•Prior to being told he was surplus to requirements at Sharks Wasambo had been battling hard to recover from a fractured leg
•Ayub, who is now an assistant coach at National Super League side Talanta, was a key pillar in the wholesome development of the young Wasambo
Losing a job or a means of generating an income is one nightmares anyone would loathe to go through.
Inevitably though, with the current economic hardship exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic many Kenyans have had to grapple with that reality.
One such individual is Vincent ‘Crucial’ Wasambo formerly of top flight side Kariobangi Sharks. Prior to being told he was surplus to requirements at Sharks Wasambo had been battling hard to recover from a fractured leg—a serious injury that kept him out of the game for a year.
“I was fighting hard to be in the squad for the historic match against Everton. Everyone wanted to be part of that important moment not only for Sharks but also Kenyan football,” recalled Wasambo.
“During training, a teammate tackled me from my behind and I fell awkwardly and injured my leg,” he added.
With that, his dream of pitting his wits against world class players went out of the window. An excruciating time out followed as the youngster struggled to return to full fitness.
“The injury was obviously a big setback because I was in a good moment in my career. I was out for nearly a year trying to recover, going for therapies, seeing the doctors and going to the gym. I felt I wasted a lot of time and that situation was made worse by the coronavirus issue,” he said.
The worse was still to come for ‘Crucial’. Just as he was back on his feet after a lengthy rehabilitation period, a report came from the club that he was no longer part of their plans going forward.
“It was disappointing news for me. Nobody wants to be dropped or lose his source of income. There was a lot of uncertainty regarding my future off the pitch,” sighed Wasambo.
“Then again after the news had sunk in, I figured out that maybe it’s a chance for me to get a new team and be in a new environment. Perhaps it’s an opportunity for me to grow somewhere else,” he added. Though Sharks paid all his hospital bills, it was a sad moment for the 22-year-old born in Gitathuru in Kariobangi North ward.
Sharks had been the only team he had known growing up in their youth system. Like many of his contemporaries, he started out in the game playing kick-abouts and trying to imitate international stars. Then a chance came for him to join the Sharks under 10 team.
“The coach (Ayub Inziani) approached me and offered me the opportunity to train with his Under-10 and U-12 team. I grasped the chance with both hands and never looked back,” reminisced Wasambo.
Impressive from that level, Wasambo got selected to be part of the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) team to travel to Oslo for the Norway Cup youth tournament after impressing in the Mysa league.
“Going to Norway and playing against boys who had developed their talent in proper facilities made me believe that with hard work and focus, I could make it in professional football and from then on, with the support of my family and coach Ayub I was determined to make it in the game,” recalled Wasambo.
Ayub, who is now an assistant coach at National Super League side Talanta, was a key pillar in the wholesome development of the young player.
“Coach Ayub was a central figure in my development. He would always insist on us combining football as well as staying in school when our age-mates were dropping out. Eventually, having that basic education has proved fundamental for me in my career so far,” Wasambo noted.
After finishing school at Kariobangi North Primary, Wasambo joined Mautuma High School. The school was determined to also leave a mark in football something that encouraged him to join them in the first place.
After finishing school, Wasambo could now fully focus on football as there was not enough money in the family for him to continue with his studies in college. Then in 2015, Sharks eventually achieved their dream of playing among the elite when they got promoted to the Kenyan Premier League.
Like all players in the Sharks family and the Kariobangi neighbourhood, Wasambo was elated at the feat achieved by his role models like Patilla Omoto, Eric Juma and Geoffrey Shiveka. Soon, he was to be part of the first team going on to feature in the top flight league.
With him in the squad, Sharks went on to win the Gotv Shield and the Super Cup before the historic meeting against current English Premier League leaders Everton which they also triumphed in post-match penalty shoot-out.
Though he was not part of the match day squad as he was recovering from his serious injury, Wasambo knew what that victory meant for the club.
Earlier, his performance for Sharks had won him a place in the preliminary Harambee Stars team for the first time as the African Cup of Nations qualifiers started.
“My experience with Harambee Stars was instrumental in taking my career a notch higher. Though it was my only call up to date, it was a good experience. I met the best players in that moment and season. Competing and training with them was a highlight of my career and a proud moment to be selected to represent your country,” said Wasambo.
The winger was included in the Rising Stars Under-20 squad that played against Egypt, an experience he concedes opened his yes on how far he was from being the finished article in football.
“The match against Egypt was indeed an eye opener. I met players who were superior technically and this encouraged me to work hard because there are so many quality players out there.”
“We were confident in our own ability but the way they dominated us, the quality they had and the intensity of their game showed how you needed to be fully concentrated at the highest level. Any mistake you make is punished,” Wasambo observed.
Indeed with the chastening decision to be dropped from a club he considered home, the experiences of his relatively nascent career will hold him in good stead as he seeks to reinvent himself before football resumes after the lengthy coronavirus enforced hiatus.
“I am trying to look for a team. I am in touch with several officials but nothing concrete has come out so far but I am confident I will be back in the pitch when football resumes,” said Wasambo.
With the short term nature of professional sport and the fickleness of contracts particularly in Kenya, Wasambo advises current footballers to start saving and investing early as you never know when your career and earning ability of your talent will be curtailed.
Name: Vincent Wasambo
Position: Attacking midfielder
Education: Kariobangi North Primary, Mautuma High
Caps: Kenya Under 20 (2)
2018: Sportpesa Cup
2017: Gotv Shield,
2018: Fkf Super Cup