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Eric Kapaito… The making of a football legend

The Kariobangi Sharks, fast-paced centre forward, aspires to one day play for Manchester United in England and Barcelona in Spain

By Musa Moilo & Nashon Owano

To football fans across the country, Eric Kapaito is a name synonymous with the game. This was especially after he was recognised as the Most Valuable Player and the top scorer in the Kenyan Premier League 2017-2018 season. But behind the humble, cheerful and fast-paced centre forward for Kariobangi Sharks lies an inspirational story, from his humble beginnings until he attained the national limelight.

Born in Maili Tisa in Kajiado County, Eric grew up like any other school-going children at Enkarboli Primary School, where he found and developed his passion for football. At the time, they lacked a professional football coach, a common problem in most primary schools where the sport is considered a recreational activity.

Eric later joined Kiluani Newlife Secondary School, and was thereafter approached with a scholarship to make a move to Laiser Hill Academy. He recalls that his face was a common feature in tournaments.

His talent and hard work earned him the privilege of travelling to Israel and South Africa, both for studies and football.

One thing led to another and Eric from the sport joined the national super league side FC Talanta, where he was the top scorer with 17 goals. This feet enabled him to make a tactical move to the Kenya Premier League side Kariobangi Sharks.

While most parents are usually torn between supporting the academic lives of their children and encouraging them to engage in co-curricular activities, Eric recalls that his parents have always been supportive of his interest in football.

Rather than put an overemphasis on the sport alone, they encouraged him to strike a balance between his academic life and his budding sports life.

From time to time, his Dad would tag him along to watch football, a move that sharpened his interest and passion in the sport.

Growing up watching notable players, he aspired to similarly achieve recognition.

Looking back at his football journey, Eric reckons that much has changed in football ever since he joined his primary school team. As a professional player, he has to train vigorously, often at short notice. Besides, he enjoys the security and income that comes with being part of a top flight club.

Eric has also ventured into business to help him have a source of income once he retires.

In addition, he believes that more can be done to improve and grow the level of football in Kenya.

His appeal to the County Government of Kajiado and the national government is for them to establish elaborate infrastructure to improve and grow the sport, both at the county and national levels.

Apart from giving young people from Kajiado incentives such as financial support and recognition for their talents, the local leadership also needs to equip and support the county football team. This, he says, would challenge the youth to work even harder to improve their skills and improve sports in the county.

Eric aspires to one day play for Manchester United in England and Barcelona in Spain.

On the African continent, he dreams of playing for Orlando Pirates in the South African league, or any team from the Egyptian league.

Eric advises students and upcoming players that they need to have discipline, sacrifice, hard work, and trust in God. He encourages parents who still lay undue emphasis on academics that it is about time they realised that co-curricular activities can also be transformed into a form of income and livelihood.

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