Former Kenyan international Kevin “Master” Ochieng believes in second chances.
Even as Ochieng was playing football for several clubs in Kenya, he was always preparing for life in retirement.
After a short professional stint in Oman at Al-Shabab SC in 2008, Ochieng harmonised all his savings and founded Master’s Lounge in Umoja, Nairobi. The Lounge offers alcoholic drinks, beverages and food to its customers.
He had rejoined Mathare United the same year and as he worked hard on the pitch, Master’s Lounge too continued thriving. He would later play for Sofapaka and Gor Mahia as he continued saving and expanding the business.
This was paying off and as he approached the tail end of his football career, Ochieng now had a proper fallback plan. But then the unthinkable happened. In 2014, burglars raided Master’s Lounge and made away with everything they coul.
“What I had worked for 17 years to build was totally brought down in 17 minutes. I was devastated. My source of income was now gone yet I had a family to take care of and bills to pay,” he said.
Fast forward to today, and now Ochieng works in the hospitality industry in Berlin, Germany.
“I am very good at networking and I think that is down to the life skills we were taught at the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA). I have always had a passion in the hospitality industry and that is why I actually started Master’s Lounge.”
“After Master’s Lounge crumbled, God gave me a second chance that changed my life when I could have easily fallen into depression. Through my networks, I got an opportunity in Berlin where I currently work in a restaurant. I am very happy.”
Ochieng, who is capped 25 times, advises Kenyan footballers to start planning for life after football as soon as they sign their first professional contract.
“Football is such a short career and, therefore, you really don’t have the luxury of time. Start small businesses and invest in making them better slowly. Education too is very important. You are never too old to learn so always remain teachable.”
Locally, the 35-year-old Ochieng has played for Mathare United, Sofapaka, Gor Mahia, Posta Rangers and Nairobi City Stars.