Olympic’s rise leaves their rivals gasping
Few people knew about Olympic Mixed Secondary School. A majority were familiar with the primary school which once excelled in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Examination (KCPE).
But mention the secondary school now, especially in sports circles, and it elicits positive feedback with everyone, especially in Kibera, wanting to be associated with the school.
The reason for this is because the girls’ team at the school is the new football powerhouse in Nairobi County and nationally.
Olympic began in 2008 and has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the sport. However, it has not always been rosy for the school located in Kibera slums.
Theirs is a tale of ups, downs and uncertainty. From humble beginnings when the school used tents for makeshift classrooms to date, it has been a journey to behold.
The principal and coach Maurice Okumu said hard work and sheer determination has propelled the team to where it is. Olympic is the defending Metropolitan secondary schools girls champions, a title they have won thrice in a row.
They are also the national champions after narrowly beating holders Tartar during a closely-fought final during the Kenya Secondary Schools Association Games held in Embu last August.
The girls also made history by finishing second in Nigeria during the Airtel Rising Stars Africa Championship, a first for a Kenyan school.
Mr Okumu was transferred to the school in 2008 from Maim Warijigi were he was a teacher and also a football coach.
“When I arrived at Olympic five years ago, there was no football team. That is the time we started a girls’ and boys’ team,” he said.
The principal said a strategy was applied to attract students, especially girls, to the team and it worked out well.
“At first, it was difficult to convince parents and the Board of Governors why we should take up football instead of concentrating on studies, but they eventually backed me,” he recalls.
However, it did not mean that studies took a back seat. Mr Okumu said the girls are students between 7am to 5 pm, after which they proceed for football practice.
Baptism of fire
In their first match since formation, the team received a baptism of fire when they were handed a 9-0 thrashing by the then Nairobi champions St Teresa Girls.
“It did not come as a shock to me; we lost to the defending champions who had played for many years. It was good outing for the girls who gained experience,” he said.
Olympic lost at the zonal levels that year but started building a team for the future. In 2009, they faced St Teresa again in the semi-finals of the Nairobi championship but lost out on penalties. That year, Olympic finished third.
In 2010 they again lost in the final, but they did not give up. Mr Okumu recruited new players who turned the team’s fortunes.