The defender is yet to secure football freedom
Previously, match-fixing claims in the FKFPL and other leagues were mostly rumors discussed in hushed tones, until February 2020 when FIFA dropped the bombshell, banning four former Kakamega Homeboyz FC players for the vice.
The fear of many had finally been confirmed. The four, including three Kenyans; Moses Chikati, Festus Okiring, and Festo Omukoto, were each handed four year-bans, while Ugandan George Mandela was given a life ban.
Three years down the line, Mozzart Sport caught up with Okiring and sought to know how life has been since he was separated from the game he claims he so much loved and would like to return to one day when the storm is over.
The former Nzoia Sugar FC defender, who is now a KDF soldier based at Lanet Barracks, Nakuru, is adamant that he was a victim of association, and could never have participated in the vice.
“How could God bless me with another job if I was a match fixer?,” he posed, adding, “I joined Homeboyz from a small team (Nzoia Sugar FC) where we didn’t know things like match fixing. We were very young and all we wanted to do was to play football, and maybe earn allowance and go home,” he said.
At the time, FIFA’s wrath came down with all its might, Okiring had secured a move to Ulinzi Stars, and was due for military training. He has since graduated.
“I was looking forward to playing for Ulinzi Stars once I was done with military training, but all that went up in smoke following the ban,” he regretted.
He points an accusing finger at Homeboyz chairman Cleophas Shimanyula for framing him because the other three accused were his friends.
“If the other three were involved then it’s up to their conscious, but as for me Toto (Shimanyula) crucified me because the three were my friends and we hung out together,” he said.
Okiring says he has forgiven Toto and they are in talking terms. With increased cases of match-fixing, more players getting suspended by the Football Kenya Federation, FKF, Okiring has a word for upcoming players.
“Match-fixing does not benefit the whole team. If you agree to throw away a game, just a few of you will benefit, but do you care about the other players who are going to lose their allowances? The families that are going to suffer?
“Football is a good game, it gives opportunities to many, but if it does not serve you, look for another thing to do, don’t ruin it,” he stated.