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From Chapa Dimba to the premier league: 7 stars scaling professional heights

A notable star from the previous Safaricom Chapa Dimba tournament is Kenyan Premier League leading scorer Benson Omalla of Gor Mahia who is on course to break history for the most goals scored in a single season.

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Chapa Dimba na Safaricom still looks to impact youth in various regions across the country, improving lives and clear platform for the lovers of soccer as indicated by Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa.

Read Also: FKF-PL: Omala’s determination for a record as title fight continues

We take a look at various Kenyan stars whose journey is from grassroots to national level through Chapa Dimba.

Benson Omalla currently playing for Gor Mahia

All eyes will Gor striker Benson Omala who could equal Maurice ‘Sonyi’ Ochieng’s record of 26 goals set during the 1976 season before the season ends.

Omala leads the Golden Boot race with 25 goals in the Kenyan Premier League 2022- 2023 season and if he continues with his best form he is on course to break history for the most goals scored in a single season.

Read Also: Safaricom Chapa Dimba: Season 4, from Grassroots to national level

Manyatta United participated in Chapa Dimba na Safaricom football tournament, with Omalla playing in both full seasons of the competition, in 2018 and 2019. It was his exploits in the 2019 edition that saw him signing a contract with Kenyan Premier League (KPL) side Western Stima while still a secondary school student.

“I wanted a bigger challenge locally and I know for a fact Gor Mahia is the best team in Kenya. My goal is to score as many goals as possible for the club and move to a better team outside Kenya in the near future.

 I am still very young and a lot of teams outside the country are following my progress and I think there’s no better place to prove that I am a good player than at Gor Mahia,” says the striker, who looks up to Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga and Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford.

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Benson first made an impression on a bigger stage during the first season of Chapa Dimba in 2018 when he won the Golden Boot in the Nyanza Region and in the National Finals.

“The move happened so fast. We lost to Ombok Red Devils in the semifinals of the Nyanza Region Chapa Dimba Na Safaricom Tournament but I was impressed,” he recalls.

His professional football career began in 2019 when he joined Western Stima.

Sundays were for church, but for Benson Omala Ochieng he often ended up on the football pitch near his home in Nyamasaria, Kisumu.

He also got to travel to Spain with the Chapa Dimba All Stars team, which trained with professionals there and watched a match between Barcelona and Girona.

“We played high-profile friendly matches. That too was a big opportunity for me to improve my game,” he adds.

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The 18-year-old first started playing for a neighbourhood team, Chipolopolo, which was named after the Zambian national football team.

However, scouts from Manyatta United spotted his prowess while Benson was playing in an inter-primary schools match and he was then poached from Chipolopolo.

His father, Peter Oluoch, watched as Benson come alive on the football pitch scoring goal after goal. It eventually became clear that his second of four boys had a future in football.

“Manyatta are a serious organization, with several youth teams from the Under-10, Under-12, and Under-14 going up and they also focus on developing kids wholesomely. The organization is the envy of all kids growing up in the neighbourhood. I was very happy to join,” he recalls.

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Football saw him secure scholarships at Lake Primary School and then at Kisumu Day High School.

“I think that opened my father’s eyes. The fact that football pays my school fees really impresses him,” he adds.

Jentrix Shikangwa of Simba Queens in Tanzania

Shinyalu Academy’s Jentrix Shikangwa is among former Chapa Dimba Na Safaricom players who played an instrumental role for the Harambee Starlets during the 2019 CECAFA Women’s Championships.

Also part of the contingent that travelled to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania were Judith Osimbo and Mercy Airo of Plateau Queens, the 2018 Chapa Dimba Na Safaricom winning girls’ team.

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During the tour, Harambee Starlets went unbeaten and were crowned the 2019 CECAFA Women’s Champions.

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“Since 2007, I have been trying to get a break in my football career and it has been a long, hard road. Fortunately, through Chapa Dimba na Safaricom I was lucky to be spotted and recruited into the National team after I completed high school in 2018. I am happy that Chapa Dimba Na Safaricom also involved girls’ teams because women’s football needs all the support it can get,” said Judith Osimbo, Player, of Harambee Starlets.

Apart from Omala, other players who are Chapa Dimba na Safaricom products are David Majak and compatriot Eric Zakayo of Tusker FC, Benson Omondi, Judith Osimbo, Mercy Airo, Jane Njeri, Cynthia Livondo.

Majak, who has had an illustrious career after featuring for Mount Kenya FC (now defunct) and defending Football Kenya Federation Premier League Champions Tusker won the inaugural Chapa Dimba na Safaricom title with Kapenguria Heroes in 2018.

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“Were it not for Chapa Dimba na Safaricom, my footballer journey would not be the same,’’ says Tusker striker David Majak.

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