NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 28 – Victor Bosire has won four Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) League titles in a row and named the best player in his last league conquest.
But if things would have gone the other way, he would have been pumping up the right wing on a football pitch, having had opportunities, including a chance to train at the prestigious Aspire Football Academy in Qatar.
He would have joined the list of Kenyans to train at the Academy including Ramadhan ‘Messi’ Agege, Timonah Wanyonyi and Khalid Jumaan but when he couldn’t achieve that feat, he turned his head to basketball and the game equally gifted him another life.
Victor Ali Abondo, Benjamin Oketch, Ronald Omino, Andrew Murunga, Luke Ochieng just to name but a few were some of those he played with in Kisumu.
The point guard won three league titles in a row with Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and added a fourth last season with Ulinzi Warriors, where he also picked up the Most Valuable Player (MVP) crown, one which he also came close to winning in 2018.
“I can’t say that I regret not choosing football, or whether choosing basketball was the best decision because I don’t know what would have come up ahead. But in everything, I am happy I played basketball because this game has given me everything I have today,” Bosire says.
-Jack of two trades-
Simply, he is a Jack of two trades, and a master of both.
“When I was in Form Four, I had an invitation to travel to Qatar and join Aspire, but my dad refused. He couldn’t agree because it was an Arab country and he wanted me to pursue my education,” Bosire who schooled and grew up in Kisumu told Capital Sport.
His selection was the highlight of a sparkling football career at the Kisumu Day High School which also earned him a slot at Kisumu Hotstars, now Kisumu All Stars.
In 2005, he was named the Most valuable player at the Copa Coca-Cola Under-17 games in the Nyanza Region, the games played at the Kisumu Polytechnic.
But how exactly did he end up in basketball despite having so much talent and promise as a footballer? By his own admission, it remains a funny story.
He started out at Nyang’ori High School in Form One, before switching to Kisumu Day in Form Two due to constant health troubles that required him to move to a Day School.
It is at Nyang’ori where he started scratching the basketball itch.
“In High School, people tend to play the game they feel will go furthest because you definitely want to be on outings every weekend. In Nyang’ori, basketball was the bigger sport. Football wasn’t so big and they used to be eliminated at the Zonal levels so I thought I could try basketball out,” Bosire said.
He was introduced to basketball by one of the coaches at Nyang’ori who was impressed with his skills when he watched him play football. He was fast and agile.
Having been a footballer all through, coming through the ranks at Hot Stars from the Under-12 level, basketball was an entirely new sport but it didn’t take long before he developed a liking for it.
“The coach (called Muindi) used to train me on weekends and he introduced me to basketball slowly. I was part of the school team and in Form Two, we reached the Provincial Finals. I didn’t play much but I was part of the team,” Bosire recalls.
-Completely dropped football
In Form Two, he completely dropped football and played fulltime basketball and the coach made him one of his captains. But, in third term, he had to switch schools and head to Kisumu Day and once again, his sporting see-saw weighed towards football.
“When I went back to Kisumu Day, the tables turned once again. Football was a bigger sport than basketball, so I ended up switching back to football. There were so many players we grew up together playing in the youth teams and it was easier to be convinced to get back to football,” Bosire explains.
Seamlessly he glided back to football and in Form Three first term played the Copa Cocacola tourney since he was still under 17 years and with his talent unquestionable went on to be named Most Valuable Player.
While playing Copa, he was also part of the senior school team and played in the second term national ball games where they went all the way to the nationals. Apart from playing for the school team, he was also promoted to the first team at Hot Stars.
Finally, football looked to be taking him places.
But when he reached Form Four, the tide turned once again. This time it was not about switching schools, but at the instruction of his dad.
-Had to play a First Term game
“My dad said I couldn’t play a second term game because I was doing my final exams and he needed me to concentrate on school. So I was given a choice that if I was to play, I had to play a first term game. I still wanted to play and good thing is that Copa was played early in the first term. But then again, I decided to play basketball as well because it was also a First Term game,” Bosire explains.
It didn’t take time to re-adjust as he would still casually play basketball in between football. At that time as well, Kisumu Day’s basketball had improved because of a change in coach.
“The coach had seen me play before and he told me that he knew I could look at basketball beyond High School and really worked on me,” Bosire says.
That year, they surpassed all expectation and reached the Nationals in 2006 despite losing to Maseno High School in the Provincials. Maseno were national champions and that gave Nyanza an opportunity to take two teams to the nationals.
From then on, basketball won the tussle.
After finishing his Form Four exams, the fact that basketball was his destiny was strengthened further when he was scouted by Laiser Hill High School and given a scholarship to do Form Five and Six at the Ongata Rongai based school while playing basketball for them.
