Sunday, December 23, 2012

Profile: Maurice Ogur: Former KPL defender hangs his boots to train youngsters

Maurice Ogur, in red cap talks to a group of young players before the kick off of Ligi Ndogo tournament in Nyatike.

By Nick Oluoch

Former Premier League outfit Kisumu Posta defender Maurice Ogur quit active soccer at his prime a decade ago to stop the young boys who were abandoning school for the easy money in the lake fishing through soccer, and ten year later, he has definitely managed to turn the

At his prime, Ogur was one of the best defenders in the country, first turning out for Lake Basin development Authority FC in the Provincial League in 1988 before joining the then Kisumu based Premier League side Kisumu Posta between 1989- 1992 during one of the best periods in
the clubs’ history.

Born 38 years ago in Sori area on Nyatike district, Maurice did his primary Education at Sota primary school within the district before proceeding to Kakrao High school in Migori. He then transferred to former soccer powerhouse Kisumu Day where he sat for his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education in 1987.

He was then recruited by the Lake Basin Development Authority who, on top of signing him for their team which was then playing at the Nyanza Provincial League, also gave him employment at their offices in Kisumu.

It was while here that his talent blossomed and fame spread in Kisumu and the neighboring town and within eight months, he was plying his trade in the Premier League.

“Kisumu Posta came calling and it was impossible to ignore the opportunity” He says adding that they however agreed that he would always be available whenever he was not occupied with the team, and hence his

After two years, Premier League Giants Gor Mahia FC, who had been keenly following his progress and who were by this time rebuilding their after the great team that won the 1987 Mandela cup identified him as a potential player who could help in steadying defense.

They then followed their interest by making a formal offer to take him to Nairobi and he was then allowed by his club to talk to Gor’s representatives.

“That was the most difficult decision I have had to make” He says adding that just like most footballers at that time, the chance to play for a club as popular as Gor was almost impossible to turn down because of its history and the type of players it had, and what’s more, turning out for Gor at that time almost guaranteed one a call up to the National team.

But again, he had a job at LABD and it was obvious he had to quit the job if he was to link up with Gor and so, as much as he wanted to play for Gor, Ogur opted to remain in Kisumu and continued at Kisumu Posta for another three seasons under veteran coach the late Oloo Gadafi who went ahead and coached Scarlet, (currently known as Ulinzi)

And during his time there, Ogur recalls some of the most memorable games he took part into, like the games about Mumias Sugar FC were always memorable because they always had an air of a ‘derby’, the same with the games against Scarlet.

In 1993, Sony Sugar FC, who had been promoted to the league and were seeking to boost their defense, an offer Ogur would let pass once again because he had already decided to stop active soccer and come back home to develop the game from there.

“I had by then been approached by people back at home to come back and start a program which could help develop soccer in the region” He says adding that he the needed to this call and in 1994, aged 23 years old, he left Kisumu Posta and went back and formed ‘Ligi Ndogo Nyatike
Initiative’, an initiative aimed at improving the level of soccer in the region.

It was a sacrifice to do this he admits, but says with high number of boys leaving schools every year to go and work in the nearby Lake Victoria as fishermen, he also acknowledge it was a move he had to make for the sake of the of the community.

The initiative identified youth football, as an area of focus and for the past fifteen years, has been organizing annual tournaments bringing together boys who are below the age of seventeen from all beaches in Nyatike to the tournament.

“We make sure that all team which participate get uniform since it’s not much of a competition” He says adding that they also try and showcase the talents to the Premier League team by inviting scouts during the tournaments.

Last year, one of their best players Tairus Omondi, a strike was signed by Gor Mahia while another two joined the armed forces, something that had never happened before in the area and every year during the Secondary school ball games in the region, graduates from the initiative who are spread all over Migori and Homa Bay counties are always the star players.
A section of the boys under 17 years who took part in the tounament.

And the boys, aware of the sacrifice Ogur has had to make for them ever grateful with the few who have left always coming back and trying to help the young e ones also make it.

“We hope to have our boys joining the professional ranks soon” he says adding that with the talents being witnessed at the games, It is only a matter of time before the graduands from the initiative start playing in foreign leagues.

©Nick Oluoch, 2012

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