•It was the then national team head coach Stanley Okumbi, who identified him for national duty alongside schoolmate Alpha Onyango when Harambee Stars were preparing to meet Mauritania and Togo in international friendlies
•In 2014, he proceeded to Kakamega High School after his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and it is there that his star began to rise.
James Mazembe was only 18 and still in high school when he received his first call up to the national team, Harambee Stars.
The offensive midfielder, who has endeared himself to local football fans with his splendid runs down the flanks was then featuring for Kakamega High School at the 2017 East Africa School Games at Gulu in northern Uganda when the lifetime opportunity came knocking right on his door.
It was the then national team head coach Stanley Okumbi who identified him for national duty alongside schoolmate Alpha Onyango when Harambee Stars were preparing to meet Mauritania and Togo in international friendlies.
Mazembe's performance on the big stage has dispelled the myth that budding footballers drawn straight from high school can't flex muscles with the big boys.
Mazembe was identified by Football Kenya Federation’s technical team at the 2017 Airtel Rising Stars National Secondary Schools Term Two ‘B’ games, where he went ahead and scooped the Most Valuable Player award after guiding his school to a third title at the games.
Born on May 2, 1998 in Kericho, into a family of seven children where he is the fifth born, Mazembe began playing football in 2009 for a youth side, Ujuzi.
Here, he was taken through his first steps in football by coach Ibrahim Muganda while turning out for the side in the U-14 and U-17 categories. Meanwhile, he was attending Kericho Township Primary School.
In 2014, he proceeded to Kakamega High School after his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and it is there that his star began to rise.
Undoubtedly, his coach at Ujuzi, Muganda had played a good role in nurturing him, given he began featuring for the school team immediately he joined Form One, plying trade as an offensive left.
That year, the Green Commandos of Kakamega High School beat Kisumu Day in the football finals to emerge the national champions at Bukhungu with Alphonse Monje, who currently turns out for top tier side Mathare United, scoring the all important goal.
At Kakamega High School, he played alongside Ulinzi Stars’ custodian Timothy Odhiambo and Tusker FC defender Kelvin Monyi.
His performance attracted instant attention in top flight football circles and soon he found himself donning Kenyan Premier League side Zoo Kericho colours.
It was coach Ken Ochieng who gave him his first chance to perform on the big stage when he fielded him. He had followed him at Ujuzi throughout and got impressed by him.
In 2017, he bumped into an opportunity to join Kariobangi Sharks after coach William Muluya observed his performance during the high school games. It wasn’t easy getting game time at Sharks given he had to compete for position with Ovella Ochieng who was experiencing his peak at the time.
Ovella would later find greener pastures abroad, creating a good opportunity for Mazembe to consolidate his position at the side.
“I took time to break into the first team but finally earned my debut against Nzoia Sugar at Sudi Stadium, where I finally got a chance to play in a match that we won in a 1-0,” said Mazembe.
He says his best Kenyan Premier League match was against Posta Rangers at Kasarani in 2020, where he netted a brace to secure his side a point as they played out to a two all draw.
Mazembe further points out that being drafted into the senior national team while still in high school marked a turning point in his stellar career.
“It was the most defining moment in my career. I was still young and being given such an opportunity was a big honour,” he observes.
He wishes to play for Celtic in the Scottish premiership in future and says he draws loads of inspiration from Dutch footballer Arjen Robben who plays as a winger and captains Eredivisie club Groningen. Like Mazembe, Robben is known for his dribbling skills, speed, ball control, and his long-range shots.
Mazembe is convinced that Kariobangi Sharks are now ripe enough to lay claim to the top flight title this season. “I’m hoping to propel Sharks to their maiden KPL title this season,” said Mazembe.
Mazembe contributed vastly in the final outcome when Sharks kicked off the season on a high after thrashing Wazito 4-0 in their opening encounter at MISC, Kasarani.
Although not yet married, Mazembe says he is in a serious relationship with his girlfriend Maggie Mutinda. He says he spends his time working out in the gym when he is not doing his stuff on the pitch.
He has a lot of gratitude for his elder brother Thomas Ogake whom he says played a vital role in guiding his career in the right direction.
“He always assisted whenever need arose. He provided transport and bought me football boots,” he says. It was at a time his father John Osiemo Ogachi and mother Pacifica Kerubo had already settled down up-country after retiring from employment.
He is quick to chip in with a word of advice for budding footballers, urging them to always put God first in the course of their careers. “I urge them to work hard and always believe in God. Giving up should not be an option,” says Mazembe.
Date of Birth: May 2, 1998
Place of birth: Kericho
Kericho Township Primary School
Kakamega High School
Ujuzi Academy (Kericho)
Zoo Kericho (Kenyan Premier League)
Kariobangi Sharks (Kenyan Premier League)
Most Valuable Player at the 2017 Kenya Secondary Schools Ball Games
James Mazembe was only 18 and still in high school when he received his first call up to the Kenya national football team, Harambee Stars.
The offensive midfielder, who has endeared himself to local soccer fans with his splendid runs down the flanks, was then featuring for Kakamega High School at the 2017 East Africa School games at Gulu in northern Uganda when the lifetime opportunity came knocking right on his door.
It was the then national team head coach Stanley Okumbi, who identified him for national duty alongside schoolmate Alpha Onyango when Harambee Stars were preparing to meet Mauritania and Togo in international friendlies.
Mazembe’s performance on the big stage has dispelled the myth that budding footballers drawn straight from high school can’t quite flex muscles with the big boys.