For anyone who have been a keen follower of the Kenyan ladies’ football, the name Neddy Atieno Okoth should be familiar.
Having introduced herself to the national soccer scene while still representing Tartar Girls in her secondary school days, Neddy has seen it all in the game. From the disappointment of not securing a deal outside the country due to financial constraints to helping Ulinzi Starlets earn promotion to the Kenyan top flight, her story has been an inspiration to many young upcoming footballers.
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But whole many would pick her resilience as a motivation, the striker admits things haven’t been easy in her career path.
“Nothing has been easy. I don’t think it’s in football alone but for anyone to achieve their dreams they have to work their socks off. I’m a believer of hard work and that’s how I was brought up. I wake up each day to be better. That’s been my motivation since I knew what football was,” Neddy tells Pepeta.
The striker who had represented a chunk of teams in the top flight had to make a step back to Division One where Kahawa Starlets roped her services this coming just months after she had joined the military.
“I don’t think it was a step back as many people would think,” Neddy opines. “First, I had secured my future with the military job and it’s something Im proud of. Talks of them starting a lady’s football team had started way long even before I joined the forces. It became serious after I had finished my course and that’s how I found myself in the team.
“They had a well set out plan which I liked. They had roped some players I had played with and straight away I knew we had the quality to make it to the top flight in our first season in the division. We achieved that and that’s one of the highlights of my career.”
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While in Divison One, Neddy admits there were challenges but lauded the efforts being put in place by the Football Kenya Federation in ensuring that ladies played more regularly like their male counterparts.
“I think FKF deserves a pat on the back. I don’t think many have the knowledge of the Division One League but the introduction of the Cup games has really helped those in that division. They now have a platform to showcase what they can do. What I would urge the federation to do is to broadcast their games more and schedule the games on better grounds,” Neddy continues.
On her targets with Ulinzi in their first season in the top flight, the Harambee Starlets forward says that they had achieved all they wanted in the first leg and is confident that they can bag the tile come the end of the season even though she would have liked to have an undivided league.
“We had set a target of a third place finish in the first leg and we have achieved that (they are second). We have tough teams here but I believe in the team we have. We can go all the way and win the showpiece. But I would have liked our league to be one. The one don’t give us the luxury of testing ourselves with our sisters from the Western part of the country (Zone B). But that said we have to understand that all lies with the travel logistics but I heard that they want to revert to a one league system which would be a great thing for us.
“I’d want to urge ore cooperates to come on board and even the parastatals to have teams. We can see what Bandari and Tusker are doing with their team in the men’s league and it would be a huge thing for us if the same entities can have women teams as it would encourage more girls to venture into the sport,” she adds.
On her future, Neddy has a sports equipment shop which she says has been helpful in catering for some of her needs.
“We all know football is a short career and I would like my fellow footballers to think of ideas where they can invest. It doesn’t necessarily have to be big but starting something that they can grow with is an amazing thing. I sell sports equipment’s and the response been immense. It’s my part time job and I know it will be a big entity once I hang my boots and that’s something that I can use as a fall back when I’m retired. Yes, I have a job security but this is just to encourage other ladies that they can do these things too,” she opines.
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