Butali Sugar Warriors Hockey club head coach Cliff Okello is dead. Okello, who led the club to win back-to-back league title in 2014 and 2015 died on Tuesday afternoon after short illness.
Okello, who was better known as ‘Zorro’ fell ill at the beginning of the year, forcing him to miss the just concluded Africa Club Championships held in Nairobi.
His last match with the club was in the final of the KHU playoffs in December, where they lost 0-3 in shoot-outs to Strathmore University Gladiators.
Minutes after news got in that Okello had breathed his last, the hockey fraternity condoled with the family with those who knew him describing his death as a big blow to Kenyan hockey.
Former national team players Zack Aura and William Oketch who played alongside Okello before he took up coaching role, said the fraternity had lost a key role model within the fraternity,.
“I think I was very fortunate to have played with him in the same team and later played under him as my coach. He loved the sport and was a hard worker. He always looked at the best in a player and made him better,” Oketch said.
Aura, who still plays for Butali recalled on how they linked up in 2005 in Kisumu. “He welcomed me in Kisumu Simba and made me feel at home. He was like a father figure to me and has since held my hand to date,” Aura said.
“He was a true champions. He won multiple KHU league titles as a player and a coach. As a player, he was fun to watch and as a coach, he was a strict disciplinarian,” he added. Butali Sugar Warriors forward Brian Musasia said the coach was his mentor as he has always been there for him throughout his career. .
“Zorro was one of the men who stood up and tried to show me some normalcy in the sport. He was always a very strong and giving person,” he said. He was honest, he was loyal and he was loving,” Musasia said.
Former hockey player Robert Okatch said that Kisumu County, where Okello horned his hockey skills has lost one of its gallant sons. Okello joined Kisumu Simba in 1994 as player and played in the All Africa Games 1999.