Kenyan MLS star speaks out
Lawrence Olum made history as the first Kenyan to win the Major League Soccer Cup with his club Sporting Kansas City.
The soft spoken player turned professional with the Portland Timbers of the USL First division in 2007,before moving to Minnesota Thunder in 2009.
He later played for Austin Aztex and Orlando City before the big move to Sporting Kansas City in the Major League Soccer in September 2011.
Olum sat down with supersport.com’s Collins Okinyo for an exclusive Q and A the first since winning the trophy.
Supersport.com : The readers would like to get a brief history of who is Lawrence Olum your family, school life and where it all started.
Olum: I was born July 10, 1984 to Peter Olum and Magdaline Ojuro. I bounced around a couple of schools at primary level. I went to Catholic Parochial and finally finished my eighth-grade at St. Mary's Mosocho in Kisii. I did my high school at Chemelil Sugar academy where I finished in 2002.
I did marketing and advertising at the Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis USA. I played four years of collegiate soccer for the men's soccer team.
Supersport.com: Who inspired you to play football?
Olum: I came from a family of athletes both parents played volleyball at the national team level and automatically I knew I was going to be into sports; I just did not know which sport I was going to pick volleyball or football.
Supersport.com: What are some of the highlights of your career?
Olum: My highlights have been winning the MLS cup which we did last year(2013 December) and the U.S. Open cup in 2012 it's one of the oldest Trophies in the US.
Supersport.com: How is life as a professional footballer and what are some of the challenges faced?
Olum: Life as a footballer is actually fun. One gets to travel when you're playing, meet a lot of people and go to different places. It however requires discipline because everybody watches your every move. It's a challenge to be mentally prepared for every practice because there can be a lot of distractions.
Supersport.com: You recently won the MLS Cup with Kansas City describe the feeling at that moment considering you were the first ever Kenyan to do so.
Olum: It's a feeling you can't describe. It was a lot of mixed emotions going on at the same time. At the end of it all it was a feeling of joy that we had won the MLS cup.
Supersport.com: Who has been your role model both locally and internationally?
Olum: My local heroes are both my parents they have showed me that through hard work and determination you can accomplish a lot of things. Internationally I have been a fan of Patrick Vieira and Yaya Toure.
Supersport.com: How does it feel that the Kenya national team selectors have not given you a call up?
I have been called up a couple of times it just never materialized to me making it to the team.
Supersport.com: Will you accept another call up to the national team whenever called upon?
Olum: The pride of any footballer is to play for his national team but these things cannot be forced since the coaches must have you in their plans.
Supersport.com: what do you think ails Kenyan football and what should be done to make amends?
Olum: What ails Kenyan football is lack of vision. We do not see where we want football to be in the near future. Football is a sport that grows and changes and I don't think we are changing with it. As a footballing country we still look at things the same way we did 20 years ago. It's evident in the national team to the local clubs.
Facilities are still the same in quality which is subpar to what other nations are doing. All I can say is we have a very long way to go even to compete with other African countries like South Africa. We need to have visionaries who understand what we need as nation.
With the little we have we should be at the best. We have players playing in different leagues that are thriving. We should take what experience they have to learn what is making those leagues Better. Apply those here and try improve the quality of football at home.
Supersport.com: What are your thoughts about the Kenyan Premier League?
Olum: The Kenyan league is growing in popularity in that games are being watched on TV. The quality of pitches and players are still low compared to other countries. We still have a long way to go.
Supersport.com: Share with the readers your aspirations for the future.
Olum: My aspiration is to make a difference in this life either through football or any other venture that I will go through. I hope to be able to see that difference or if not that difference could be felt by generations after am gone.
Supersport.com: What advice would you give the young footballers in Kenya dreaming to play abroad?
Olum: Its important that young players make informed decisions in their career so that it cannot affect them in the future. Playing football at the highest level involves discipline, hard work and commitment in order to succeed. They must believe in God and luck will be on their side too.
Supersport.com: What are your hobbies, favourite food and music ?
Olum: My hobbies including listening to reggae and I love Thai food so much with curry.
Supersport.com: What is your parting shot to your fans?
Olum: I would like to thank all my fans for the continued support and I promise to give my best whenever called upon and make them happy. Nothing is impossible in this world as long as you are determined.