It all started five decades ago, long before the emergence of the K’Ogirlo Divas. For years, she has remained an ardent supporter of her childhood team, Gor Mahia, a journey that has seen her nicknamed Mama Gor.
For 53 years, Peggy Ottieno aka Mama Gor, has watched almost all K’Ogalo matches played on local soil. The only times she has missed Gor’s games are when she is ill or attending to other pressing duties.
She has watched the best and the worst of Gor Mahia, from the unveiling of James Siang’a who passed on mid September, to the current crop of players who won the 2015 league season unbeaten.
Her story of allegiance to the team is partly told by her jersey, one that has weathered many seasons.
“My jersey has seen a lot. It may be weather-beaten, but this is what I can afford,” she told The Nairobian, adding that, “Gor Mahia flows in my blood. I love football, I love Gor Mahia.”
Her journey to the stands started many decades ago, when it was very rare to find a woman donning a football jersey, or trooping to the stadium to watch a football game.
Back in the day, football was associated with men. It was in fact considered a taboo of some sort, to have women cheering on the stands with men.
“I was only five years old when I started watching football. I would often accompany young boys and girls from the estate. We would join the long queues at the City Stadium to catch a Gor Mahia match. The men manning the gates always allowed us in owing to our innocent passion for the game,” says Peggy.
She says she would marvel at how grown men got engrossed in the game, cheering and jeering in equal measure. Unknown to her, her allegiance to the game was taking root with every goal, heartbreak, cheer and match. But it was the singing and dancing that made her fall in love with football.
She soon became a regular at the stadium, and an ardent member of the cheering squad. And as she advanced in age, the men accepted her, as part of them. No one could kick her out just because she was a lady.
“Some women were not so lucky. The men would chase them away, or just pick on them because of their dressing. I was among the very few who would enter the stadium without any problem,” recalls Peggy.
As her 60th birthday nears, Peggy may have lost count of the number of Gor matches she has watched, her love for K’Ogalo, and the game has not waned. It is that love that propelled her to try her hand in coaching.