In our continued interviews with the Kenya premier league players, Collins Okinyo focuses on Sofapaka inspirational Captain and Harambee Stars player James Jamo Situma.
Situma is a very spiritual player and is also considered by many pundits as one of the best players to communicate with in an interview with his good grasp and good communication skills a fundamental aspect ignored by many players.
After making the provisional Harambee Stars squad a few times, Situma finally broke into the team and most will remember him for scoring a rare goal for Harambee Stars when the team played Cameroon’s indomitable Lions on the 10th of January this year.
Situma’s 35 yard free kick left Carlos Kameni glued to the spot as it went all the way to the far post – a goal most recall as perhaps the only one Harambee Stars has scored from a free kick situation in recent memory.
Situma tells how he started football, his aspirations and what he thinks of defending the KPL title that his team Sofapaka won in its debut season in Kenya’s top flight last season.
Read on as Situma talks to KenyanFootie.com
James please tell the readers something about yourself, when and where you were born and how you got involved with football.
My names are James Situma, a second born from a family of three children; Alfred, me and Cyrus and sons to Japheth Wakhungu and Anne Wakhungu.
I was born in 11th November 1984 in Bungoma District at a place called Ndivisi. I went to Misikhu R.C Primary School where I started discovering my talent during P.E lessons.
Later I joined Ndivisi Primary school from class six up to class eight and its here that I fully discovered my talent. I really got a lot of support from my father but some how my mum was opposed to it especially when I went home with some bruises. She could insist I concentrate on academics which led to great misunderstanding between her and father.
I played for Ndivisi United - a local club in the village and won a lot of trophies while still a kid. I joined Sirakaru Secondary where I fully natured my talent and I give a thump to my head teacher by then [Mr. Philip Mukui] not forgetting Bernard Yaola and Silivester Mulukurwa both former Nzoia Sugar Players who inspired me a lot.
We used to play friendlies against Nzoia Sugar and Mumias Sugar where I earned a call up to play for Nzoia Sugar in the year 2003 while still in fourth form.
It was a big challenge because it was hard for me to balance class work and sports because all the weekends I was out for club duties. After Nzoia was disbanded I joined World Hope in 2006 and won President’s Cup after the team beat Tusker 2-1 in final.
In 2007 I joined Sofapaka and in two weeks I was appointed the tam’s Captain. It was amazing but I had to take the responsibilities because I had done it before during my four years in secondary school.
Up to now am enjoying playing for such professional team in our country. Being the Champions in our debut year was like riding on cloud nine. We were little known and after wining our first five matches we discovered something new in the team. We knew we can win matches as well and we could see the title just ahead of us.
Question: In your football career which Kenya Premier League [KPL] teams have you played for apart from Sofapaka?
James Situma: I played for the defunct Nzoia Sugar then I moved to Nairobis World Hope (currently Nairobi City stars)
Question: Having joined a team that was making a debut in the KPL last season and eventually emerging winners on your first try with Sofapaka what was the actual feeling and what part did you play as the team captain?
James Situma: First many thanks to the Maos church for their prayers and spiritual nourishment besides being Sofapaka being a church founded team.
Thanks to pastor Lemmy Pass and Jimmy Ambajo with this great leader like President Elly Kalekwa. We worked hard and together as team and the fruits of the hard labor came with our surprise win of the KPL title last year. I was overwhelmed because it happened while I was the captain of the team. I had to lead by example.
Question: As the captain of Sofapaka do you feel the departure of former coach Robert Matano has had an impact in the overall team performance? And if yes is it positive or negative?
James Situma: Coach Matano had his own style of doing things and that made us champions especially his policy "DO IT OR LEAVE" it really kept everyone on their toes.
Question: What’s your view on the current coach Sam Ssimbwa who joined the team a few months ago and do you feel with him at the helm you can still clinch the league?
James Situma: Coach Sam Ssimbwa mmmh. We call him Mfalme. Hahaha yeah he is a good coach and we have learnt many new things from him. Our recent good performance at Cecafa’s Kagame Cup in Rwanda tells it all. I believe with him at the helm we can still retain the league title we won last season.
