Home Human Impact Meet James Omondi: A Football Icon Nurturing Talent and Changing Lives in Kenya

Meet James Omondi: A Football Icon Nurturing Talent and Changing Lives in Kenya

by Naomi Wanjiru

Meet James Omondi – a retired footballer who wears many hats. He’s a coach, mentor, scout, and football official in multiple capacities, one of them being Nairobi Region Chapa Dimba coordinator. James knows the Kenyan football scene in and out as a veteran footballer who has played from grassroots all the way to national and international leagues. He is proud of his past and ongoing contribution in football having scouted and mentored lots of young talent, some playing in local leagues and others abroad. He is currently scouting for Chapa Dimba where he says he has spotted massive talent through the seasons.

James has many achievements under his belt, one of them being his alumni who are flying high in local and international leagues. To name a few, there is Sylvia Wakungu who is currently in Austria thanks to football. She played for Harambee Starlets for some time before being scouted and moving to Austria. He also mentions Sunira Manda who he recommended for the national under 20 team and she traveled to play in Cameroon. Sylvia was also among the best players in Talanta Hela tournaments in Spain. She’s a star courtesy of Chapa Dimba, having been scouted in Season 4 where she emerged MVP.

James has great appreciation for Safaricom for organizing and running Chapa Dimba, terming it as the best thing that has ever happened to grassroots football. Other than the games themselves, cash prizes, kits, balls, TVET scholarships and discovery and nurturing of talent are of great impact and motivation not only to players, but also to football officials like him who have been building the game for years. His plea to Safaricom is to keep Chapa Dimba going since it has proven to be a life changer.

He is also excited about the wearable technology that Safaricom has introduced into the football scene, which he says is a great addition to capture finer details. Accurate data is very valuable reference point for scouts and technology should be embraced fully.

What do scouts look for when identifying football talent?

Skill and natural attributes like speed, physical strength, grit, and determination among many other factors. Players with these traits will always stand out.

What advise does he have for young aspiring footballers?

Look up to coaches since they are the chief educators about the game and have immense knowledge and motivation. Towards this, he also opines that there needs to be training of more grassroots coaches as a steppingstone to better grassroots football.  

To parents who are skeptical about letting their children pursue football, James advises that not everyone is cut out for academics and sports offers very good alternative careers. Support your children by attending matches, purchasing the required kits, and allowing them time to go for practice. Parents are a major cog in grassroots football and their participation will go a long way in empowering their children to pursue possible stardom.

He is himself a testament to the power of football, having had a successful football career up to the point when he retired to be a coach, mentor, and scout. He has travelled the world as a player and official, with quite an impressive track record in the game. Other than playing for Kenya 17 times, he has won leagues here, Seychelles, Ethiopia, Qatar, and Oman. He was also the first Kenyan to play for Vietnam. Football has been very good to him, and this is the same offering it could lend to upcoming players.

Grassroots football is not without its challenges, most of them being around resources. Teams do not have enough balls, cones, and kits and it is good that by providing some of these, Safaricom has set the tempo for further support. With subsequent seasons of Chapa Dimba, it is clear that the impact and ripple effects of the tournaments will uplift hundreds of players and their communities as well.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.