Joto Kali edged out Arusha FC 1-0 in a tight match played at Muhoroni Stadium to win the first edition of the tournament played to celebrate local legends Allan Thigo and Bobby Ogolla who played for both Harambee Stars and Gor Mahia.
James Osure scored the winning goal in the second half as Joto Kali from Muhoroni Ward defeated Arusha FC from Ombeyi Ward.
Speaking after the win, Joto Kali head coach Ibrahim Ateng’ said he is happy to lead a young inexperienced team to glory and called for football stakeholders to continue engaging youths at the grassroots levels regularly and not only during the festive season.
“We had a very young inexperienced team but with very talented young players who need to be mentored and Natured. It was good to see legends in Ogolla and Thigo coming to Muhoroni and we would wish that many to do so to mentor talents down at the grassroots,” Ateng said.
Joto Kali qualified to the finals after narrowly edging out Kiliti FC from Ombeyi Ward 1-0 as Arusha saw off Oneno Nam FC from Chemelil Town Ward with a similar score.
In the third place playoffs, Oneno Nam FC redeemed themselves by thrashing Kiliti FC 3-0 to finish third in the seven-day tournament that attracted over 15 teams from Muhoroni Sub-County in Kisumu.
The winners were presented with a trophy and Sh30000 as 2nd runners up received Sh20000. The 3rd runners up received Sh15000 and 4th runners up got Sh10000.
Former Gor Mahia and Harambee Stars legends Allan Thigo and Bobby Ogolla who graced the event encouraged the young players not to give up despite the harsh challenges they are facing at the grassroots levels.
“It is good to be back at the roots where we thrived in during our days of playing in the early 1970s and 1980s. Don’t give up playing because I have seen good talents in most of you. You never know your lucky day, keep the faith,” said Ogolla who helped Gor Mahia to win CECAFA Cup in 1980, 1981 and 1985
Thigo, who was the guest of honor said they have selected a number of good players whom they are ready to nurture from next year.
“We have picked 15 players whom we will be following up to see ways in which we can help grow their talents. This is a sign of encouragement to those not selected to keep working hard,” Thigo who was inducted in the Kenya Hall of Fame in 2018 said.
Sponsored by Omullo Okowa Foundation, the football tournament is aimed at keeping youths in Muhoroni and its neighborhoods to engage positively by spreading and promoting a peaceful co-existence in the society.
The tournament sponsor, Omullo Okowa, said their main aim is to reduce crime rate, peer pressure and substance abuse among the youth.
“The objective is to engage the youths in the area, as well as to help nurture and tap their soccer talents.”
"We want to give hope and heal lives through sports in the grassroots levels. It's an initiative that has had already started over the years through mini-tournaments and this year we have taken a huge step to make it bigger and better for the players," Okowa said.
Okowa further revealed that the foundation on a larger extent is also trying to celebrate and acknowledge the forgotten Kenyan football legends and heroes by giving a prominent role to play in the tourney.
Former Gor Mahia striker Peter Dawo, Allan Thigo and Bobby Ogolla are some of the local legends who graced the tournament.