•But the Kariobangi Sharks forward's upbringing in Maili Tisa in Namanga led him to a different path unlike his peers who followed the community's world renowned traditional way of life.
• I also used to watch a lot of games on television and I admired the way Thierry Henry and Didier Drogba used to play — Kapaito.
Coming from the pastoral Maasai community, football could have been the last thing Eric Kapaito embraced while growing up in Kajiado County.
But the Kariobangi Sharks forward's upbringing in Maili Tisa in Namanga led him to a different path unlike his peers who followed the community's world renowned traditional way of life.
"Culture is important for the well being of a community. It is what makes every society have its own pride and identity that can be taken up by different generation," Kapaito's intelligence in that explanation clearly captured.
"I did not go through the ordinary life of a Maasai boy, herding cattle and hunting. For most of us born in Namanga, it was all about playing games and making fun in the streets," the 2018 Kenyan Premier League Footballer of the Year narrated with a laugh.
Kapaito reveals that with few role models in his neighborhood, taking up football was an inspiration that came naturally.
"I just loved playing football and from an early age, I was really good at it," he emphasises.
So good was he in the sport that he had his secondary school fees paid for but at the expense of changing schools.
"My early achievements was getting a scholarship when I was in high school at Kiluani High School. We were playing against Laiser Hill and I played well and the games teacher from Laiser Hill — Kirimi offered — me a scholarship which I took without hesitation," recalls Kapaito.
"Where I come from there are a lot of tournaments and I used to win top scorer and player of the tournament gongs which came with big rewards. This made me believe that one day I could play in the Kenyan Premier League."
With no top-flight talent to look up to, Kapaito's role models were his brothers and the boys who played for their local side.
"I also used to watch a lot of games on television and I admired the way Thierry Henry and Didier Drogba used to play," he reveals.
Undoubtedly talented, the young man from Maili Tisa could not make any headway in the game if he remained home. When an opportunity arose for him to move to Nairobi to try out his luck in the sport, he took it with both arms, with the blessings of his parents.
"My first coach was John Mwaura. He is coaching Eastleigh Youth now and he really helped me a lot. He coached me when I was playing for Laiser Hill then he took me to Eastleigh Youth then to Talanta," recalls Kapaito.
The Harambee Star trialist added: "I got my big break after scoring 17 goals in the National Super League (NSL). At that time I was playing for FC Talanta. The performances, I believe, made me sign for Kariobangi Sharks."
Within a span of one year, the diminutive Maa boy was to turn from an unknown entity in the Kenyan football landscape to the hottest new property.
His exploits for Sharks in his debut KPL campaign saw him bank over Sh1 million as he became the first player in the league to walk away with both the Golden Boot and the coveted KPL Footballer of the Year awards.
"Without a doubt, my top achievements are the awards I won in 2018 that is the MVP, top scorer, new player of the year and second runner-up in fair play," he affirms.
"I also helped my team (Sharks) win the Sportpesa Shield with the winners representing the country in the CAF Confederations Cup. I have also won the Sportpesa Cup in Tanzania."
All these accolades came within his first year in the top division. His accomplishments encouraged more of his hometown youngsters back in Namanga to take football more seriously and not merely as a pastime activity.
"Many of the kids back home want to play soccer now and I always receive lots of messages from them asking for advice and motivation on how they can improve. I am glad that, unlike us, they have a role model they can look up to in the KPL," Kapaito says.
Misfortune would strike Kapaito at most inopportune moment. With everything going for him and scouts falling over themselves to help him get a deal outside the country, he suffered an injury that would keep him out for almost a year.
"Getting injured after the 2018 season was my biggest disappointment. I stayed out for a long time. By that time I had a few offers but I couldn't move because of the injury," rues the youngster.
In spite of his success at such a short time, Kapaito still believes there is much more that he can achieve. His hunger for success is unlimited as he seeks to make his dream of playing abroad a reality.
That lingering feeling has been made even the more prominent as the youngster has seen several of his teammates join clubs abroad including Duke Abuya (Nkana Red Devils, Zambia) and Sydney Lokale, who recently underwent knee surgey and he is expected to to fight for his place in the HIFK squad in the Finnish top division.
"I have not achieved much but I believe I will get the chance again and make something great come out of me. I have always wanted to play for the national team and to play in Europe for a big club and also I want to be a top scorer in KPL," he says.
There is still a lot of goals in my career that I want to accomplish. Luckily, time is still on my side," he observes.
Kapaito attributes his success to Mwaura, the coach who mentored him through high school football and helped him get an opportunity to play in the second tier league.
"Coach William Muluya also did a lot for my career because under his leadership I managed to win the awards in 2018," he says.
Upon retirement, hopefully still far away, Kapaito would like to fully focus on managing his businesses started by proceeds from football.
"I have a few businesses running at home which I want to manage when I retire," concludes the little Maa boy who became a role model to budding footballers in the most unlikely of places.