A Football Club for Older Men

These older men, some top executives
These older men, some top executives, relish their love for football and the accompanying fitness it gives them. COURTESY 

It is a chilly Sunday morning and as most people nurse hangovers after a night-out on Saturday, about 20 men are already playing football to keep fit.

A few minutes past 9am, they are back home after sweating it out at Camp Toyoyo football pitch on Nairobi's Jogoo Road.

Douglas Nyakundi is one of the Nairobi residents who has been playing football at Camp Toyoyo. In his tracks and a matching AC Milan jersey, he joins his teammates, mostly men in their 40s and 50s, to keep fit through football.

A Sunday morning visit to most football pitches in Nairobi paints a picture of the working class slugging it out on football pitches.

“I keep fit and keep lifestyle diseases at bay. When we play, we are invincible. We have this sense of determination that drives us to unimaginable heights. It is a feeling that I can’t accurately put into words,” says Douglas who has played for Maxwell FC for 15 years now.

These intense soccer sessions are however not for the faint-hearted and Douglas admits that just like young footballers, they jog and do gym workouts midweek.

It helps them prepare physically ahead of a tough two-hour football match.

It is also not easy to balance family weekend demands with football. Most come to the field with their children while at times, their wives join in especially during friendly matches to motivate them.

“I encourage my family to join me and watch from the stands. That way, we spend time together while they see me on the pitch. It is also a motivation, my boys who also love soccer may pursue it in future,” says Douglas, walking off the pitch with his two sons.

His teammate Enock Owino is in his 50s and equally enjoys playing football every Sunday.

They are part of the Maxwell FC, a team that has grown from the time the players were in University of Nairobi and now boasts of more than 30 members.

“I will keep playing for as long as my body allows,” Enock answers when asked how long he plans to play soccer.

The Sunday morning soccer euphoria has drawn fresh university graduates who are starting their professional careers.

Younger players

Maxwell FC team also attracts young football lovers, especially those who have just started working.

Dickens Omollo, a Business Administration graduate from the University of Nairobi is one of the few players at Maxwell FC who is below 30.

Since graduating from university in 2017, the soft-spoken Dickens has found a new home in a team of veterans. He admits their fitness levels defy their age.

“It’s a great team and the fitness level of the wazees is amazing!” he chuckles.

He says he always finds it tough competing with the veterans.

But they motivate him to keep playing well into his 40s, he says.

The team is currently playing in the Wazee Pamoja League, which draws eight teams with players above 35 years to compete across the city.

Unlike the normal league competitions, both teams head out for a meal and drinks after every game with the hosts footing the bill. This mostly happens at Nairobi's Burma meat market whenever the matches are played at City Stadium.

“Football keeps you alive. It also gives you memories of the past years, not forgetting that it is a way of socialising,” says Douglas.