By Bethuel Oduo
If there is a player I admired during my youth, it was Patrick Shimudu.
‘Shim’, as he is popularly known, was born and raised in Shaurimoyo Estate in Kitale. To date I still consider him one of the unsung heroes of Kenyan soccer.
Shim’s prowess was first exhibited while still a pupil at St Columbus Primary School and later Trans Nzoia Primary School in Kitale. His teachers realised his potential and urged him on. He was soon spotted by the town’s veteran coach Stephen Nato, who also nurtured and developed Sammy Sholei.
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When Kapenguria Boys picked up Shim, Fred Nyongesa and Joseph Mwale, they immediately became a powerhouse and actually won the national trophy once in the 80s under coach Cosmas Nabongolo, who is now the principal at St Anthony’s High School.
When Shim was spotted by AFC Leopards scouts it took almost three years of serious cat and mouse games to finally get his signature. He was your sort of player who was talented but scared of success and too skeptical about venturing outside Kitale, his comfort zone.
He avoided even meeting the many officials from big teams who called asking for his signature. I can attest to the fact that he was a typical case of poor mentoring and lack of credible role models.
On the pitch, he could play anywhere from the wings to the central attack. A soccer match in the town was not over until Shim playing for Kitale FC scored an embarrassing goal against the opponents.
While all that was happening, AFC Leopards were agonising how to replace their goalie Mahmoud Abbas but also sharpen their striking force. Their radar pointed at Kitale FC, a Division 1 outfit in the North Rift.
Their officials led by Alfred Sambu and Peter Lisamula decided to go for striker Shim and goalkeeper John Barasa ‘Ingwe’. Barasa had joined Kitale FC from Chemelil FC then in Division 2. His performance in goal had propelled Kitale FC to the top of the provincial league and attracted soccer scouts.
Coincidentally, at that time, Leopards had a small problem with their striking force. JJ Masiga was caught up with his studies at the dental school, George Olubendi was erratic upfront and Abbas was aging and unsettled. He later on joined Reunion FC.
The Cecafa tournament was due in a few weeks in Zanzibar hence something had to be done quickly. The scouts reckoned that their solution lay with Kitale FC and they zeroed in on two players — Shim and Barasa.
Whereas Barasa was their target for goalkeeper, their Plan ‘B’ was John Busolo, who was the leading custodian for KCC FC in Nairobi.
Coincidentally, the previous night in Kitale town, somewhere inside Elgon Bar on Laini Moja street, a group of soccer players had taken one too many and damaged a few things after a drunken brawl. The culprits included Shim and Barasa.
The ‘small matter’ had been reported to the cops. When the Leopards officials reached Kitale, they made their way to the estates looking for their targets. Their first stop was Bondeni where Barasa lived with a ‘girlfriend’. When he heard the sound of a vehicle outside the house, he peeped through the window and saw a sleek Mercedes Benz parked at a distance. He panicked.
All of a sudden there was a knock on his door just seconds after he had instructed the lady not to open but tell whoever it was that he wasn’t in.
When the knocking persisted, Barasa exited the house through the window and disappeared into thin air never to be seen there again for weeks.
Why did he avoid meeting the visitors? I asked him this question recently in Kitale. Apparently when he saw the Merc, he recalled the previous night’s scuffle at Elgon Bar. His conclusion was that cops had come to pick him up for interrogation and maybe arrest.
Ironically, Shim was found by the scouts and recruited to join AFC Leopards, a team that was looking forward to the Cecafa regional clubs tournament. At the games, he scored the winning goal for AFC during the final match in Zanzibar.
Barasa missed the opportunity and Busolo took his place. Shim was employed by Kenya Railways and currently lives in Makongeni Estate. Barasa is jobless and lives in Kitale town while Busolo is the current goalkeeper coach at AFC Leopards.