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How Zuku’s top player made it

Many people find it difficult to excel in academics and sports, but not so for Geoffrey Oteki.

The 22-year-old is an outstanding example; he doesn’t have to put down his books just because he is talented in sports or the reverse. 

In fact, his case is more difficult because he is studying two very demanding courses and also playing basketball – a sport that requires commitment.

Last year, Oteki was voted the Most Valuable Player during the Zuku Basketball League (ZUBL) and also walked away with the top scorer’s award after leading University of Nairobi (UoN) Terrorists to a 72-68 win over Mount Kenya University (MKU) Nakuru.

Oteki stirred the crowd with his brilliant performance during the tense battle especially with MKU’ s towering defender Eddy Anyang who was a thorn in Terrorists’ flesh.

“That was one of my memorable moments in my basketball career; it was simply sizzling, explosive and we thank God we won,” said Oteki.

Hectic schedule

He plays for two clubs and also studies at two universities. He turns out for Strathmore University, which is in the Kenya Basketball Federation League and is also a member of the Terrorists’ team that competes in the Zuku Basketball league.

As if that is not hectic, Oteki is also a student at the two universities. He is a second year student at UoN where he studies Actuarial Science.

At Strathmore University, he studies a course in Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

“Balancing academics and education is quite a challenge, but I am doing a good job so far as everything is going according to plan,” said Oteki.

He started playing basketball while at Riara Primary School for fun and to pass time. However, it was in high school at Alliance, where he took the sport seriously in 2006.

“I had a choice of either playing rugby or basketball but I went for the latter, and I don’t regret the decision,” said Oteki.

He made the first team at the end of Form Two and by Form Three he was already the school captain, leading Alliance to victory as well as collecting individual honours.

“During the initial days, it was difficult to play and study, but with time I devised a way that worked and everything fell into place. My dream to continue excelling,” he said.

Basketball, hockey and rugby were the three main sports that had the Alliance administration’s support.

“Playing in the school team was awesome, the atmosphere exciting and it was an honour for me,” he said.

He inspired the team to become the 2007 Central Province champions, the 2010 Sprite Slam Championship, and the Nairobi International Schools champions in 2011.

Individually, he won three Most Valuable Player awards, top scorer awards and a host of other prizes.

After high school, he got a basketball scholarship to Nairobi International School were he did his year 12 and 13, while also playing basketball.

His first club after school was Parklands Baptist that played in the Kenya Basketball Federation Divison 1 league. 

After a brief stint, he joined Strathmore and UoN respectively, taking  his game a notch higher.

The Zuku tournament gave him the platform to shine and he did not disappoint – he gave a match-winning performance during the final.

Special final

“We had beaten our biggest rivals Usiu in the semis in a tough match, but the final was special for all of us,” said Oteki.

He inspired his team to the win and hopes to continue grabbing more titles in the coming years. Oteki is eyeing a call up to the national team.

He hopes that sports would grow so that local players can make a living out of it instead of having to keep two jobs to survive.

“I hope sports in Kenya would reach a level where people can live out of it. We hope that some day sports can pay players’ bills,” said Oteki. 

His biggest supporters are his family members.