Dear K'ogalo maestro Eric ‘Marcelo’ Ouma, vuta stool and listen

Eric in action [Photo: Jonah Onyango]

Dear Eric,

As I wish you a Happy New Year, my assumption is that you will still be a K’Ogalo player in 2017. I know your contract was due to end in December last year, and I am sorry I did not remember to find out which mtaa team you joined for the pre-season estate tournaments.

As long as you don’t pick up any serious injuries, the tournaments are good for psychological and physical shape up.

Eric, you were named the Most Promising and Emerging Youngster at the 2016 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) Awards. You deserved it and congratulations.

I have followed your soccer from your days at Kakamega High School’s Green Commandos, a team I hold very dear as my nephew, Seif Mwinyi, was your goalie when you took the national trophy in 2012.

Watching you play in 2016 was a joy. You confirmed what the Luos describe as tin tin oken midekre (small is not being mediocre’).

The glory was crowned when you wrestled Abouba Sibomana from the left back and put him on the bench permanently. This you did by combining your defence and attack capabilities.

Your delivery of crosses was pinpoint and superb. Your speed and stamina was a nightmare to lazy opponents. Your height gave you the best centre of gravity, an added advantage in full flight.

Your discipline on the pitch is unmatchable. You rarely retaliate after a hard tackle. You hardly argue, gesture or throw your hands at referees. You have never disputed their decisions or used funny sign language to show your displeasure. You always kept your cool.

Your paycheck and, you’re only 20, is too good by local standards. You can afford to stay away from seedy mitaa. Your confidence under pressure caught the eye of the national team and in your first season, you were on top flight soccer. Few players manage that. Your parents must be very proud of you.

Now, back to the realities of a footballers’ life. I hope fame will not get to your head just because you are among the hottest properties in Kenyan soccer.

We have seen players declared ‘Player of The Year’ losing form and playing matope shortly after being feted. It can happen to you. Some attracted foreign scouts only for them to sneak back.

Estate chicks, the kind who prey on young players, will be waiting for you. Most are ‘war veterans’ adept at the art of seduction.

They will innocently ask for your cellphone number before stalking sessions begin, and with it, the end of your soccer career.

Other estate chicks will offer to embroider fancy hairstyles on your head while others will send you ‘lunch’ through M-Pesa because ulicheza poa sana jana.

These war veterans have taken many a player down the drain. At 20, you may not know them, but most are older than you by a kilometre of kamisi.

Many good players fell by the wayside like Man United legend George Best, who once confessed his weakness for ‘booze, birds and fast Ferraris’. He ended up losing (his) ball(s) and keeping birds and booze when he couldn’t afford fast Ferraris.

Then there are brokers and con men waiting on the wings, ready to sell you for a song, ‘Marcelo’. They will promise to sign you up with clubs with funny names in a country called ‘Scaramanga’. Sign on the dotted line and shortly you will be on your way there with a stop-over in outer Mongolia.

Before 90 days are over, you will be back home after failing to get play time. You will be begging to join your old club. I heard rumours that you are still interested in your academics and might not leave Kenya soon. I hope you are serious.

Michael Olunga had the same thinking until big money came calling. I hope he’s balancing balls and books in Sweden.

Finally, as I wish you a happy 2017, remember you only have about nine years left in your soccer career.