NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 25 – Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Victor Wanyama spent his 26th birthday on Sunday with children from the Thunder Football Academy in Kawangware, just a few hours after arriving in the country from a short holiday in Tanzania.
The Harambee Stars skipper chose to celebrate his special day imparting knowledge and his experience to the kids most of who come from less privileged backgrounds, almost a similar pattern to one he followed before becoming a household name in the English Premier League.
“These are the moments I want to be remembered for; sharing my birthday with these kids. They are the future of football so it’s great sometimes to give back.”
“Also, looking at their background, it is very important for someone to come, share with the their story and show them they can make it despite where they come from,” Wanyama told Capital Sport on the sidelines of his fun-filled activity with the kids.
It turned out to be a dream come true for the young kids from the academy, with the closest they have come to an EPL star being watching them on television.
“I can’t even believe it! I am so happy having him come here really means a lot to us. He has motivated us a lot and given us advice, telling us that with discipline and hard work you can make it to the big stages,” Caleb Balozi, the captain of the Under-15s said.
Wanyama took turns to play with each of the different age group teams, starting off with the Under-6, Under-11, Under-15 and Under-17s as well as the girls’ team.
It was a thrill for the youngsters to play alongside the national icon and they also got a chance to ask him questions, some funny, some serious.
When asked how many goals he has scored in the EPL, Wanyama shot back by asking which of those he has scored they remember.
“Siwezi sahau ile ulifunga Man U bana. Maze sikuskia poa. Team yangu jo! (I can’t forget that one you scored against Manchester United. I didn’t feel good. That’s my team),” one of the kids from the Under-15s said, much to the delight of his teammates and Wanyama himself.
The midfielder gave the players advice on how to make it as a pro-footballer while sharing his journey playing for Country Bus FC in Muthurwa before heading out to the manicured lawns of Europe.
“Leo unacheza kwa hii mchanga iko hapa, but uki focus, u work hard and ukuwe disciplined, siku moja utacheza kwa viwanja poa. Kila kitu inawezekana. Hakuna kitu hard hii dunia. (Today you might be playing on this rough pitch, but if you focus, work hard and be disciplined, one day you will play in the best fields in the world. There is nothing impossible in this world),” Wanyama encouraged the kids.
Thunder Academy director Raad Swais could not hide his excitement at having Wanyama mingle freely and sharing his experience with the kids.
“Most of these kids come from very poor background. You could see it in their eyes today that they are excited. For their own growth and self belief, it is very important that some of these big players who have made it come down here and share some time with them,” Swais noted.
Wanyama was accompanied by most of his family members including elder brother MacDonald Mariga, now playing his football in Italy.