Meet ‘Urejesho’, the cobbler from Nzoia who repairs players’ boots for free
That Kenyan Premier League clubs are facing dire financial constraints is no longer a secret. So dire is the financial crunch that players cannot afford some of the basic things like fare to training, paying rent just to mention but a few.
In fact, in such a situation, buying a new pair of boots and kits has become a luxury not to mention repairing them when they get torn.
Aware of such difficulties, one man, Julius Wanjala alias ‘Urejesho’ has stepped up, giving back to the community in his own little way.
Urejesho is a cobbler, a man of little means, going by his trade. Like the players whom he’s stepped up to help by mending their torn shoe for free, he is also struggling to make ends meet.
However, his love for the beautiful game and undying passion for Nzoia Sugar FC has made him take this unthinkable journey.
Along the Bukembe- Nzoia rough road, in a small area known as field workshop, his name ‘Urejesho’ is familiar and it takes less than a minute to be be directed to a small shop, where you meet meet him doing his work.
The kibanda in which he operates from is as humble as the man himself, but that is the least of his concerns as he goes through his daily business.
And aware of the team’s struggles, Urejesho decided to support the team through his skills. He has dedicated and sacrificed to help the players of his favourite club, by using his skills as a cobbler to mend their boots – for free.
As I talk to him, seeking to know what motivates him to exceed such limits, Urejesho tells me that his passion for the team cannot allow him to see the players suffering, and that though he doesn’t have the colloquial sums to pump into the team in sponsorship, he’s opted to use his skills to see them through on the pitch – ensuring that their boots are in fine shape.
“I decided to help because I saw they were suffering. At times when they go to play, their boots get torn and with the current situation where the team doesn’t have money, I saw that I could offer my support and offer my skills to save their expenses related with mending boots,”he explained.
Echoing the words of Martin Luther King Junior, the great American civil rights activist, that ‘the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy’, Wanjala Urejesho says that the players have been his customers even when the team was in good financial health, and he cannot afford to abandon them now when there is cash crunch.
“The players have always been supporting me and have been my customers for a long time. Although there are financial challenges, I have assured them that the whole of this season I will mend their shoes for free. I am prepared and I have already bought enough thread for that work even if it means having a sleepless night to mend boots so that they play,” he offered, his words piercing through my soul unable to contend of how such acts of selflessness could change the world we live in.
It is a move which has been highly appreciated by George Kinuthia, the chairperson of Nzoia Sugar FC fans, who has encouraged other fans to come together and support the players during the tough times.
“It is a very good gesture from Urejesho and I appreciate him. It is not an easy task but he has sacrificed to do that for the sake of players even from other local teams like Nzoia Sportiff FC and we are very grateful. I call upon all fans from the region to come and support these talents.”
The boda boda operators from the area have not been left behind either as they have also committed to helping the players curb transport expenses by carrying them for free to training sessions.
Hassan Wesonga ‘Joho’, chairperson of Bukembe Market Boda Boda Association says they are putting efforts to ensure players can attend friendly matches.
“Our players are really suffering especially on transport costs and together with my colleagues, we are supporting them by carrying them from the stage to the field for them to attend training sessions. We are also organising ourselves and we will soon pay them a courtesy call, ” he said without elaborating perhaps a sign that they intend to offer more psychological support to the team.
On his part, Nzoia FC club chairman Yappets Mokua has welcomed any form of support from stakeholders, urging fans to also to be attending their matches.
“It is true that we are struggling and that has really affected our performance. For instance, we are forced to travel at night for our away matches which we play on the same day since we cannot afford accommodation. That has definitely affected us even if you look at the results,” he averred.
The team is currently placed at position 14 on the KPL log with eight points, having won two matches, drawn two and lost five.
Indeed through the passion for sports, much can be done if only stakeholders and well-wishers rallied together and followed in the footsteps of Wanjala the cobbler and the boda boda operators .
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