Kenyan sports commentator Bernard Otieno is having his moment after he was called to commentate at the Fifa World Cup 2022.
A look at the sports personality’s illustrious career shows that he is commentating at the World Cup for the third time.
Here is Otieno’s story as told by WoK.
In an interview with Nation, Otieno said he realized his love for football commentary at a tender age when he enjoyed playing football and listening to match commentaries on radio.
“I admired the commentators of “Football Made in Germany” which was popular in my days. My interest was triggered by how the commentators gathered so much information about players. The quest for knowledge on players pushed me to want to give Kenyan stories in that direction,” he said.
Thanks to his love for football, he followed his passion and later joined the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) in the 1980s where he hosted Kenya Sports Diary show.
Otieno’s breakthrough moment was when he was approached to commentate the 1989 Cecafa Cup which was held in Mombasa.
“People were surprised that a Kenyan could give such a good commentary, and that motivated me
“Back then, we had very good Swahili football commentators on radio, and so, with the advent of football on TV, the need for local English commentators arose,” he recalled.
After the Cecafa Cup, Otieno’s career took off as he landed another deal to commentate at the 1997 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Athens, Greek.
A year later, he was approached to commentate at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, making him the first Kenyan journalist to commentate at the tournament.
“In 1998 and 2010, I was asked to commentate on the FIFA World Cup in France and South Africa, respectively. It was mind-blowing
“I have never had so much information at my disposal. The challenge was how to harness it and tell it to the whole world. That was the best experience I ever had,” he said.
Being a commentator and traveling to various countries, Otieno pointed out racial abuse as some of challenges he faces in the line of his work.
“I have faced racial discrimination in Europe and in North Africa. Once I was in a restaurant with five colleagues, the waiter took orders from the four white men and left me out
“I asked why he left me out the waiter just walked away. I did not eat for three days. I relied on my fellow journalists to order food for me,” he said.
He has interacted with high-ranking sports officials such as World Athletics president Sebastian Coe and legends Michael Johnson, Marion Jones and Jonathan Edwards.