NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 22 – For a second consecutive season, Jane Njeri finished as the Central Region Chapa Dimba na Safaricom girls golden boot winner, having netted six goals to aid her team Falling Waters to a second consecutive crown.
But Njeri, 17, would have turned out different had she left the scars of her past come haunting her down. Instead, she chose to drown her sorrows on her God-given talent which now looks well on course to guide her to dine with kings and queens.
The story of the teenager who idolizes Brazilian pair of Marta and Neymar is that of hope, determination and a drive to make the best out of her life.
-Lost father, forced to flee
On a fateful day in January 2008, Njeri, then just four years old living in Eldoret with her family, was rendered homeless together with her family, when the outcome of a national election bore violence that resulted to the killing of more than a thousand people across the country.
Njeri and her family, not only lost their home and property, but the bread winner of the house as well. Her father would fall into a statistic as one of the more than 1,000 people who lost their lives in the infamous post-election violence.
They were forced to flee to Naivasha where they settled at an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp.
“I was young but I remember that life was so difficult for us. We had to stay in a tented camp and mum had to struggle to feed us and provide our basic needs. We struggled a lot until when we were given permanent houses and then mum got a job to help us out,” Njeri, the fourth born in a family of five states.
She suffered lots of trauma and the sorrow of losing her dad at such a young age had a huge bearing on her.
“It was sad but at the end of the day, some things are beyond your control and you just have to accept God’s will and try to make the best of the life you have at the moment,” she said, a sad grim beginning to show on her face.
-Solace in football
The soft spoken, pint sized assassin however found solace in football. She used to play alongside the boys when in school, just as a way of enjoying herself and seeking happiness.
But when she moved to Falling Waters High School in Nyahururu, it transited from a hobby to an actual activity she took serious.
“The school had a girls’ team and I began playing there. That’s when I discovered that I really had a talent and started taking it seriously. My mum had watched me play and she used to encourage me a lot and she always told me that one day, my talent will change our lives,” she stated.
And just four years on, her career seems to be taxing on the runway, ready to hit the skies especially at a time when women’s football in Kenya has taken a turn for the better.
“I want to work very hard and use my talent to help my family. I want to help mum and my brothers because I don’t want them to go through the same life that we had when growing up. I know it is possible and I will keep working hard,” she stated.
Having also scored six goals to finish as the top scorer in last season’s edition, Njeri earned the right to enter into an All-Star team that travelled to Barcelona for a training camp and she hopes for a second consecutive season, she will be on a plane to Spain.
-Lessons from Barcelona
“I really learnt a lot when we were in Barcelona last year. I learnt about professionalism; keeping time, preparing well for games and taking everything you do serious. Going there opened my eyes a lot and it motivated me more to try and be a full professional,”
“I watched Messi and Barcelona play live and it was one of the best days ever. I would have never known that at one point in my life I would be there. Now I don’t want it to be a once in a while thing. I want to actually go and play for a big club there,” the confident Njeri states.
Having finished her High School Education last year, Njeri now looks to sign for a Premier League club and also dreams of playing the national team, Harambee Starlets.
“Last year there were several clubs that came to try and sign me but I refused because I wanted to finish school first. This year I am now ready and I hope I can get a good team. I also want to play for the national team because that is the best platform to get noticed internationally,”
“One day I want to be a star just like Neymar and Marta. I am working hard to achieve that. I know I can do it,” she further asserted.
Her immediate focus though is on helping Falling Waters clinch the Chapa Dimba national crown having fallen in the semi-finals last season.