Seventeen-year-old Kenyan Garvin Gachangi is a footballer on the rise.
He is on the youth ranks of top Dutch side Willem II and knocking on the doors of the senior side, eager to make a name for himself.
But how did he join a top team in The Netherlands while he is relatively unknown in Kenyan football circles? Garvin’s mother, Joyce Wambui Njeri, explains that they moved to the European country in 2014, and a year later, his son’s football career started blossoming.
Last year, however, was when the young man’s football career took a turn for the better.
This after he was signed by top-tier side Willem II, a huge step up after previously playing for amateur sides.
“My football journey started in 2015 when I was 13 years old,” he tells Nation Sport.
“I started at a small amateur club called VV ONI. I played there for one season till 2016 then I stopped for a while.
“Two years later in 2018, I moved to another small amateur club called AV Eindhoven where I played until 2019,” Gachangi explains.
“After that, I felt like I needed to take it to the next level, and so in 2019, I went to play for a club called Brabantia. It’s also an amateur club but at a higher level than the previous two clubs.
“That year was a really good year for me as I was scouted by a professional club called FC Eindhoven.
“While playing there two months later, we had a friendly match with one of the biggest clubs in Holland called Willem ll.
“I played well enough that Willem enquired about me and they signed me,” he added. He admits it hasn’t been all rosy for him at Willem II as he has been forced to adjust to training and playing at a different level.
“So far at Willem ll, it has been not been easy for me because I had never played at such a high level.
“I train from Monday to Friday and have games on Saturdays with a lot of fans watching. Everything is getting better though, but it’s just the start,” he says.
Gachangi says his main strengths as a footballer are his speed and technique. He is a winger who can play on both flanks and his role model is Brazilian international Neymar.
He is also itching to play for the Kenyan National team, Harambee Stars, and break into the Willem II senior team soon.
“I love how he (Neymar) plays and his technique is amazing. I know I have a long way to go before I can achieve what he has done in football but it is a sacrifice I am willing to take. I really want to make a name for myself in the world of football,” he says.
“My goals now are playing every game, scoring goals, making my debut in the first team and playing for my country Kenya.
“My long term dreams are playing for Manchester United, winning the Champions League and becoming one of the biggest players to do so.
“However, that will come in the near future. Right now my focus is becoming a better player – I know I am fast and technically gifted, but I have to work on some aspects of my game like shooting, my left foot and become a better passer of the ball,” he adds.
Gachangi credits his mother for guiding him throughout his career so far. “My mom has played a big role in my career. She always motivates me to become a better man and a better football player.
“She is really a strong woman and has always been there for me.”
His mother Njeri is also very proud of the strides he is making in football. “I discovered he had talent at the age of six because when he was playing out in the streets with other kids, everyone who saw how he handled and his touch of the ball was amazed by how good he was and they would tell me.
“As someone who also played football, I could also tell that he was really good at it,” she says.
“I am very happy and proud of the fact that he is playing for a team at the top level in Holland. It’s an incredible feeling.
“Garvin is a jovial and social young man. He works hard and believes in his abilities thus I would say he is a go-getter. He is also disciplined and very respectful,” she adds.
Although Garvin has since acquired Netherlands citizenship, Njeri too would love to see her son don the Kenya national team colours soon.
“I would definitely love him to represent Kenya in the future, because first and foremost, he is Kenyan who is very proud of his country and its culture and even though he moved to the Netherlands at a very young age, he still speaks good Swahili,” she says.
What does Garvin do apart from football? “If Garvin was not a professional footballer, I think he would have been an entertainment artist as he is a great dancer, rapper and singer.
“He is also good at boxing, sprint running and very good at drawing,” her mother explains.
Garvin is almost done with basic education but his mother says it hasn’t been hard for him to juggle school and education.
“Playing football doesn’t affect his studies at all and in my opinion. The education system in the Netherlands is one of the best since kids have time for both school and extra-curricular activities.
“In the case of those who play professionally, the school and the club work together and this is actually supported fully by the government,” she concludes.