Anyone who has been close to the Harambee Starlets team since 2016 must be well conversant with the name Irene Ogutu.

 

Ogutu was part of the formidable defence that propelled the Starlets team to their first African Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) Championship that was held in Cameroon in 2016; the defender, then at Oserian forming a perfect partnership with the current Starlets captain Dorcas Shikobe.

 

Unknown to many, Ogutu has now been out of action close to three years now after ditching football to concentrate fully on her work at the Oserian flower farm.

 

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In a candid interview with Pepeta, Ogutu admitted that she had less option in choosing football over her work due to the surgeries she has had.

 

“I picked an injury three years ago and thought it was just another normal injury. After the pain persisted, the club advised me to go for a surgery which I did. I had been given a six months’ recovery time to be back in action but when I came back after rehab, the same knee got a knock in a friendly clash.

Ogutu (Jersey 3) in action for Harambee Starlets during the COTIF Tournament in 2016

 

“After some rest pondering what to do next, I decided to undergo another surgery. It’s been five months now since the second surgery and all this time I have been working on the flower farm to stay afloat since I had exhausted my savings. The situation has been worse since we were sent home on forced leave following the COVID pandemic,” Ogutu said.

 

Ogutu further admitted that she has been in contact with the Kenya Football Welfare Association (KEFWA) towards the same and thanked her friends who have been helpful during a period she describes as tough.

 

“I have been in contact with KEFWA and they have been positive about my situation. Quitting football wasn’t an easy decision but I had to pay my bills and working as a full time employee in the flower farm was the only option.

 

“It’s been tough on me but I have to thank my friends for their continued support. I want to play football again. I want to be part of the national team again but first I’ll need another surgery to correct the knee for good,” Ogutu added.

 

Reached for a comment, KEFWA through Communications manager Terry Ouko admitted that they were in contact with the player and were doing everything to ensure that she is back in action as soon as possible.

 

“Irene is part of our program aimed at journeying with injured players dubbed “Road To Recovery.” She has had a niggling knee injury and has been out of action for about two years or so. It is our hope that after undergoing rehab sessions with close monitoring in Nairobi, she will be able to swing back in action in a few months,” Ouko said.

 

Ogutu, who also does refereeing on the side was part of the Starlets team that finished second in the 2016 Council of East and Central Africa Football Association (CECAFA) Women’s Championship in Uganda and featured in the COTIF tournament hosted in Spain the same year.

 

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