June 21, 2021

Joining Matatu industry best decision I made – Ex-Harambee Stars’ Odhiambo

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The 32-year-old has played for three Premier League clubs but affirmed his current occupation is far better than Kenyan football

Former Harambee Stars defender Mark Odhiambo has revealed why he left football and ventured in the Matatu industry.

Odhiambo is now a driver that plies the Umoja route – in Nairobi’s Eastlands area – and has said joining the public service vehicle business remains his best decision.

He was part of the full Harambee Stars squad that faced Nigeria in a 2014 World Cup qualifier in Calabar in 2013 after he impressed coach Adel Amrouche at Kasarani featuring for Tusker against KCB.

“Touting is what was putting food on my table even before I became a professional footballer,” Odhiambo told Nation Sports.

“I continued doing this although part-time after I joined Tusker. I eventually graduated to become a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) driver and I think it is the best decision I have ever made in life.”

Odhiambo, 32, revealed he invested in the industry while still playing as a way to improve his financial health.

“Driving is a skill like any other and I enjoy it. As a footballer, I realised I had so much free time and that is why I continued doubling up as a Matatu driver,” the Mbotela-born star narrated.

“It is a decision that I don’t regret to date. I managed to save up enough money to buy my own 14-seater Matatu and even though I sold it off later, it improved my financial situation and opened my mind to explore more opportunities in the Matatu industry.”

He stated why there is no need for the Kenyan players to be pressurised into saving money while they remain active on the pitch.

“I keep seeing people telling Kenyan footballers to save money and invest but how do you save when you are not even sure you will get paid?” he asked.

“Salaries in most Kenyan clubs are very little and never consistent. I was lucky to play for Tusker and KCB which are football clubs run by stable companies but what about the majority of players who play for other clubs?

“They are always in a race to survive and get the next meal.”

Odhiambo further revealed he has got no reasons to completely ditch his current occupation and return to football.

“Why would I do that?” he asked. “Football in Kenya is not really a profession you can depend on. I can do both as I have always done but I can never stop driving Matatus because that is what I depend on.

“The last club I played for, Wazito, still owes me over KSh700, 000. I was unpaid for almost a year and I would really be stupid to repeat the same mistake again.

“Whichever club I join, I will still continue driving Matatus. Football is my passion while driving is what puts food on my table and I have learned to do both without any challenges.”