Ben Stanley Omondi: From playing Chelsea, Porto  at 13 to being the main man at Sofapaka

Omondi(R) is presented with the Sofapaka player of the month for March by owner Elly Kalekwa.

FKFPL Ben Stanley Omondi: From playing Chelsea, Porto at 13 to being the main man at Sofapaka

Mark Kinyanjui 07:56 - 25.05.2023

Ben Stanley Omondi has registered three goals and seven assists in his debut top flight season for Sofapaka so far this season

Sofapaka teenage sensation Ben Stanley Omondi has had a relatively unforgettable debut season in the top flight of Kenyan football.

Omondi has scored three goals and registered seven assists for Sofapaka since signing for the club in 2022. On top of that, he helped Batoto ba Mungu qualify for the quarter-finals of the FKF Cup.

The midfielder is considered by many coaches to be a star for the present and future not just for the national team, but potentially abroad in Europe.

His talent was spotted from an early age, as he was part of the Kenya Under 14 team that took part in the Southampton Challenge trophy in 2013 against the likes of Chelsea and Porto (more on that later).

Although he got spotted while playing for Migori Youth, he credits his Mathare background where he stayed until he was eight years old before his family moved to Migori.

Ben Stanley (circled) with the u13 Kenya team that took part in the Southampton Challenge trophy in 2017.

“Most people know I have honed my skills in Migori for Migori Youth but don't know that I also have a background in Mathare, having been raised there until I was in class four when my mom found a job in Migori.

I played for the Under 8s and 9s team and have been growing through the ranks.”

Omondi, who attended St. Peters Mumias Boys High School, continued to prove himself as one in a million type of player.

Prior to joining Sofapaka, he played for Migori Youth FC, where he made his NSL debut as a 16-year-old while still a student at St. Peters Mumias.

After leaving high school, he became a key player for Migori, where his performances earned him a nomination for the National Super League young player of the season, before joining Sofapaka at the start of the season.

“The team got promoted to the NSL when I was in high school at St. Peters Mumias. I would play some games or two, but during the holidays is when I would really play a key part. Upon leaving Migori, that is when I signed up with Sofapaka in the FKFPL this season.”

Omondi says the challenge of playing in the Premier League is significantly higher than that of playing in the second division.

“I have learnt a lot over the season. I was not as lazy as I was in the NSL. In the NSL, It would have been easy to just wake up and go to a match but in the KPL, every game is hard.

“You have to work hard even at home. I have been going to the gym to try and work on my physicality and more. There is no time to be complacent.

“My first season has enabled me to play at a higher level because the players in the KPL are more tactically astute compared to the NSL players and the intensity is higher. I have been taking it match by match which has helped me understand what I need to improve on.”

The 19-year-old wonderkid has developed a near-telepathic understanding on the pitch with Nigerian teammate Sunday Ikhekai, and Omondi credits the fact that both players have had time to understand each other in training.

“I am an attacking midfielder and he is a striker. However, I have had to forge an understanding with the attackers in order to create for them. We know each other's strengths and weaknesses.

“I have assisted him four times already using my abilities on the ball and his ability to run in behind at pace for example."

Attacking midfielders are known to be luxury players as they are primarily creators in the team. As a result, they can tend to be criticized for their lack of defensive intensity.

Omondi however, is the type of attacking midfielder who works hard without the ball, but he admits it was difficult at first before head coach David Ouma started coaching him.

“The coach insists that you have to defend as a team. It is a team game. You have to be in the right shape and the right position without the ball. When I left the NSL, I was poor without the ball but the coach has helped me improve that.

“I want to work extra hard and as the main man in that position, I have to ensure that I work hard to maintain my status in the team.”

The talented rookie says that the influence and experience of the senior players at Sofapaka helped him settle when he had little to no experience in the top flight.

“The senior players helped me settle a lot. Two of them are not with us anymore, Samwel Olwande and Baron Okech. However, Rody Manga is still at the club and has helped me a lot.

"In the top flight, I was nervous and surprised a lot having been exposed to the culture shock of top-flight football. I could not do some things I had the ability to do initially because of it but they were able to put me under their wings and encouraged me.

“Whenever I do my analysis at home, I put their advice on board, which has helped me settle.

Omondi (circled) pictured with his teammates and FKF president Nick Mwendwa in 2017

Omondi has already tasted what it is like to play in Europe having played for the Kenya Under14 in Southampton in 2017 and believes he still has the qualities to do it again as early as possible.

“I want to play in Europe. I am doing everything possible to achieve that dream. I am also surrounded by people who believe in me which has pushed me to push forward. I want to do it while I am still young which will give me time and resources to prepare myself in the long term.”

On top of that, Omondi believes he has the quality to play for the national team sooner or later, and expresses how “proud he would be” to represent the country internationally.

“I am confident that I can become a Harambee Stars player in the future. The coach told me the first time he saw me, saying he saw a lot of potential in me at such a young age.

"The ban to Kenyan football made me doubt whether my dream would be fulfilled initially but now we are back, the hope is back.

“I was not called up in March because I was not on form and trying to get to grips with the top flight but I believe if I become consistent, the call-up, even with the under 23s will come.

“I have already represented my country before when I was 13 when we went to Southampton. We were not able to win the main cup but we won the shield cup.

“I hope to get an opportunity to go to Europe very soon. If not, I hope to become consistent enough in this league next season.

“My target when the season started was to score eight goals and register 15 assists, but it is not bad for a start. I hope I can do better next season!” he concluded. 

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