an extraordinary manager to build two.  Chris won 7 Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) titles with Kakamega High School between 1980 and 1990. He won the title once more in 1995. The Green Commandos had won the title 5 times in a row in 1979,1980,1981,1982 and 1983. A feat no other school has achieved. More amazing he also blossomed with MOW also known as MOTCOM in the National League. These wins brought moments of Holy Communion between the players and the fans.

If the best football coaches were judged on merely the style of football the coaches’ team played, Chris Makokha would be several miles ahead of the rest of the coaches in the country.

The man who led his team from the sidelines is arguably the most important figure in the history of the Green Commandos of Kakamega High School. Twahir Muhidin –the experienced Kenyan Soccer Coach says “I met Chris Makokha my very good friend in the mid 80’s when he was in MOTCOM and I was with Mombasa Wanderers.  I worked with him in the KFF  Youth development Committee headed by the German Manfred Steve together with Jonathan Niva, James Sianga, Sammy Nyongesa and John Champion. Twahir remembers 1986 as the year when Mombasa Wanderers beat MOTCOM 4-0. He says that was a miracle. By then Twahir was the assistant coach to Mohamed Kheri.  The reason the legendary coach is revered is the impact he made on his youthful players by molding them from an early age to superstars. Chris Makokha has produced more players in the national team than any other coach.

Decorated teacher and real football man

 “Being a teacher was undoubtedly an added advantage. His prowess in inspiring the young players is second to none. Despite having a drop in the ocean budget, MOTCOM performed remarkably,” report s Twahir Muhidin.”

Chris Makokha was a great coach! “He could see the potential, ability and the future of a player. He was a perfectionist in his coaching style and tactics. He loved good soccer and was insisting on playing the ball on the ground and simple passing football. He was very intelligent, extremely popular and Mr. efficient”. Points out Jeff Oyando. Those who watched his team play can bear witness. “He believed in pre-season training and in his tactics and style of play however strong or easy the opponents could be”. Adds Jeff Oyando. Chris Makokha and the Green commandos was a perfect match.

Chris Makokha with one of his assistant Mr. Kwendo during a match.

Natural winner

 “Chris Makokha was my physics and Math’s teacher at Kakamega High School and coached me in the school, Kakamega Youth Olympics program and in MOW. He was a very talented coach who never had the word “lose” in his vocabulary. Football was in him and he wanted to show people that you must not have played to be a coach because he was a very “ordinary” player in his time” Washington Muhanji the main stay goalkeeper in the Harambee Stars team and Lanet Scarlets in the golden era of football in Kenya gives testimony.  “He had passion, drive and always learning and watching the best of the best in soccer over the world. He had video cassettes on Pele, Karl Heinz Rummenigger, Socrates, and Franz “Der Kaiser” Beckenbauer. He was and he will ever be a top coach in Kenya. He is the one who made me dumb the fullback position for goalkeeping”. Adds Muhanji the goalkeeper that everyone knows. Chris Makokha was his Coach at Harambee Stars in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in 1988 in Morocco alongside many other super talented players.

Mentor and Father figure

“Chris Makokha was not only a coach but also a mentor and father figure to me and most of the players in the team.” States Maurice Sunguti. Most of the players grow up lacking the basic skills in football since not all of them get the opportunity to be coached. “For me I was lucky to have someone like Chris Makokha who impacted on us technically, physically, tactically and psychologically which made us to become the players that we were.” Adds Maurice Sunguti one of the greatest players to wear the Green Commandos jersey.

“He did a lot. I never knew a lot of aspects in football and I learnt a lot from his coaching. He made me realize football was part of life”. Recalls Mike Kisagi. The legendary goalkeeper was part of a fantastic group of players from Kakamega High School that won many football accolades and made history. After high school Kisagi played for Maziwa fc, Barclays, Gor Mahia and Harambee Stars.  He is the Sports director of KCA University. “We derived a lot of things in football and related it in our daily life especially how to achieve and handle success”. Adds Kisagi. Chris Makokha told his players that football was about enjoyment.

Coach Chris far left. The master mind of the Green Commandos which is
undeniably the most successful high school in football in Kenyan history.
This team was the overall champion of the Kenya Secondary Schools Sports
Association (KSSSA) in  1986.

Beautiful football

“He believed in playing beautiful football especially Brazilian type. One was forced to be a good ball handler, passer and finisher. He knew how to scout for talent across the country. He was in charge of the KSSSA team that won the secondary schools football tournament in Zambia and was very fair in selection” Says Fred Serenge. Chris Makokha encouraged a relationship with the ball by treating it well with skill. The Green Commandos became a unique source of pride and identity of the school.

“He told me that he would make sure the boy from the village makes it to the great heights. “That is me.” Festus Serenge.

Arbitrator

“Chris Makokha was a physics teacher and his subject was certainly not among the most popular in the school. However, Chris was the most popular teacher in the school by a stretch. So popular was he that anytime students got agitated for any reason, which they often did, the only person they could listen to was teacher Chris Makokha. Over the years the school averted numerous strikes just by having Chris Makokha address the agitated students. It is obvious that Chris Makokha had a way with words. His words had a calming effect on the listener both on and off the pitch. I just wonder how many crises he must have averted during matches in his remarkable career.Henry Were (Kakamega High School alumnus 1978-1983). Were is an enthusiastic football follower and the Sports Director of Moi University.

The story of Chris Makokha is really unique. An incredible story. Not an exaggeration. The name Chris Makokha will always be linked to the Green Commandos and Kenyan football.

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