Legends: Chat with Tobias ‘Jua Kali’ Ocholla

Tobias ‘Jua Kali’ Ocholla's big break knocked on  February 1986 when Gor Mahia scouts  hunted him down.  He made his first start at Gor Mahia after four months at the City Stadium where they played against an Egyptian side. 

He earned his nickname ‘Jua Kali’ from his role being a full back as he used to perfect his art without holding back and the fans enjoyed every moment of it on the pitch. He was part of the Gor Mahia team that was banned by CAF for 2 years [1985 - 1987] after Isaiah Omondi ‘Janabi’ attacked the referee during their match against Egyptian side Zamalek. 

PROFILE

Place of Birth: Othoro village, Kabondo, Homa Bay County

Year of Birth: 1963

Education: Othoro Primary School, Wang’apala Secondary School, Usenge High School, JKUAT [Undergraduate & Masters]

­­­Playing Career: Ministry of Works in Kisumu [student], Kisumu Hot Stars [1982 to 1985], Gor Mahia [1986 to 1996], Harambee Stars [1987 to 1994]

Position: Full Back

Notable teammates: Anthony Ndolo, George ‘Solo’ Otieno, Isaiah ‘Janabi’ (prophet) Omondi, Peter ‘Bassanga’ Otieno, John Otieno Ogolla (Bobby Ogolla) and Austin ‘Makamu’ Oduor.

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What is your take on the latest tujiamini campaign to recognize legends?

I think it’s a great thing for us since for whatever thing we did for the country, there are people who noticed and is good also for posterity since the young players will be helped to grow from the motivation.

Comparing your times and now, please strike a comparison for us on the standards of football in the country?

Now it is going to the dogs because when we were playing it was for the passion and people were hence very committed. If you look at the current crop of players, the commitment is wanting though the money is there.

What is the main reason for this unfortunate turn of events?

I think it is lacking leadership that is causing. Stakeholders need to sit down and evaluate while planning for the future. If we want to grow we need to plan and copy what others who have achieved have done; using their actions as benchmarks to leverage on our performance.

The recent friendly matches by Harambee Stars seem to have been a gamble gone bad. What is your opinion on such ventures?

It was a gamble true but it appears that when the match is against a perceived strong side, the training is taken very seriously but when it is against a lower ranked side then preparations aren’t taken seriously.

Playing a lower ranked team is also very tough because they aren’t at your level and they normally raise their game to your level so such surprises to come.

Some legends have been under attack from Kenyans. What would you say this does to them?

I think we need not to go and bash people on social media even if there is a problem. We need to go sit the person down and find out what it is if it is true and if it is not then people need to stop meddling. People like Oliech did a lot for the country and we need to help him come back to his footing if all the things people are saying are true.

What part do you think you can play to bring things back to order?

The federation needs to call a stakeholders meeting so that we can share thoughts and see where we have gone wrong, right so that we may correct before it is too late.

Gor Mahia is about to win the 16th title. What is your feeling about it?

This is amazing and I would like to congratulate the officials for bringing in a coach immediately Ze Maria left having steadied the ship soon enough. I believe he is an experienced coach because from the time he joined it took him a week or two to find a first eleven. The changes being done to the team are minimal which is commendable.

READ: Legends: Chat with 'Kenya One' Mahmoud Abbas