BLOG – Balloon Kenya: From Google to Pitch Side

During my placement with Bosch my manager commended me for having a great skill at building relationships with people, this is a story of a relationship that will surpass my time in Kenya.

My journey with Nakuru Allstars started with a Google search a ‘Nakuru Football Club’ which resulted in Nakuru Allstars’ appearing at the top of the search. Upon clicking the link I found that their shirt was luminous orange and decided that I had to try and get my hands on one whilst in Nakuru. I tweeted the team and got a reply from their Owner and CEO Robert Muthomi saying that he’d be able to sort me one.

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Finding a football pitch in Nakuru is difficult, as they are not readily available unlike in the UK. Ten football hungry Balloon Kenya males were desperate for a kick around and when we were invited to play the Allstars C team we jumped at the chance. We fielded seven Fellows on Wednesday evening, stealing three Allstars Defenders and a Goalkeeper. The sixty minute game ended 2-2 with Nick from Balloon Kenya grabbing our first goal and a young Kenyan securing the second. See Luke Mallards blog for a full account http://startup-kenya.blogspot.com/2013/08/balloon-kenya-allstars.html.

A tweet from Robert following the game on Wednesday asked what I was doing on Saturday. As the conversation continued he asked if a friend and I would like to travel to Kericho, sixty miles west of Nakuru to see the Allstars take on Zoo FC. An intense game of rock, paper, scissors saw Chris beat Luke for the second place on the team bus.

Chris and I managed to rearrange our Saturday meetings and the seven o’clock start was a struggle but Chris and I managed to grab a light breakfast before being warmly welcomed by the team at their ground. Eight o’clock Kenyan time (08:30 in reality) saw the bus pull off from Nakuru, beginning our journey to tea grow capital Kericho. A brief motivational talk instilled the importance of the day, as leaders West Sugar had faced a two points reduction as they bought and fielded a player before the transfer window had opened. The two point reduction meant that a draw would see Nakuru Allstars top the Kenyan Second Division.

After a two and a half hour bus journey through the luscious green tea growing countryside we arrived in Kericho. The player dispersed, heading in different directions for their pre-match meal and Chris and I joined the Allstars CEO for Chapattis and Chicken Stew in a restaurant.

We arrived at Kericho Green Stadium at one o’clock, an hour prior to the kick-off. Kericho suffers heavy rainfall and as a result large patches of mud have formed and theses patches have been covered in gravel to prevent a mid match mud bath. Chris and I joined the teams Bus Driver for a brief kick around with local children whilst the players warmed up.

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The Fourth Official forced Chris and I to leave the bench, however I remained wearing a red bib to avoid being mistaken for a player of the away team. Zoo FC took an early lead, but Nakuru didn’t let their heads drop and managed to grab an equaliser a minute before half time. Nakuru started strong in the second half and were pushing for a second goal. The weather took a turn for the worst as heavy rain spoiled the second half, which meant the football struggled on the heavy pitch.

A live chicken being dangled by its legs and waved at my window on the bus concluded another great day out in Kenya. Now back to Nakuru for a week of testing ideas with my entrepreneurs.

Thanks to the Allstars team for looking after us, especially Robert, Sky and Charlie who looked after the only Mzungu’s in the crowd well!

NottsNomad

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