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Charles Okwemba poses at his sports shop in Komarock. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Football

Life after football: AFC Leopards legend Charles Okwemba excelling in sporting apparel business

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 3 – After retiring from active football, former AFC Leopards midfield kingpin Charles Okwemba has delved into business, putting up a successful sporting apparel business as well as a transport and logistics company, spreading through Nairobi and Busia.

Okwemba, who also doubles up as a youth coach as set up the CEOM Sports House, a sporting equipment business with two branches in Nairobi and one in Busia.

The midfielder says he had planned for this long before he decided to hang his boots after two seasons with Vihiga United in 2018.

“I have been doing this since 2005. I started small in Busia, just selling apparel from my house and gradually, we have grown to where we are today,” Okwemba says, speaking to Capital Sports from his Komarock branch.

He adds; “I was juggling between the business and football when I was actively involved, but since I retired, I have now had more time to concentrate on it because business really needs your presence. It was challenging when I was playing but now I have dedicated more time to it.”

“Business is not bad at least I am getting to settle and concentrate more as I give my contribution also to the sports industry in Kenya.”

For Okwemba, his business has given him a livelihood and a shoulder to lean on after his earning from football ended and he believes this is something that every player should put into consideration.

“When you are a retired player, it is not 100pc the government’s responsibility to look out for you. As much as they have a role to play, you have an obligation to prepare yourself for life after retirement,” the retired midfielder states.

Okwemba, who has had a flowered career spanning to over two decades believes that as far as football is a Plan A, a footballer always needs to have a Plan B and C and even D if it goes to that extent.

“It is very important to look at your life after football. It is not about having a choice. As much as you concentrate on football and give it 100pc, you must have something on the side. Football is a good career but things happen and you need to have another plan,” explains Okwemba.

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His business offers sporting equipment solutions to schools, universities, local and league teams as well as individuals.

He has not only put up a business for himself, but also offered employment opportunities to others. He is now looking to open a fourth branch either in Luanda or Maseno as he looks to dive into wider markets.

“I also have a transport company which I operate in Busia. We have a track and two vehicles and hopefully, we can expand that too. I would like to encourage my fellow footballers to ensure they make huge consideration on what they do after football. It is very important,” adds Okwemba.

Apart from operating his businesses, he has also partnered with three other coaches to start up a small academy in Komarock.

“I started my coaching even when I was still playing. I used to work with youngsters in Shauri Moyo then I moved to Komarock. I also have a foundation that I have been using to empower youth through sports. I help them secure education through their talent and get teams as well. I have also employed some of them and that is what I want to continue doing,” Okwemba adds.

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