Harambee Stars assistant coach William Muluya divulges how football saved him from being a criminal

FKFPL Harambee Stars assistant coach William Muluya divulges how football saved him from being a criminal

Mark Kinyanjui 08:07 - 27.10.2023

The Harambee Stars assistant coach’s passion for football guided him away from a violent life in which he saw friends and team-mates die in "a hail of bullets".

Kariobangi Sharks head coach William Muluya has revealed that football saved him from a life of crime and the potential fatalities that would have come with going down that path.

Initially a promising young goalkeeper, the 37-year-old switched to coaching nearly two decades ago and now, he also serves as an assistant to Harambee Stars head coach Engin Firat.

However, he could not have achieved all this had he chosen to blindly follow his brother and friends who were part of criminal gangs having grown up in the Nairobi neighborhood of Dandora.

"During school holidays, many of my friends were killed in our neighborhood," Muluya told BBC Sport Africa.

"It was always painful seeing them lying in pools of blood.

"These are the people I grew up with. We did almost everything together. My brother had chosen the wrong ways and was in and out of jail.

"I saw criminal activities being planned in our house by my brother and some of my close friends.

"I knew when they were going for missions [and] the weapons they were going to use. But I wasn't willing to be part of it."

Muluya says coaching saved him from a life he could "easily" have pursued alongside his brother, Bernard Lugali.

"Football kept me busy in the time when I could have been in crime or serving as a tout."

At the Dandora dump, other boys were being taught how to handle guns and organise robberies as part of the fight between gangs who wanted control of Nairobi's public transport network.

"I saw my friends and brother doing those things and I was like, 'for me, to make it in life I don't need to get involved'. That's why I've never taken drugs all my life."

While his brother Bernard survived and is now a reformed character, many of Muluya's childhood team-mates at Ajentos did not survive.

"From a squad of around 30 players, there could only be five who are alive," he estimates.

"The other 25 died before they were even 20 - they all died under a hail of bullets."

The youthful coach was able to go to high school thanks to a football scholarship, and it was in his high school days that he developed a passion for coaching.

Muluya admits he had to act as “a shield” for victims who were affected by his mobster friends by returning what had been stolen for them.

"I often served as a shield for those who would be mugged or robbed by my friends," he explains.

"Many times, I heard people had been mugged and I went and got whatever had been stolen and returned it to them.

"I'm able to do it even today through the respect and recognition I've earned in the community through football.”

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