Omala, who is the current FKF-PL top scorer with 25 goals, has lauded the transformative impact the tournament has had on his life and career
, His name is Benson Ochieng’ Oluoch. However his childhood nickname, Omala is what many who have a keen interest in Kenyan football know him as. So popular has the name become, people think that it is his actual name.
In the last four years, Omala has gone from being a young player from the Nyamasaria slums, to starring in the Chapa Dimba na Safaricom season one tournament, to winning the SJAK Player of the Month as a Form Three student playing for Western Stima in November 2019, to playing for Gor Mahia and in Sweden.
He currently leads the top goal scorer charts in the FKF-PL on 25 goals, one short of the long-standing Maurice 'Sonyi' Ochieng’s record of 26 in the 1976 league season with four games left.
Omala comes from a humble background which he says has motivated him into wanting to change his family’s fortunes through football.
“Living in the slums has encouraged me to want to do well in football in order to get my family out of that ordeal. As a kid growing up, it was initially playing for fun but upon growing up, I realised it was a career that could play well,” Omala said.
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“My dream was to play in the Premier League, so I was working hard towards that .Chapa Dimba came through for me which made it easier to attract the interests of clubs.”
One of four brothers, Omala started playing football at the age of seven. He was raised in a Christian family. However, he played a lot of football in the streets, which would clash a lot with both his church school and regular commitments.
“I was passionate about football. My dad was initially skeptical of the idea of football, but when he realised that the game was paying and reducing my fee arrears, he started being supportive," he added.
Omala played for Chipolopolo as a youngster, before joining Manyatta United, the side he played for during the Chapa Dimba na Safaricom tournament.
“Manyatta United had a great structure. There were coaches handling different age groups, Under 12, 14, 16, 18, the senior team and also the girls' team. Every team had coaches who helped impart technical skills and knowledge into the players. Manyatta gave me the platform to nurture my talent,” said Omala.
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Omala has become associated with goals, but he actually started out as a defender before switching to striker when he took part in season one of the tournament.
“I started as a defender. I would play as a left back or centre-back in certain games. In the last group stage game before going to the regionals, the game was tight, so the coach decided to play me as a forward because of my height as he thought I would win aerial balls. He put me there in the last minute and I scored the winner to take us to the regionals,” he remembers.
Omala was part of the first all-star team that traveled to Spain for 10 days after he was selected amongst other players in 2018.
“The first time I went abroad was to Spain. It was also the first time to actually board a plane! It was scary at first! However, I learnt a lot from La Liga coaches, especially from a technical perspective,” said Omala.
Omala signed for Western Stima while still a Form Three student at Kisumu Day High School, thanks to Chapa Dimba.
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He has already been linked with clubs outside the country, like South Africa’s Orlando Pirates.
“It was great to sign for Western Stima and a privilege considering many players from the NSL and lower divisions have not had the chance to play in the top flight," he said.
"I only took part in Chapa Dimba for two seasons and got the chance to play in the Premier League thanks to hard work through the tournament."
Omala has already achieved his boyhood club of playing for the country’s biggest club Gor Mahia.
“At Manyatta United, we used to be ball boys for Gor Mahia in Stadiums. Watching them, you were determined to be a player for the club one day. I am happy that it (dream) came true to play for Gor Mahia. But it is not enough. I want to play abroad," said Omala of his ambitions.
“I just have to keep my head down and keep working hard and learn new things. At Chapa Dimba, I learnt how to play in front of large crowds for example, which helped me when I joined Gor Mahia.”
Like many other footballers, Omala wants to play in the English Premier League one day. He is a die-hard Manchester United fan and loves the style of the Red Devils forward Marcus Rashford.
“The English Premier League is watched everywhere. It is a large platform where every player dreams of playing. If our captain Victor Wanyama played there, I also want to play there one day,” he said.
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The Gor Mahia forward speaks in glowing terms about how life-changing the Chapa Dimba na Safaricom tournament has been to him.
“ When you go back home, everyone respects you. Everyone wants to be like you. The young kids look up to you and want you to give them some advice. I train with Chipolopolo and Manyatta even now.”
Even with his newly found hero and status, Omala insists he is still the same man he was before the tournament came through.
“Omalla is a simple man who is chilled out and a friendly guy who interacts well with everyone. He likes music, especially afrobeats and reggae.”
The 22-year-old forward advises players to sign up for the tournament, with registration closing on May 31 on www.chapadimba.safaricom.co.ke
“I want to thank Chapa Dimba for coming through for me because I am a huge beneficiary. Hearing it has come back has made me so happy because it will give other emerging stars a platform.
“ Many players have been asking me how it is like to be part of the experience. They should all register and be part of the experience because it is life changing.”
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