Sony Sugar’s star Joshua Otieno jetted into the country on Saturday from Britain to a rousing welcome by his team mates and family at his home in Awendo, organized by his club.
The 16-year old rising star made it to the last 18 Sportpesa All Stars squad that played a select side from UK’s Hull City FC in a historic match last Monday. He was accompanied by his guardian, coach Patrick Naggi.
Otieno had been left behind as the rest of the squad jetted into the country last Wednesday. He was held for a week-long training session in the English Premier League club’s football academy.
Even though he barely touched the ball due to late introduction into the match, the young star said he was nevertheless happy for the opportunity to tour the UK and train at the well-equipped Hull Academy.
“I am happy for the opportunity, the coach had his reasons not to field me but in football these things happen. I am just happy for this entire experience and not bitter at all,” he said from his parents’ humble home at Sony Sugar Estate.
His father Peter Onyango expressed his joy saying he was proud of his son, echoing Otieno’s sentiments about his participation in the widely watched match.
“I was not bitter that my son did not play. I was too happy that he got the chance to travel to the UK because of his football skills,” said the 58-year old father.
Otieno drove into Sony Sugar’s Green Stadium in Awendo amid cheers from his peers who play in the club’s junior sides as well as his family including his youngest brother Isaiah Otieno who plays for Sony’s under 12 team.
His youth coach Dennis Otondi said he was not surprised that the youngster had caught the attention of the Hull City coaches given his humility, discipline and skill which he said were key for any footballer’s success.
“We are not surprised that he was introduced into the game late. We understand that he joined the team late and had not adapted well to the UK’s weather. We are thankful for the chance he got because it was a good exposure for him,” said Otondi.
Otondi asked county governments to invest in football academies in their regions to tap budding talent. He added that Kenya has great footballers who only need exposure to excel further.