Question: What motivates you to play for Sofapaka and what are some of your roles as the team captain? What does it entail to be a Sofapaka captain and are there any special perks than come with the responsibility?
James Situma: What motivates me at Sofapaka is that we are one family and everyone is free to express himself. The good management and vision makes us work hard each and everyday in the training ground and as captain I have a role to unite the players and to also act as a link with the management because it involves leadership qualities that I possess. No I have no special package in the captain’s role as I don’t need to be special from the other players.
Question: Back to Harambee stars just a few days ago the team lost in the CHAN qualifiers though beating Uganda in the return match. What is your take on Kenya’s performance and what do you think ails the team and what suggestion can you put forward as remedy to the situation?
James Situma: It was really painful to win at home and be knocked out because of away goal rule. In Kenya we have so much talent but it’s also important to have structures put in place to help nature and shape the talents. Its important that the Government fully support the National team Harambee stars for all the upcoming assignments if we are to succeed.
Question: The World Cup is on at South Africa do you feel the foreign coaches are the problem or we should stick to our local coaches?
James Situma: I believe even local coaches are up to the task as long as they are given full support. Even if you bring Jose Mourinho but the same problems are there we will never achieve anything. Let’s be realistic and empower our coaches the same way we would do to the foreign coaches to make a fair playing ground for all.
Question: What are your aspirations as a football player and what is your vision on career enhancement and have you ever got any offers from any foreign teams?
James Situma; My Aspiration is to play professional football in Europe with one of the top teams and i pray to God to guide me on my wish
Question: Who are your local and international role models in football and do you feel motivated by the rise of Dennis Oliech, Musa Otieno and Macdonald Mariga who ply their trade in professional leagues abroad?
James Situma: My role models locally are Dennis Oliech and MacDonald Mariga they have really inspired me because they are true ambassadors of our beloved country Kenya. Internationally my role model is Brazilian defender Lucio, he is a leader on the pitch, down to earth man and also born again.
Question: What can you tell the readers about your club President Elly Kalekwa and his revolution of the Kenyan football with renewed professionalism that every team seeks to emulate Sofapaka?
James Situma: Elly Kalekwa is our team president but to us at Sofapaka he is more than a father to us.He has football at heart and has a big vision for Sofapaka. He has single handedly made Sofapaka to be a professional club.
Sincerely speaking in my football life I have never met a Club President who can call his players deep in the night and talk about football. He likes working with straight forward people and football is his first priority I thank God for giving us such a leader who inspires our confidence.
Question: Are you married or single? Do you have any kids? Apart from that from your family set up do you have other siblings that are into football?
James Situma: No I am currently single and not thinking of getting married any time soon because I am currently concentrating on my career which is my priority.
Question: With Tusker at the top of the table do you hope to turn tables in the second leg and possible get your second KPL title with Sofapaka?
James Situma: The KPL is very competitive and any team in the top 10 stand a good chance of claiming the title. At Sofapaka we have an all round team and pray that every player discovers what he wants to achieve with the team but I am optimistic through Gods grace we will defend the league.
Question: Though many players find it difficult to divulge their pay can the readers have the onus of knowing what is your package at Sofapaka?
James Situma:hahaha ok i can say thanks to Sofapaka welfare for players i have a comfortable package that makes me meet my daily needs and that of my family.
I am happy because in my life in football i have never recieved such an offer given to me by Sofapaka from any of my previous clubs but its also important to note that whatever money any player receives even if its 1000 as long as you can budget and use it within your means you will be comfortable in life.It is God who gives.
Finally James what would you like to tell your fans who have been supporting you and Sofapaka?
James Situma: Our fans support has been overwhelming as they have been loyal and patriotic to the team. They have never given up on us even with negative results. Our gift to them is to win matches.
Finally my thanks to God our creator and to those who helped nurture my talent may God bless them and to God our heavenly father he is the reason for all my success in football.
Thanks Collins and well done KenyanFootie.com for giving us local football information. Be blessed.