Why teenager Omala is touted as the next Michael Olunga
FOOTBALL By Washington Onyango | March 21st 2020
Whether he is sitting in class at Kisumu Day High School preparing for this year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations or donning the yellow and blue Western Stima jersey at Moi Stadium, Benson Omala will still grab your attention.
Young and lethal in front of goal, Western Stima, Kisumu Day and Kenya national Under-20 football teams feel comfortable with Omala leading their strike force.
Surprisingly, Omala continues to amuse his teachers at Kisumu Day after posting above average results in all his examinations, performing exemplary in both curriculum and co-curriculum activities.
Born in Kisumu 18 years ago in a football family of four, Omala started playing football at the age of five in Nyamasaria slums for a local club called Chipolopolo.
His father, Peter Oluoch, is a former player of Migori Youth and Uzima FC.
His brother Vincent Otieno currently plays for Manyatta United in the National Division Two league.
“Every day after school, I used to walk home passing through the grounds in the afternoon seeing boys playing football with balls made of waste plastic bags. I got excited and joined in.
“It then became a daily routine since it was better than staying idle at home with my parents at work.
“Our numbers grew and that is when a Good Samaritan formed a local club ‘Chipolopolo’ and provided us with two balls. It is at Chipolopolo that my love for football started,” he said.
He continued growing his skill at Chipolopolo while attending primary education at Lake Primary School, but moved to join Manyatta Youth Resource Centre at the age of 10.
“I decided to decamp to Manyatta because I wanted a fresh and progressive development because at Chipolopolo everybody was playing together despite the age group and I could find it hard to play against big and tougher opponents.
“At Manyatta Youth Resource Centre, they had the Under 12, Under 14, Under 16 and Under 18 team categories which developed and nurtured players well.
“Here I found my rhythm and we could see the progress step by step.”
While in school, Omala played for Lake Primary School football team and was selected to play for Nyanza in the 2014 Kenya Primary Schools Sports Association national games.
In 2017, he joined Kisumu Day High School for his secondary education and went straight to the Under 16 team where he played for two years under the close supervision of the school team head coach Booker Odhiambo.
“Omala joined Kisumu Day as a young player with ambitions which impressed me and I decided it fit we manage him carefully for him to grow by playing for the junior team.
“He continued to impress and showed good development in both county and regional games in 2017 and 2018.”
“Last year, we promoted him to the main school Under 19 team where his heroics saw us reach the 2019 national secondary school games where we were eliminated in the group stage by Ebwali and Dagoretti,” Odhiambo said.
While at Kisumu Day, Omala continued his heroics by guiding Manyatta Untied to the 2019 Chapa Dimba na Safaricom national finals in June which they won and was among the 32 boys and girls selected in the Chapa Dimba Na Safaricom All-Star team that attended a training camp in Spain.
After performing well in the two competitions, Kenyan Premier League side Western Stima signed him for the 2019-2020 season in September last year which further opened a door to the Kenya national Under-20 team.
“My hard work paid off especially after emerging the top scorer in the Chapa Dimba na Safaricom and guiding Kisumu Day back to the nationals. I felt even proud after signing for Western Stima and being selected to represent the Kenya national Under-20 football team at the Cecafa games in Uganda last year,” Omala said.
Omala made his debut against Bandari in November last year but it was in December that the teenager introduced himself to Kenyans after scoring five match winning goals in three matches.
His first goal came against KCB at the death before scoring a hat-trick against Zoo Kericho to become the first Western Stima player to score a hat-trick in a league match, which his head coach Salim Babu described remarkable.
“It was unbelievable to watch a 17-year-old kid (back then) score three goals at this level of competition.
“His hunger for goals and resilience is unmatched and I believe he has a greater future ahead of him,” Babu said.
In the same month, Omala became the youngest player to win the SJAK/LG Player of the Month Award after he was crowned the best player for December last year.
Omala has so far scored nine goals for Stima who are seventh in the KPL standings with 36 points, seven points off the top four teams comprising of leaders Gor Mahia (54), Kakamega Homeboyz (47), Tusker (46) and Ulinzi Stars (43).
Babu describes Omala as the next Michael Olunga who will go on and conquer not only the national league, but dominate international leagues if his recent performances are anything to go by.
“Away from Gor, Olunga is scoring goals both for his current club Kashiwa and Harambee Stars after coming from similar football development. I believe with proper management he will be Kenya’s next Michael Olunga,” said the Stima coach.
Omala says his goal is to play all the remaining matches with an eye at winning the 2020 KPL golden boot.
Tuskers’ Timothy Otieno (14) and Enock Agwanda of KCB (12) lead the race for golden boot as Omala, Elvis Rupia (AFC Leopards) and Enosh Ochieng (Ulinzi Stars) follow with nine goals.
“Emerging as the KPL top scorer will be a greater achievement for me especially in my debut season and I am working hard to achieve that goal.”
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