“I thought, why not? Because I had one year free before going to campus, it wasn’t such a bad idea after all. It was lucrative,” Bosire says before adding, he still played football for Hot Stars when he went home during the holidays.
-Football became history
But after Form Six, football became history.
He was once again scouted, this time by the United States International University (USIU) who gave him a scholarship for his Undergraduate while also playing for the school’s basketball team which featured in the Premier League.
“They gave me an opportunity to study and play, without paying a cent. For me, this was something big. Even if it didn’t work in football, basketball was now giving me a life. Some people told me I had wasted my talent in football but I don’t look at it that way. Through basketball, I did both my undergrad and masters at USIU,” Bosire explains.
He did an undergrad in Business Administration, majoring on Accounting while he went on to do a Masters in Business Administration- Strategic Management for two years.
Bosire played at USIU for six years, before he made the leap to KPA after finishing his Masters. With basketball now part and parcel of his life, he juggled his work with the East African Breweries with basketball by moving to Kenya Ports Authority.
He is a Territory Manager with the East African breweries Limited (EABL) based in Nyeri.
He would travel every weekend to Nairobi and Mombasa for match days.
“After playing for six years at USIU, I really wanted to win a championship. It wasn’t easy with USIU because we had a new team every time because it is a college team and players come and go. My two former teammates at USIU moved to KPA and that convinced me to go there,” Bosire explains.
And his gamble was spot on as he went on to clinch the title thrice in a row; 2016, 2017 and 2018. He had started his time at KPA by losing in the semis of the play-offs to Ulinzi Warriors but went on to improve that with top podium spots.
“The 2015 loss was very painful because Ulinzi made it worse by marching infront of our bench after they won. In 2016, we met them coincidentally in the semis. They won game one in Mombasa, but we came to Nairobi and won game two and three to progress to the final where we beat Co-Op Bank,” Bosire recalls.
-Not smooth stay in KPA
But his stay in KPA was not smooth in the final two years especially with the company failing to employ players despite promises to do so.
“In the first year, they told us that we needed to win something to have a bargaining chip. We did so in 2016 by winning the title but despite that, they started pulling themselves to fulfil the promise. We tried again in 2017 but they were very dodgy again,” Bosire explains.
In 2018, he decided it would be his final season with the portmen, having been angered by their failure to fulfill promises of employing some players. He bowed out with his third title, with a clean sweep of Ulinzi in the final.
Coincidentally, the same Ulinzi against who there was a massive rivalry, ended up being his new employers. He was initially set to join Equity Bank, but when his bargaining chip of having two of his teammates employed by the bank looked to be headed the KPA way, he decided to join Ulinzi.
At Ulinzi, he went on to win his fourth title in 2019, where he was also named MVP.
-Value their players
“I loved Ulinzi because they do value their players and many of them have found employment through basketball. In terms of remuneration, KPA is way better than Ulinzi but to me, what matters is how the team treats its players,”
“I got my employment currently at EABL because someone in the basketball circles who I didn’t even know and was a highly ranked official recommended me. I made the decision that equally, if I can help someone get employment in the future, then I will,”
“When we perform well as a team, there are opportunities for players to get employment and that is my motivation every day,” said Bosire.
With the challenges of travelling between Nyeri and Nairobi every weekend, Bosire has admitted it hasn’t been easy.
“Balancing the two is quite hard. I usually travel for matches and train in Nyeri after work. But sometimes, the demands of the job are very high and I could miss matches because I have to be at work. But nonetheless, whenever I can come play, it is usually my joy,”
“It helps me a lot to relax, be happy and take my mind off career and in the long run, that keeps me fresh and energized always,” Bosire states.
-Scale more heights-
And now, the 32-year old plans to scale more heights with Ulinzi as well as the national team, where he has also turned out to be an integral figure.
With Ulinzi, his hope is to progress to the final stages of the Basketball Africa League next year. He had the chance to play the inaugural tournament with KPA this year, but passed down the opportunity by joining Ulinzi.
With the national team, the Kenya Morans, his eyes are trained on helping the team qualify for the FIBA Afrobasket Championship next year in Kigali, Rwanda. For the qualifiers scheduled to start in November, Kenya will battle against Senegal, Angola and Mozambique in Group C.
“This is just like a wrestling match where you weigh your opponents and know who you can beat because three teams qualify. We feel that as a team we can achieve that target and we are confident that we will qualify,”
“Due to the COVID situation, we meet every Monday on Zoom to discuss and scout the opponents and we are also training individually at our homes to keep fit,” Bosire explains.