At just 10 years of age, Dennis Ongwen Otieno was already passionate about football. At that time, he did not envision that he would do much with his talent especially because at first his mum would hear none of it. Fast forward, he is now the founder and coach for Victoria Sports Academy which clinched second place in the Nyanza Finals of Safaricom Chapa Dimba.
Born in East Gem in Siaya, Dennis went through quite a bit of rough patches in his early life, including moving to Nairobi and losing his mother when he just 12 years old. The idea of Victoria Sports Academy was actually born in Deep Sea slum in High Ridge Parklands. That was back in 2006 during a particularly rough stint for him when he spent a lot of time in the streets of Nairobi. This is where he started teaching kids football and that is how the initial stages of VSA came to be.
Dennis’s schooling was in Nairobi for both Primary and Secondary where he received a lot of support from well-wishers, teachers, and the church. To date he holds special gratitude to one Madam Musa who was among the first to acknowledge his love for football and to mentor him through it in primary school. He credits Kileleshwa Primary School and Consolata Shrine for where he is today in terms of sports, education, and life. This instilled in him the urge to give back to society, and what better way than with what he loves most. Football. VSA takes in disadvantaged girls and sees them through school while at the same time nurturing their football talents.
In 2019, Dennis relocated to Gamba where he was born because he felt that the village needed him. He started Victoria Sports Academy all over again, this time in the village where he was met with a lot of skepticism and even accusations of being a cultist who was there to recruit girls for sacrifice. At some point he was reported to Yala Police Station but the then OCS understood his course and let him carry on.
By mid-2020, Victoria Sports Academy was taking shape and getting noticed by schools, local leadership, and the church. Dennis was also active on Facebook where he posted their activities and this drew the attention of friends and donors from abroad, case in point Sarah MacLeod from USA who supports in education the girls to date. The group also attracted the attention of some friends from Italy who support them with football kits, shoes, balls, school uniforms, and mentorship for the girls. He cannot forget also Rose Solomon from USA who sponsors some girls to school and supports them with spiritual materials like bibles.
Dennis whose motto is God First is glad that from very humble beginnings, Victoria Sports Academy is going places. Currently the are in the process of building a Victoria Sports Academy Resource Center with plans to start with a library, changing rooms and an ablution block. He also dreams of constructing a computer room when resources allow.
To Safaricom, he would like to extend lots of gratitude for Chapa Dimba, seeing the exposure it has given the girls, the good competitiveness that it has put them through and of course the prize money of Ksh.150,000/- which he will use to improve the welfare of his players.
PS: At some point Dennis’s mother embraced his talent and become his biggest fan and supporter, even buying his football shoes and kits.