NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 21- Harambee Starlets Striker Esse Mbeyu Akida was feted as a heroine of Kilifi County on Thursday during the Mashujaa Day celebrations at the Karisa Maitha Stadium in the Coastal town.
Akida, who sharpened her football skills under Moving the Goalposts (MTG), a Non-Governmental Organization based in Kilifi, was recognized for her achievements and ascent to the national women’s football team.
The award was received by her mother and officials from MTG on her behalf as she was away in Morocco in a training camp with the Starlets
“Thank you to the County Government of Kilifi for the recognition to be bestowed upon Essie Akida Mbeyu today, a true heroine who has brought glory to our country with her football skills,” MTG Chief Executive officer Rachel Muthoga said after the award was handed out.
Speaking to Capital Sport from Morocco, the pint-sized goal poacher could not hide her excitement after getting wind of the news all the way in Rabat.
“It is such a humbling moment for me because I could never have thought something of that magnitude can happen to me. It is a huge honor for the county government to recognize my efforts and it has made me have an even bigger urge to do better,” the Starlets striker said.
Akida was feted as the top scorer in the COTIF tournament in Spain last July and also earned the same accolade during last month’s CECAFA Women’s Championship in Uganda after scoring five goals in both tourneys.
She also played a crucial role in Starlets’ victory over Algeria which handed the team a qualification to the African Women’s Cup of Nations for the first time in their history.
“She truly deserves coming this far and doing so well to make MTG proud as an alumni. She has cut herself out as someone the girls back in Kilifi want to emulate because every girl now wants to be like her. She is a role model to the community,” Harambee Starlets team manager Doreen Nabwire stated.
Akida was among the six football players who joined MTG in 2002 during its inception and has been an active player who represented the organization in various tournament within and outside Kilifi as well as Kwale Counties including the Kenya Premier League that MTG participated in 2014.
The forward got a scholarship from MTG Pathways Project to join Kenya Methodist University (KEMU) in September 2014.
Despite giving up on football to concentrate on her degree course in Business Management, she found herself drawn back to the game due to her passion and was drafted in the KEMU school team which also participated in the FKF Women’s League.