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Omondi Korea fixes sights on the U20 team

After years of service to Kenyan football, renowned coach Charles Korea Omondi has set the national Under 20 head coach job as his top target before calling it a day in the sport.

A good goalkeeper in his day, Korea represented Gor Mahia in 1993, and joined Red Berets two years later. He moved to Nakuru Police in 1998 before winding up his playing days at the Presidential Escort team.

Korea has been the Friendship Inter Sports Academy (Fisa) coach since its inception in 2006. His efforts at Fisa have seen the academy grow into one of the best sports development institutions in East Africa.

AFC Leopards’ Paul Were, Gor Mahia trio of Musa Mohammed, Patrick Oboya and Kevin Omondi, Bandari’s Ibrahim Kitawi, City Stars’ Victor Ashiga and Michael Juma are just a few of the stars that Korea has moulded.

Most Kenyan Premier League clubs have at least one player who has passed through his hand.

Korea had a passion for working with young players since moving to Nairobi in the early 1990’s, while he was still a budding goalkeeper.

South B United – an U10 side- was Korea’s brainchild, and the club’s main aim was to help prevent the young boys from turning into a life of crime. Involvement in crime was a way of life in Mukuru slums where the boys lived.

Criminal world

“After young people finished their class eight examinations, they got sucked into the criminal world. I thought of impacting their lives by changing their mind sets. Since I did not have the resources and could not approach the big boys, I decided to recruit a team of young players – some aged 10, and began coaching them,” he said.

Korea’s team beat Land Mawe in the final of a tournament he organised at the South B Police Depot in 1994, after which he got a nickname that stuck.

“I named the tournament the Korea Cup and after we won, everyone started calling me Korea. Today, few people know me by my baptismal name,” he said.

By 1995, South B United had U10, U12, U14 and U18 teams but, unfortunately it folded the next year when he joined the Police Academy in Kigango.

Luckily, when Fisa was formed, former South B United players joined it. 

“One of my fondest memories was in 2010 during the East and Central Africa Youth Championships in which Fisa took part in Arusha. I was named best coach,” said Korea.