Musa Otieno: From Football To Philanthropy

Football Icon Musa Otieno is Giving Back to The Community That Made Him

Musa Otieno, the former Kenyan football international player, has reinvented a career in philanthropy and social work over the last ten years. He retired in 20111 from a hugely successful football career that took him to South Africa, USA and locally with AFC Leopards and Tusker. 

Musa, or “Otero” as he is popularly known in his neighbourhood of Maringo, got into the Kenyan football setup at 19 years, getting a call up in the Kenyan team and sticking around for close to two decades thanks to his skills as a centre back and his hard work and leadership skills as a Harambee Stars captain.

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He was a mainstay in the Kenyan football team for close to 15 years, becoming one of the most famous footballers in living memory.

From Kenya Breweries, now known as Tusker FC, he went to Santos football club in South Africa, where he established himself as a Centre back much loved by football fans, coaches and sports administrators, who fondly referred to him as “Kilimanjaro” due to his imposing height (he is 1.93 centimetres tall). 

Some of his career highlights include winning the South African football league with Santos, and winning the Kenyan premier league with Tusker, and leading Kenya’s Harambee Stars to African cup of nation’s group stages in 2004. 

Humble, soft spoken, eloquent and passionate, Musa Otieno comes off as a man who is deeply connected with his community, someone who has “never forgotten where he came from” as Kenyans like to say. 

In an interview with Daniel Otieno of KTN’s “Life and Style”, Musa credited the support he got from his elder brothers, his father and Mr. Makumi, a teacher in his early childhood days for offering the mentorship and support a young boy needed to elevate his football skills and abilities to an international level.

It is part of the reason why Musa has dedicated his time, resources and passions to mentor kids in Maringo, with his foundation, “Kick off to Hope Kenya.” 

He hopes that the next great football star comes from the football academy. Nairobi’s Eastland’s, of which Maringo is part of, is one of the football hotbeds in Kenya, with stars such as Dennis Oliech, Musa Otieno, Jamal Mohamed and many others all coming from this region in years past. It is easy to see Musa’s football coaching classes motivating the next great football star, female or male.

Kick off to hope, formerly known as Musa Otieno Foundation, is a football academy that provides basic football skills through coaching and mentorship, equipment such as uniforms, football boots and footballs in the Maringo area. The foundation has helped lots of kids with football coaching and skills that they would not have gotten elsewhere. 

Kick off to hope has also initiated projects at the Dr. Krapf Primary School in Maringo, doing among other projects such as rehabilitation of classrooms, repainting walls, renovation of ceiling boards as well as equipping a computer lab in the primary school.  

Musa Otieno, who is a devout Christian, firmly believes that he can bring about positive change in his community through positive example setting, mentorship and community outreach programs.

He mentioned learning skills in coaching and leadership at Santos football club before he retired from football as helping him transition from the cocooned world of professional football to coaching and later, philanthropy. 

Musa Otieno is one of the most inspiring men I have come across in my life and one who has made a seamless transition from the football pitch to a career in philanthropy and nonprofit work.

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