Connect with us



By Samuel Gacharira,

Barely six years after death robbed Nairobi’s Ziwani estate of one of their heroes popular trade unionist Tom Mboya, the star of the next generation was busy honing his football skills at the famous Umeme Grounds. A determined Charles Handas would rise to represent the hood both locally and internationally.

At the tender age of 13, the uncertain journey began amid numerous challenges ranging from lack of equipment to improper structures. However, the breakthrough would finally come in 1983 where he joined premiership side Scarlet which was based in Lanet a place he would call home for the next six years.

Following the relegation of Scarlet, he had a brief stint at Saba Saba FC in Mombasa before landing at Bata Bullets of Limuru where he spent another four years. Thika based Kenya Textile Mills(KTM) came calling and he responded in the affirmative only for the team to be disbanded a year later prompting him to go down south to Alaskan FC in Malindi.

His 33rd anniversary was a memorable one since he bagged the coveted Kenya Premier League (KPL) title with Gor Mahia. ”It was a great moment for me especially since I had taken a tough decision to leave Re-Union to join K’Ogalo. We represented the nation in the continentals by virtue of being league winners. ”

The light at the end of the tunnel seemed to have come from an oncoming train since the joy was cut short by a deadly career threatening injury. “A fracture on the shin of my left leg almost killed my career since I was sidelined for two seasons. It was a harrowing experience watching the game from the stands. Luckily I recovered well and returned to what I know best.” The injury turned out to be a blessing in disguise since he was snapped up by Coast Stars and was later handed his first ever call up to the national team by Reinhardt Fabisch in 1998.

At the turn of the millennium, he put pen to paper with Oserian Fastac where he won the premiership trophy for three consecutive seasons in the process making a return to the national team in 2002.”The highest moment in my career is my time at Oserian. It was the first team to offer me a professional contract. The match winning bonuses motivated us to work hard and the results were there for everyone to see. Unfortunately the team was disbanded at its peak. ”

Mombasa, which can rightfully be branded his second home, welcomed him back this time playing for Dubai Bank for the 2004 season before proceeding to Bandari where he played for another two years. He finally heeded the retirement call in 2006.”I played competitive football for two decades in a period where passion and the love for the game kept us going. Currently, our players lack self-discipline no wonder they fail trials abroad due to being unfit. During our times, we would train twice a day (mid-morning and evening) and before that every player would do his personal fitness training very early in the morning. I would like to urge the upcoming players to be patient and work hard since football pays well unlike our days.”

Not only is he a CAF level B holder but also Tetra Brazil and KNVB trained. He has previously coached Yatta Combined, Kamukunji High School, Eastleigh Stars and KWS.

‘Sodje’ as he is popularly referred to currently doubles up as Umeme FC coach and the organizer of the Kothbiro tournament as a way of giving back to Ziwani community and the football fraternity at large. ”It is quite unfortunate that the federation has scrapped off tournaments such as Sakata Ball and Copa Coca Cola which tapped talent from the grassroots. Kothbiro is held annually in December. It is a platform for players to market themselves to scouts of premiership clubs as well as interact with foreign based and foreign players. More so, players who have been sidelined because of injury can use this tourney to bounce back into action ahead of the upcoming season” concluded the legend.

Must See

More in