Jackson Maloba: How handball talent helped shape my life

Jackson Maloba: How handball talent helped shape my life

Handball is a  fast growing sport in Kenya, and it is being embraced by many schools, from Primary, Secondary to Universities and even clubs.

For Jackson Juma Maloba, it is not just a game, but something more valuable that has shaped his life. Currently plying his trade with Strathmore University, Maloba shares his experience of how handball has helped open doors for him, from education to  career.

Maloba started playing handball back in 2007, while in Class 7 at Nzoia Primary School. His interest was highly motivated by his teacher Mr Emmanuel Wetangula, whom he says motivated him to play the game as it would also help him get a good school.

” I was highly interested in the game when the teacher ((Mr. Wetangula) told me that playing the game would help me get a good school because I wanted also to perform well in education. The game also looked simple to me because it was just like throwing a stone and it has unique skills unlike other games,” says Maloba.

True to his teacher’s words, after completion of primary education Maloba joined St. Lukes Boys High Schoo in Kimilili, a team which is highly known for conquering the national handball competitions. Maloba says that he immediately got a chance in the school team while in Form One, and although he used to come in as a substitute, he never gave up.

“When I was in Form One, I joined the school team and that motivated me a lot. The support I also got from my coach Mr. Juma Gerald was also very monumental. Without him, my talent could have been wasted,” Maloba asserts.

He however reveals that taking part in the game has had its fair challenges, especially when he got opposition from his father who wanted him to concentrate on education rather than the co-curricular. Maloba however did not heed to that, because he knew playing was also helping him and nothing would deter his passion.

” I knew that if I don’t achieve that, it would inconvenience me but if I achieved, I would prove to my father than taking part in co-curricular  activity was a good choice, which I have done,” he  Maloba reckons.

His quest for glory while at Kimilili Boys needed patience, because it was not until in 2013 when he was in Form Four that they became national handball champions and thereafter represented the school in the East Africa Secondary School games which took place in Liru, Uganda.

After completion of his KCSE exams, Maloba went to Kampala University where he played with them as he awaited for his results. When they were out, he learnt that Strathmore University was offering scholarship opportunities for students who had finished high school and had talents. He applied and went for trials, and as he terms it, ‘God’s favour rested upon his servant.’

He got the scholarship and undertook a Business Information Technology course and graduated in 2017. Life wasn’t a walk in the park while at campus, and Maloba had to balance between class work and games, since the university’s handball team was taking part in the national league.

“I thank Strathmore University because their system supports both class work and co-curricular activities. For instance, we had timetable for classwork and at 5pm, it is sports time. So I usually balanced well because when I was needed in class, I was  present and when the time for games came, I was at the pitch training,” Maloba reveals.

He is currently working and playing with Strathmore University, and he was  recently called to the national team that will take part in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualifiers which will be held in Egypt come January next year. It is a feat which he has gladly welcomed.

“I am very grateful because it is a rare opportunity to be called in the national team. There are very many players in the country and therefore to get a chance is not easy,  I am happy and I am really looking forward to represent my country to the best of my ability because we have a chance to go to Tokyo,” Maloba says in a jubilant mood.

Looking back at his journey, Maloba appreciates and acknowledges the support of his mentor Wetangula who encouraged him to take part in the game, coach Juma Gerald who nurtured his talent and Strathmore University, which not only gave him scholarship to pursue higher education, but has now employed him too.

He also thanks his former teacher Mr Levy Musoga and the then Principal, Mr. Patrick Wandili.

” I remember there were times when I would be sent home  school fees but teacher Musoga ensured I remained and continued learning. Our principal was also supportive of the game and that helped us perform better,” he says.

Maloba has plans of developing the game even more, so that the community can also enjoy the fruits of his success. He says he has plans of coming up with an academy for handball games, which will nurture young upcoming talents.

On the issue of parents deciding what their kids will do in future, Maloba says that they should support their children especially in co-curricular to nurture their talents since not every person performs well in class.