Tribute to Wabez

Wazalendo 1990

Wycliffe Ongori tribute to Wabez

Julius Odera Nyerere ‘Wabez’, one of the smartest minds I have played with in the sport. With a very intelligent mind in the pitch and would design and craft a way of managing and devouring the opponent.

I met Wabez in the late ‘80s when he was a player in KBL (Kenya Breweries Limited) hockey team and later realized that he was an estate mate in Ngara Railways while we I grew up Ngara Government Quarters. He would later become a team mate and my coach at Wazalendo.

Later on Wabez was called to the national team in the late ‘80s and attended the annual Indira Gandhi tournaments in India in the early ‘90s where he was scored goal of the tournament by scoring a diving tomahawk from a rebound, this was captured aptly in the tournament magazine.

Wabez was one of the most skillful midfielders I have played with and understood the dynamics of the game by analyzing the opponent and would quickly recognize and discover how to counter their strengths as well as how take advantage of the same, we won many matches using this technique.

His passes were always spot on and he could play with any player as he knew how to use their strengths. Wabez had a hard shot and I remember him scoring a short corner through the legs of one of the top keepers and the ball came out of the board before the GK could close the legs.

Wabez was the coach of the ladies U21 team that went on to qualify for junior world cup in Germany and, I believe that is how he named one of his sons Webber, under the tutelage of another great Tobias Oduor then under Kenya Ladies Hockey Association.

The country has lost one of the most brilliant, faithful and lover of the game and sadly it could not provide more opportunities to utilize his immense talent and make his life more comfortable, we hope and pray that with his demise that the younger generation will learn and push the limits of the hockey in honour of Wabez.

Fare thee well Wabez…….

Wazalendo 1990

Moses Majiwa tribute to Wabez

While at University (JKUAT) in my third year (1994), the university had accepted us to have an external coach. We first had Clyde Mmbaha, then Julius Odera aka Wabez came there after, towards the end of 1994 into 1995. As the then Chairman of Wildcats Hockey Club (JKUAT Hockey team) which was at its infancy at that time, I had the obligation of working with the captains to oversee the comfort of the coaches as they worked with us hence my close involvement with Wabez.

As he coached us, we would visit Jamhuri High school as a team to play against his team (the then Kenya Breweries Hockey team ) as well as Inter Capitale, one of the toughest ladies teams of the time which he was also coaching together with the late Tobias Oduor.

We had a very cordially warm relationship with Wabez. Being my coach right from my university days, I admired his demeanor and his style both of coaching and playing. He had this strictness with his players that would produce the best in someone and he knew how to mix it with fatherly relationship that would make someone feel close to him.

On the pitch he was a very serious man wanting results, off the pitch, he was quite compassionate and very caring. He had a great influence in my joining of his team at Jamhuri High School after my University. Through his mentorship, I immediately fitted in the higher ranks of the club and was invited to the high table at the founding of Wazalendo Hockey club in 1995 to its formal registration in 1998.

We continued to run the club together (among others), him as the player coach, while I was a player with administrative duties here and there.

I first had a close shave with his ailment in 2004 while we were playing Nairobi league at Gymkhana Sports club and he developed fits. I was scared but we later learnt how to manage his situations we helped him from time to time.

The Late Julius was a talented hockey player; he was a very lethal forward. Am yet to see a player with the kind of shots Julius used to unleash when we played.

On Sundays, he would have us compete in taking hard shots against each other as a team. One set would be on one backline while the other set of players would be on the other backline and we would take hits to compete which set of players would take hard shots behind the backline of the other set of
players.He had a knack for developing talents and that is how he became our coach and of course the coach for Inter Capitale as well

He was quite strict and at the same time very accommodative and considerate.

He understood the difficulties that players faced when involved in hockey given that he came from the same background, but he would encourage us to innovatively work ways around our challenges.

We were already looking forward to him gaining full health after the successful second surgery that was carried out on Monday 18th January 2021 and It is terrible that he had to leave us so abruptly like he did, but only God knows why it happened that way.

I remember him as a great coach, an international player who I marveled to play with as a team mate
and as a father to many of us.

He was a highly sociable person and I reminisce the time we would visit him at his home in Kisumu
after our hockey trips in Western Kenya.

I look forward to the day we shall get the chance to pay our last respect to this great man who shaped my hockey life and embraced me into hockey administration. Fare thee well Wabez …….