•Interestingly, Mahiga started out as a goalkeeper and was even at one time named the best goalkeeper of the tournament.
•Mahiga says his height also discouraged him from pursuing a career as a goalkeeper
Many parents in Kenya still view football as a mere waste of time.
They see it as an unnecessary activity that consumes the valuable hours that should otherwise be spent on studies.
Vincent Mahiga’s mother was indifferent to his passion for football. As he floated the idea around, she laughed it off, always stressing the need for him to spend more of his time rummaging through books to secure himself a bright future.
Her attitude, however, changed suddenly one day when her son came back home and told her that there were some teachers who had offered him an opportunity to learn in their school without paying school fees. She saw no point in standing in his way any further.
Born on May 14, 1995, Mahiga is the seventh born from a family of eight children (six boys and two girls).
He began learning his football at the tender age of seven years when he turned out for a development outfit called Natchez at Huruma Estate in Eldoret.
They used to participate in the U-10 league in a tournament organised by Crisc, an NGO based in Tanzania.
Each year, the organisation would assemble three teams from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania for a regional championship in which he featured on numerous occasions.
Interestingly, Mahiga started out as a goalkeeper and was even at one time named the best goalkeeper of the tournament.
However, after joining high school he decided to switch to the defence. “When I joined high school, I played as a midfielder but later I switched to play in the defence after my coach convinced me that I had a golden left foot. That’s when I began polishing my skills as a full back,” says Mahiga.
Mahiga says his height also discouraged him from pursuing a career as a goalkeeper. He sat for his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams in 2010 and proceeded to join Kegoye Secondary School in Vihiga.
He didn’t stay there for long though. When he was about to join Form Three, teachers from St. Marks Boys in Cherengani approached him and convinced him to join their school after offering to pay his school fees.
“St. Marks teachers approached me when I had completed Form Two at Kegoye. I, however, decided to repeat a class and start again from Form Two when I transferred to my new school,” says Mahiga.
He owes a lot of appreciation to two teachers, Mr. Tony who currently officiates matches in the Kenyan Premier League, and Mr. Lumbe, both of whom he says guided his path to success as a footballer.
“The two teachers always encouraged me never to give up, always reminding me that I was full of potential and that I would go far with my talent.”
Meanwhile, he was playing for GFE 105 in the National Super League where he was being guided by coaches Kirya Bright and Dickson Asiele.
He featured for the side until in 2018 when he went to try out for Chemelil Sugar, hoping to join the big boys’ club in the Kenyan Premier League. His mission to the sugar belt region was a huge success after an impressed head coach Charles Odera offered him a deal.
It wasn’t that easy for him to penetrate into the first team though. He sat out some matches waiting patiently for an opportunity to feature in his first game. When a chance finally showed up, it was against Kakamega Homeboyz who humbled them 2-0.
He stayed there for a whole season and thereafter crossed over to Kakamega Homeboyz when coach Nicholas Muyoti expressed interest in his services while seeking to bolster his line-up to challenge for the KPL title.
He started off on the wrong foot after he sustained an injury during a pre-season game just a week before the beginning of the season.
They were playing a friendly match against Kisumu All Stars whom they thumped 3-0 at Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega.
Mahiga says his best KPL match ever was a tie against Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) in Machakos last year.
“We believed in ourselves despite having traveled overnight for the match and arriving only a few hours to kick off. We arrived at the venue at 6 am and didn’t have sufficient time to rest our bodies. We played our hearts out and carried the day with a narrow 2-1 win.”
His most memorable match, however, was when they faced off with Nakumatt and he netted a brace. Mahiga says he would wish to quickly forget their KPL tie against Sofapaka in which he squandered a penalty after George Maelo handled the ball in the box.
“I offered to take the spot kick after all the other players declined to do so but I threw it all away.”
Mahiga says that no team ever gives him the goosebumps. “Basically, I have never felt intimidated by any of the KPL side.”
He, however, confesses that he always encounters difficulties trying to contain departed Tusker FC towering and bulky forward Timothy Otieno. “He is bigger than me in body size,” says Mahiga.
The Kakamega Homeboyz left-back says he is his own role model and draws inspiration from his success on the pitch.
“I am my own role model because in every journey, I always believe I am the only person who should work hard to move a notch higher.”
Mahiga says his role model abroad is 28-year-old Austrian professional footballer, David Olatukunbo Alaba, who plays for German club Bayern Munich and the Austria national team.
Alaba is very versatile player, who comfortably fits in a multitude of roles, including central midfield, central defence, right and left wing, but primarily plays as a left-back.
Although he is yet to receive any call up to the national team, Mahiga is still optimistic that his time will come.
He believes his mother has played a key role in his journey as a footballer despite having been against the idea at the beginning.
“At first, my mum didn’t support me fully but when she came to learn that I had been offered a chance to study at St. Marks without paying school fees because of football, her attitude changed.”
“Everytime before a match, she prays for me.”
Mahiga is urging budding footballers never to lose focus in life. “As long as you trust and believe that you can do it , the only person to carry you through is you. The youth should just believe in themselves. Hard work and discipline are the key factors,” he quips.
He says he’s single and spends his free time guiding upcoming players at his former side GFE 105.
Name: Vincent Mahiga
Date of Birth: May 14, 1995
2003-2010: Primary School
2011-2012: Kegoye Secondary School
2013-2015: St. Marks High School
2000-2012: Natchez FC
2013-2016: GFE 105
2017-2018: Chemelil Sugar
2019 to-date: Kakamega Homeboyz