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Ex- Harambee Stars striker Henry Motego: We've failed to plan, that's why we are planning to fail

Former footballer Henry Motego during an interview at his Boitangare home,Bobasi in Kisii County on 7/2/2022.(Sammy Omingo,Standard)

We sneak through a thin path in Boitangare village, in Nyamache, Kisii County to a warm welcome from former Harambee Stars striker Henry Motego.

To football enthusiasts, this diminutive man needs no introduction. He was defenders' constant nightmare. A bull by nature. Short and stout but fast in his strides.

He was a striker few defenders would have wished to mark. A man full of terror.

Inside his unfinished three-bedroom brick-walled house, Motego is busy supervising the shelling of some maize harvest.

He quickly fetches us some plastic chairs and ushers us to a corner outside his house. He begins to recount his career in football and his six-year stint at the Kisii County Government, where he was responsible for nurturing talent and coaching the county football team.

Motego Henry in action [photo courtesy]

Here is a man, 56, whose self-possession and modesty thrust him to greater heights in football.

He went to Boitangare Primary school and later joined Kisii High school, where he was for only one week.

He proceeded to Cardinal Otunga High school- Mosocho for Form One and Form Two and later ended up at the once football powerhouse; Itierio Secondary School, where he sat his KCSE.

Henry Motego is probably the most famous footballer to have come from Gusii region. His nickname was Ndovu (elephant), due to the way he could bully defenders.

The father of five and two wives, Motego begins with a word of caution on the government to preside over elections and have a formidable Football Kenya Federation officials in office.

“Some of the Caretaker Committee officials do not have the interest of Kenyan football at heart. These are appointees who could be serving someone’s interests at the federation. We need an election as soon as possible,” he said.

He added that Kenyans have lost trust with how football matters are managed.

Former footballer Henry Motego during an interview at his Boitangare home,Bobasi in Kisii County on 7/2/2022.(Sammy Omingo,Standard)

“We no longer have youth football teams where we can nurture talents. Grassroots football is dead because of massive corruption,” Motego said.

According to the once fiery striker, the country has failed to nurture young talent.

“There are quite few football academies in the country and most of them are poorly managed,” Motego said.

“How do we intend to have a formidable national football team when all we are do is pick players from three regions in the country? Where are our future football players when all we have done is kill the talent right from schools and even villages?”

“Football was my life. I ate, slept and visualised football. And when it was all over, I came back to my small farm hoping that those in charge of sports in the country could do better. I am not happy with how we are wasting away our young and promising talent.”

In his playing days, Motego was not your usual striker. He remembers how he walked away with pride after guiding Itierio Mixed to glory against Kakamega High School. To conquer The Green Commandos wasn't a mean feat.

“I am a product of good football. I feel appreciated by the fact that some private and government institutions have offered me an opportunity to help nurture talent,” he said.

The 56-year-old former Harambee Stars international striker had been hired by the Kisii County Government as a football coach in 2015 before his two-term three-year contract expired last year.

From the savings he earned from his career back in the days, Motego bought a piece of land in Nairobi, where he put up some residential houses. He earns about Sh20,000 a month. He also has a small tea farm at his rural home.

Motego, who last played for Kenya in 1992 at the Africa Cup of Nations in Senegal and Kenya Breweries in 1998, is keen to return to the field one day, this time as a coach.

His first born son Brian, an Engineering student at Kenyatta University, also plays football.

Motego is the second last child in a family of seven. His mother Terresa Bitutu died last year in January and their father, Solomon Motego died in 1988.