In typical hard-fought progression in the torturous football arena, University of Nairobi (UoN) side Wazito have clawed their way to the epitome of Kenyan football competition in gracious side, baffling many and astounding doubters as they carry with them an ever-growing army of loyal supporters.
Ticking all the boxes in the game, it is one of the few in the country; actually it was the third to comply with the government and Fifa club compliance, which demands for a professional approach to running of clubs and the sport in general.
Born out of the urge to participate in recreation football by a group of former UoN students in 2011, the team has defied all odds, drafted members from far and wide to remain active in a country that sees a high turnover of clubs in the competitive leagues.
So determined has the small army of fans roped in all genders, ages and general public, following the team and present in most of their matches countrywide. Indeed, Wazito pull a bigger crowd to their matches that most in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL), averaging 1,000 travelling supporters and the figure is expected to grow when they plunge into the top league, considering the spread of the UoN alumni in the country.
“The team was formed in 2011 from the ambitions of a small number of former university students who thought of the idea of playing football and through that, a determination to play in a competitive game saw us register many fans from the ex-UoN base and interested parties lured into the team by our exploits on the field,” says Luthers Mokua, the club CEO. But it has not been a walk in the park despite the performance on the pitch.
The professional ethics instituted by the team’s leadership has seen fortunes improve for better, improving with times as they sought to get the best in terms of technical expertise, a vibrant playing unit and adherence to the rules of the game.
Alongside the vibrant management, a board of trustees that serves on a pro-bono basis, drawn from a pool of welwishers. Currently, PR practitioner Kentice Tikolo serves as chairman and new patron principal secretary Sammy Itemere took over this year.
“You can recall that when the new Fifa and Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Compliance requirements came into force, we were the third team to comply. With that, there is a physical office, professionals undertaking roles they are well conversant with and ensuring that all is required to be in conformity with the aspects of the game,” says Mokua, one of the pioneers of the club.
The team formed in 2011, had their first taste of football through an initiation at the defunct Moi Golden Cup (now GOtv Shield) in what was a purely feel-good tryst by the collection of players bound by their old university connection.
It has been a gradual progression in each of the leagues they have taken part in, leading to revamped NSL in 2015, the only league that they played twice in before a spectacular appearance in 2017 that saw the defy odds, learn new ropes in the demanding league before gaining the qualification to play in the same league as some of the country big teams, among with the country’s best players.
“From that, you can see that we had the determination and drive to do the best. We managed to keep focus, maintain player discipline and inject professionalism to bring out results that are evident from the way we have kept our heads up and managed to qualify.
You can also see that the only league we marked time was in the NSL in 2015 and 2016. Eventually, we had a good run in 2017 and this led to the qualification to the Kenyan premier league, something that comes with added responsibility,” Mokua says.