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Odeka’s long journey has been riddled with a string of successive hiccups

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I have gone through a lot to make it to the top; all the odd jobs, rejection, harsh treatments… name it, I tell you it has been a nightmare,”— Odeka

The 22-year-old Salim Odeka Hamisi’s dappled journey in football has been a rough ride punctuated by turbulence.

“I have gone through a lot to make it to the top; all the odd jobs, rejection, harsh treatments… name it, I tell you it has been a nightmare,” says Odeka.

“Pamzo has been my long time admirer and I have also always wanted to work with him. So at first before I rejoined Stima, he wanted me to join him at Posta but I had already signed.”

Odeka was born and raised at Kamakoa just next to Obunga in Kisumu County. He learned his football at Slum Totos, a development outfit that drew players from his neighbourhood.  “Slum Totos didn’t last

“I can recall very well I wrapped up as top scorer in Phelgona Cup with seven goals,” says Odeka.

Meanwhile, he attended school at MM Shah Primary School in Kisumu, where football was accorded negligible attention.

He got even more excited and drafted me into the school team immediately.”

He lived up to expectation and fulfilled his role both effectively and efficiently as a right-back.

Impressed by him, coach Patrick enlisted Odeka as a player at Kisumu Municipal FC which participated in the Football Kenya Federation Nationwide League. That was in June, 2009. He was there for two seasons and left thereafter to join Ramogi FC who participated in the provincial league. There, he also lasted for two seasons. His efforts to raise his status hit a snag after a journey to try out for Agrochemicals proved futile.

“I went for trials at Agro but didn’t make it and came back to Kisumu and signed for Palos FC,” said Odeka.

“By then Palos was in Division One and I played there for six months after which I went back to Agrochemical and they recruited me.”

At Agro, Odeka reunited with his former school team coach Patrick Odhiambo and stayed there for three seasons while battling out in the National Super League.

In 2014, he left to join Western Stima in the Kenyan Premier League where the late coach Henry Omino offered him a one and a half year long contract. He would later link up with Odhiambo yet again at Sony in Awendo, Migori. He played there for a season. When his attempt to join both Gor and Tusker fell through, he went back to Western Stima.

What stopped him from joining the sides?

“There were a host of issues which I never want to share but for sure they really brought me down to a point of wanting to quit,” says Odeka. At Stima, he came back and found Salim Babu as the head coach. His last days with the power men was, however, a rollercoaster ride punctuated by unfortunate events, key of which was the withdrawal of the shirt sponsor.

Odeka recalls the most moving moments at Stima when news crept in that they would be shopping for a new sponsor:

“It was so tough on our side but considering that we had running contracts, we just had to do all we could to finish the remaining matches thereafter make moves.”

“Players didn’t welcome that issue at all because it just symbolised the beginning of tough times for Stima.”

He has had his best moments in football. He fondly relives a beautiful goal he netted last season while turning out for the power men against Chemelil Sugar —the first time in his KPL career.

Yet Odeka still believes his best match ever was when he got a lifetime opportunity for the first time in his football career to play against Kenya’s most celebrated side, Gor Mahia FC.

“That feeling of playing against the best team in the league and the top players they had…I just wanted to go out there and do all I had to do.”

“It’s one match that I had been thinking of the whole week and I wanted to rate myself using it because it was also my first ever match against the giants.”

While at it, Odeka falls short of joining the popular chorus by football stakeholders who have been appealing to match officials to exercise fairness when making decisions on the pitch.

“Even though we lost 3-2, we gave a good account of ourselves. Were it not for the match-day officials then, we would have emerged victorious.”

Odeka would like to quickly put behind him their disappointing Kenyan Premier League encounter with KCB last season at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos when they lost 1-3.

“I was captaining our team and I’m one guy who always wants to win. This day, we weren’t up to the task after a whole week of real grind. Losing the match with that margin disgusted me.”

He admits that Bandari’s Yema Mwama and Timothy Otieno who recently decamped from Tusker to Zambian side Naspa Stars have always proved to be thorns in his flesh during league matches.

“They both possess great strength, pace, intelligence and always have their eyes on goal; they are real hustlers and they make you work extra in a match,” he says.

Odeka says his role model is David Owino ‘Calabar’, the Kenyan international defender who currently plies his trade in the Zambian Super League for Zesco United. To prove his admiration for his hero, Odek adopted Owino’s nickname ‘Calabar’ as his own.

On the international platform, Odeka looks up to Sergio Ramos García, the Spanish professional footballer who plays for both Real Madrid and the Spanish national team as a centre back. “In Kenya, I look up to my guy David Owino and abroad is my all time best Sergio Ramos.”

I spend my free time watching documentaries more so of sports personnel or have fun with a few friends or just sit somewhere quiet pondering about my life.

He has this wonderful piece of advice for young people aspiring to make it to the big stage. “Football has got no shortcut. Dedicate yourself in all that you do for you to be at the top here. Persistent determination dictates destiny, practise patience and be a prayer warrior, all things will just fall in place,” says Odeka.

BIOGRAPHY

Name: Salim Odeka Hamisi

Age: 22 years

Position: Defender

Club: Posta Rangers

2000-2007: MM Shah Primary School

2008-2011: Kisumu Day Secondary

2009 -2010: Kisumu Municipal FC

2011-2012: Ramogi FC

2013: Palos FC (six months)

2013: Agrochemicals

2014-2016: Western Stima

2017-2018:Sony Sugar

2019 to-date: Western Stima