Michael Madoya says he is unlikely to test his journalism skills anytime soon.
Which is understandable. He has been busy writing his story. The 25-year-old footballer is basking in pride and satisfaction having surprisingly been named the 2017 SportPesa Premier League Most Valuable Player on Friday night.
The Zoo Kericho midfielder says he will be training his sights on helping his club win a first ever Kenya Premier League title this year. Having been called up several times to the national Harambee Stars, Madoya is also keen to earn his first full international cap.
“There after,” he told Nation Sport with a confident smile, “I am also looking to accomplish my dream of playing in Europe.”
Madoya, who graduated with a diploma in journalism at a Kericho Technical Training Institute last year, undoubtedly was man of the moment during the colourful SportPesa Premier League gala night award.
CREME DE LA CREME
In the presence of Harambee Stars coach Paul Put, Kericho governor Paul Chepkowny, Football Kenya Federation chief executive officer Robert Muthomi and SportPesa CEO Robert Muthomi, a beaming Madoya was crowned Kenya’s best football player for 2017 and awarded a glittering trophy and Sh1 million in prize.
He also won the Fair Play, New Player of the Year and Midfielder of the Year awards creating history as the first player to win four accolades in one season.
These three awards also made him Sh700,000 richer.
Astonishingly, Madoya, a Litien High School alumnus, achieved all this after featuring in the league for the first time.
He defeated seasoned players namely Patrick Matasi and Meddie Kagere to win the coveted award.
“I did not expect to win it,” he simply said.
“It has been a tough journey which makes me very excited. I just spoke to my mother on phone and she is crying. She cannot believe it. I also cannot believe it.”
“Several times we struggled as a team especially during those court cases which were influenced by differences between the bosses (football administrators) and at some point we were thrown out of the league. I thank God for everything.”
Madoya was referring to last September when his team was alongside Nakumatt suspended from competing in the league.
At that point, the Kenya Premier League Limited, which manages the country’s top flight football competition, had kicked Zoo out of the competition in compliance with a high court ruling made by Justice John Mativo.
Mativo directed the league revert to a 16-team competition after hearing a case filed by former Football Kenya Federation president Sam Nyamweya who had challenged the constitution of the competition.
Zoo and Nakumatt would be reinstated into the top flight a couple of weeks later following a successful appeal.
Born in Kericho, Madoya, whose ancestral home is in Vihiga County, went on to discover his love for football while in Class Six class at Kericho Township Primary.
“It was my elder brother who said I should give it a try,” the player, who is the last born in a family of five, recalls.
That brother is Wycliffe Changilwa, an ex-international who turned out for Kericho’s Brookbond, Oserian Fastac and Nzoia Sugar in his playing days.
By the time he got to Form Three at Litien High School, Madoya had impressed enough to be named as captain of his school’s football team.
At about the same time, the player also caught the eyes of Zoo club chairman Ken Ochieng’ who was on a scouting mission during the school games. That was six years ago.
Laughing loudly, Madonya goes back in time: “I remember him (Ochieng) telling me I am a very good player and he wanted to offer me a chance to play for Zoo Kericho. At that time the team was playing in the District league.”
An avid lover of reggae music, Madoya embarked the journey with Zoo Kericho that led the team to securing successive promotions into the National Super League.
“I went through several experiences. It was a learning process, not only on the pitch but also in life.
“I almost gave up at some point. I remember for two seasons in a row, we did all we could to get promoted to the top flight league but the bosses at the time would promote other teams. It was frustrating and I kept wondering whether there is justice in Kenya.”
As for his dream of making it to the big stage, Madoya looks up to Michael Olunga, a former Gor Mahia player who currently plays for Girona in Spain’s top flight league, La Liga, for motivation.
He also confesses to having a quiet admiration for Andreas Iniesta, the Barcelona and Spanish midfielder who is remembered for scoring the winning goal against Netherlands at the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa.
Incidentally, both Iniesta and Madoya are attacking midfielders with a slight frame.
Just like Iniesta, Madoya has also curved a reputation on the local scene as a dribbler and accurate passer of the ball. He contributed eight goals and five assists in the league last season.
“I believe in making forward passes because the goal is always ahead of you. I don’t see sense in doing sideways or back passes,” he adds.
Praises have come thick and fast.
“He is a player that works hard on the pitch and rarely misses a game or training session. He has been vital in dictating our play and I am happy for him. It is with such recognition that we can be able to encourage other player to join our club,” said Zoo Kericho coach and former Kenya international Sammy Okoth.
Harambee Stars coach Paul Put said: “I had heard about him even though there has not been an opportunity to watch him. He is a confident lad and if he continues impressing, then the opportunities will come. I have told him to concentrate on working hard and improving.”
Muthomi also lauded the new MVP: “These are some of the talents we wanted to expose when the federation was vouching for an 18-team league. If we had a 16-team this year, nobody would be talking about him now.”
Madoya has also urged the government to invest in infrastructure to allow for more talent to be unearthed.
“Footballers in Kenya lack proper facilities and support. The government should look at Egypt, where everything is in place up until the point where footballers there don’t see the need of going to play in Europe.”
Madoya, who says his favourite meal is chapati and kuku, respects the opinion of critics who insist he didn’t deserve the MVP award, even though he is quick to add that he didn’t force any coach or captain to vote for him.