•Oruchum was heartbroken in 2014 after his KCSE results, along with those of his classmates at Chavakali High School, were cancelled by KNEC for exam irregularities
•However, he passed his repeat exam in 2015 and is now pursuing a Master's degree at the University of Nairobi
•Oruchum is now a Chatered Financial Analyst apart from turning out for Tusker FC
Who would have imagined, in the context of the days gone by when footballers 'loathed' schools that one, who was already contracted to a topflight club, would shrug off his cancelled exams and repeat a class and go forth to pass and eventually pursue a Masters degree?
This is the true story of Tusker defender Christopher Oruchum when he was a Chavakali High school student in 2014.
The entire KCSE results of the school were cancelled as the education mandarins and the government came down strong on examination cheating.
Oruchum, not only took the setback on his chin but went on to pass the very next year and join university and is now enrolled for a Masters degree at the University of Nairobi.
"It was obviously the toughest test of my life — to go back to school having already started playing in the league in 2015 — following cancellation of exam results for the whole school (Chavakali class of 2014)," Oruchum recalls.
"But I took it all in my stride with the support of my parents, club and the school and did the exams and now I can say my patience has paid off."
From very early on, Oruchum, who is a Chartered Financial Analyst, was made to understand the value of education.
He was constantly reminded by his parents that in the overall scheme of things, his football ambitions were secondary.
"It was not an unusual demand but it was one that as a kid, you felt like everyone was against your ambitions in life. The challenges of trying to be a pro player again were mainly juggling between academics and training demands. Convincing my parents to support my football endeavour was a difficult task," he says.
His parents hard stance began to thaw when they realised their son's talent was not a run off the mill. Slowly, they began to accept their son could juggle both sports and academics — after all, he was already into sports in school.
"I started (serious) football while in Form Two at Chavakali High School after being selected following an interclass match. This was followed by a Copa Coca Cola tournament where I ended up in the 20-man Kenyan Dream Team to South Africa," the 24-year old recalls.
On coming back, he joined Thika United, who were then in the KPL under Tim Bryett. It was while at Thika that he had his KCSE results cancelled alongside his classmates at Chavakali.
Bryett, despite his torrid reign at Thika that was allegedly undermined by infighting by those who felt they 'owned' the club, is among the most influential persons in Oruchum's football career.
"Prior to that Indimuli Kahi (current Principal Machakos Boys but formerly at Chavakali High) and Stephen Shivachi (games teacher Chavakali) were crucial in shaping my career and instilling in me the ethos of how to make it in the tough world of pro football," Oruchum says.
Their advice seemed to have worked a treat as Oruchum is now a regular starter at a club like title contenders Tusker.
It also led to his selection to the KPL All Star team for the friendly tour to England to play Hull City in 2017.
"The trip to Hull is one of my memorable moments in football. It gave me a glimpse of how professional football is and that is the approach I take to every training session, listening to the advice of the coaches at all times. I also work outside the team sessions to improve myself and always taking care of my body. That is the only way I can scale up the ladder," he says.
The defender also fondly holds dear his first topflight goal scored in a 3-2 defeat against Mathare United.
"Though we lost, I had achieved something that most defenders don't and I hope it will be the first of many more," Oruchum, who looks up to Barcelona and Spain defender Gerard Pique, says.
Unlike many of his age mates who are ever restless — moving teams at every transfer window — Oruchum has been restrained in his moves staying two or so years at each of his other clubs.
When he left Thika, he joined AFC Leopards where after impressive stints, he moved to Tusker.
Three clubs in six years while his peers have a new port of call every year. The player considers fellow international Elvis Rupia as his toughest opponent to date. He is looking forward to nailing down a regular place at Harambee Stars squad for years to come.
For his proven resilience, of going back to school and getting that high school certificate, no one would bet against him wearing the national colours.
That he is a focused and disciplined player is not in doubt and the defender wants current players to also take life after football seriously.
Stories of suffering former colleagues wrench his heart.
" My advice to fellow players is to always have a fallback plan," he says.
Name: Christopher Oruchum
Place of Birth: Busia, Kenya
Current Club: Tusker
Former Clubs: Thika United, AFC Leopards
Education: Chavakali High School
University of Nairobi School of Business
Professional Qualifications: Certified Financial Analyst