As Gor Mahia prepares for a friendly with Everton on November 6 this year, assistant coach, Zedekiah Otieno (Zico) is working extra hard to ensure that they come out of the game as the lead. We caught up with his daughter Natasha Maria Otieno, who tells us more about his football career, family and more
Sandra Wekesa @andayisandra
What is the relationship between you and your father?
I am his last born daughter so, I am the apple of his eye. We have always had a close relationship and I’m glad to have been born in my family.
You come from a sporting family. Tell us more.
My dad is into football; he has always considered it as his sport and has made sure it his profession. However, I have seen him being both a coach and a player. My mother used to play hockey back then when she was in school, unfortunately, she didn’t pursue it after that.
My elder brother played rugby up until he relocated to China for work, and got an injury. He used to play for KCB. Personally, I play hockey for the Strathmore University team. I have played hockey since I was in secondary school in Moi Girls Nairobi. When I was in Form Three, I was picked out to play in the under 18 team.
In a few words, how best can you describe your father?
He is a man of his word. He never waits until it’s too late for him to rectify a situation, therefore, he will always handle the matter there and then.
He also keeps his word in that if he promises anything, he will always make sure he delivers.
How different is Zico in the field from when he is at home?
My dad always makes sure he handles his matter well and avoids bringing the baggage home. While in the pitch, he will appear as if he is under pressure, but when he comes home everything is different. He will light up everyone’s mood and also makes sure that he doesn’t take out what he is going through on us.
Why Zico? I mean the name isn’t even the short form of Zedekiah.
(Chuckles) There was a Brazilian player who used to be called Zedekiah as well and anytime he got to the field he would work magic, his nickname was Zico. Since my dad was a good footballer back in the day he was given the name.
Does he still play?
Yes, he is a team in the estate called Wazee, whereby they meet every Sunday at 10 to play friendly matches. Also during practice, it’s automatic because he has to demonstrate for his team members.
Do you ever get recognised by K’Ogalo’s fans as the daughter to the assistant coach?
Honestly, I don’t. This is because I barely attend functions. However, once in a while I would make sure I show up just for support. Few people know me as his daughter—they include his friends and those I grew up around. I appreciate that he is my dad, but I would like to build a name for myself, especially in the hockey scenes.
Have you ever had an encounter with people who befriend you for connection’s sake?
Yes, growing up, I would notice some guys who could really show that they had an interest in me, but in real sense they were just befriending me to get to join the football scene, or get recognised by my father. I used to find that irritating.
What could you say are your father’s strengths and weakness?
He is persistent in his work; he always makes sure he doesn’t give up on anything despite the hitches. Also he picks himself up quickly, despite the many times he is forced to resign and also being sacked— he always makes sure he comes out of it always.
What are the most memorable moments you’ve had with your father?
When I received my Kenya Certificate of Primary Education results. He was so happy, I remember he kept on calling everyone telling them how I had scored 403 and I was the top in the school!
What do you think stands out about your parents that make you wonder?
The fact that they can spend the whole day watching Afrosinema without leaving the house really amuses me. My dad is an action movies fan, but when it comes to Afrosinema, they can watch the television the whole day without fidgeting.
About Everton, how best can you say your father is preparing himself?
Everton is like a dream come true for him. He is excited about the match and is always talking about it. The team is well prepared and I’m sure they will score enough goals.