Coach Ojienda’s long journey to football management
At the age of five, Robert Ojienda knew that his life and football were inseparable.
Born and raised in Nyakach Katito next to Rae Girls in Kisumu County, Ojienda joined Rae primary school where his love for football started and by 1995 his star began to shine. But being in a rural set up where academies to hone his skill were unheard of, only passion kept Ojienda going.
And it is this passionate passion that saw Ojienda finally get noticed immediately when he joined high school.
“I joined Wang'apala High School in 1997 and straight away my coach, the late Tom Ouma, our chemistry teacher, spotted my talent,” says Ojienda.
Later Ojienda would be made the school captain for the team that took part in the Nyanza South Under-17 School Games at Agoro Sare High School during the Homa Bay County finals (then Homa Bay District).
What he didn’t know was that scouts for the national Under-17 team were at the venue keenly following what he was doing on the field.
His performance against Gogo Secondary wowed the scouts as he came to know later that his exploits in the match saw him selected among other 18 youngsters for the Copa Coca Cola tournament in Nairobi.
This rare opportunity was, however, wasted as he was recalled back to school to concentrate on his final Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams preparations that were fast approaching, something he attaches to his inability to launch his professional football career afterwards.
After high school, Ojienda sought to revive his dimmed football career before joining college.
“While in Narok Teachers College, l was one of the dependable midfielders for our team until l left in 2004,” said Ojienda.
With nothing really coming out of his spirited fight to make it as a player, Ojienda decided to shift his goal to coaching and he says his decision is taking him to new heights.
“l did my basic coaching course sponsored by FKF and finally I’m a CAF C License holder and on this l salute the federation for sponsoring me as a member of the pioneer CAF C class of 2017.
“But the real journey in coaching started when I joined a Dutch course training while teaching at Ojere Primary School in Ahero in 2011 under Football for Water Programme (FWP) sponsored by the Dutch under Kisumu Youth Football Association and later took advanced KNVB training courses free under patronage of coach Francis Kimanzi.”
Ojienda’s coaching abilities came to the fore when he joined the Betika National Super League side Migori Youth FC a few weeks after the start of the 2019/2020 season.
Migori joined the NSL in 2018/2019 season after buying the slot then occupied by the now-defunct Isebania FC who at that time failed to continue with the league due to financial constraints.
Migori’s debut season in the NSL was disastrous. They only escaped relegation on the last day, after forcing a hard fought 1-1 draw with GFE 105 at Awendo Green stadium.
The following season (2019/2020), things seemed to go south in the opening three matches, but magic happened when the team secured the services of coach Ojienda, who was then coaching Homabay All-stars.
The little known coach stunned many as he immediately changed fortunes at the club.
His philosophy of short passes and high pressing when on attack and staying compact when out of possession, worked magic earning Ojienda the Betika Super League coach of the month accolade in October 2019.
He now hopes to return the club to the heights they had reached before Covid-19 pandemic stopped the league.