At only 22, Collins Olimba is on a mission that only a select few dare. Driven by passion and ambition, Collins is transforming a community through a football academy nurturing talent and offering hope to hundreds of kids in a section of Nairobi’s Southern estates.
The third year Mathematics major student at the Kenya Technical University, formerly known as the Kenya Polytechnic University College is undeterred by the challenges that he faces. You would expect him to be buried in books all the time but that is far from the case. Courtesy of his love for soccer, he is a qualified coach and a founder of one of the most successful football academies in Kenya.
Collins is the coach of Cheza Africa Eagles, a rapidly rising soccer school for kids formed under the Cheza Sports Foundation. The foundation was founded by Collins and Coach Moses Mbeda, formerly of Ligi Ndogo. Collins is also the founder of the Technical University Ingwe Branch which is the first ever student’s branch of the highly supported AFC Leorpards. He feels privileged to be the chair of the branch and believes his young lads will go on to join clubs such as Leopards and Gor.
“I started my coaching career in 2009 in Mombasa with Cool Boys FC a youth team in Mikindani. My major break in the coaching world came in the FKL Mombasa Youth League sponsored by the then FKL Chair Mohammed Hatimy, where coaches were trained in the Basic Coaching Course. The education expanded my hunger and knowledge of the game,” says Collins.
Before joining campus, Collins also served as coach at Brainwave Talent Centre in Kakamega before coming to Nairobi to study. He was quick to notice the young talented teens in South B and Mukuru slums where the academy currently draws most of its players from. Due to his commitment and effort in giving the kids basic training, he was invited to take part in the Basic Coaching License Training last year, facilitated by the Ministry of Sports.
“Although the positives arising from the Cheza Sports project far outweigh the negatives, we are determined to overcome the challenges. There is no sponsorship and we depend on donations. I pray that well-wishers get attracted to our project and help us groom these young kids.”
Despite the project being only a few months old it has attracted a high number of kids from the neighborhood. However, there is a recruitment process to ensure only committed and hardworking children stay. Training takes place on weekends at Ridgeville Academy South B near Hazina Estate. The target group is children between the ages of 4 -17yrs with kids paying a minimal subscription fee.
Collins believes he has a long way to achieve what he regards as impact in shaping Kenyan football but he has time on his side as most coaches retire at 60 or 70 years. He values his education above everything else but admits that it’s quite a challenge to balance coaching and studies but he would never give up one for the other. “My ambition has no limits.”