Mike Okoth, a retired professional footballer is one of the best strikers Kenya has ever had. He takes us through the life of his son Divock Origi, who plays for English Premier League team, Liverpool
Sandra Wekesa @andayisandra
You come from a family of footballers. Would youintroduce us to your sporting family?
Origi has been a household name for years. We have produced many footballers in two generations and I am glad we are becoming better at it. My eldest brother, Austin Oduor alias Makumu, who is 10 years older than me, was the first in the family to join the line of football.
He played for Gor Mahia in the Kenyan Premier League. My other brothers, Gerald Origi and Anthony Origi played as defenders for Tusker. Austin’s son, Arnold Origi is currently playing for Lillestrøm, in Norwey.
So, does that mean your son, Divock, has had his eyes set on football since he was young?
Divock had always proven to be a good footballer ever since he started walking. He used to watch me play when he was young and he would copy some of my moves when we got home.
How did you make sure he balanced school and football?
He was born in April 1995 in Ostend and grew up at Houthelan, Belgium. Now the difference between Europe and Kenya is that football is part of the curriculum, therefore, you find that thet helps in developing talent as well as give the students formal education.
Therefore, balancing wasn’t difficult for him. In my opinion, Kenya should emulate that.
Divock began his career of playing football in Gnek’s youth academy where he spent nine years before signing for Lille in May 2010.
Which other teams has he played for?
He started off with KRC Genk U17, then went to LOSC Lille U19, then moved to Liverpool.
He played for Belgium in 2014 FIFA World Cup. He is currently playing for Vfl Wolfsburg on loan and he has a five years contract with Liverpool. You played for Kenya.
What is your take on your son’s career path?
I have no problem with my son playing for Kenya. The problem is, in the country, football is not as competitive as back in Europe.
I am much comfortable with him playing in Belgium because it encourages him to grow. However, I’m not the one who influenced him to wear the Belgium national jersey. It was his decision.
What are some of Divock strengths as a footballer?
He is a good dribbler. Anytime he gets the ball you, you tend to see how much passionate he is with it. And I would say, he is good at the striker position.
How do you describe your son on and off the pitch?
He is a quiet guy. In fact, he barely talks in the house. When he gets onto the pitch, however, he becomes a different person. At times I wonder if it’s him at all, but maybe, it’s the passion that drives him to becoming aggressive and more outgoing.
Having grown up in Belgium, does he speak Kiswahili?
Divock is multilingual. He speaks Kiswahili and sheng at home. He might not be so fluent like other children in Kenya, but whenever he comes to Kenya, he fits in perfectly. Other than that he speaks English, Dutch and German.
Is he the only child you have?
Chuckles… No. I have three children. He is my only son though, the rest of his siblings are girls. Apart from football, any other achievement do you pride in? I know if it wasn’t for football taking most of his time he would have been someone great, because he is book smart.