Mark Makwata
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Johnmark Makwata: Deadly marksman on football mission towering in nine clubs in four countries

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Mark Makwata featuring for Kenya Police against Gor Mahia in an FKF-PL match at Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani on November 6, 2021.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

One characteristic you will never begrudge much-travelled Kenyan footballer Johnmark Makwata is the courage to take risks.

From halting his education to quitting a secure job with Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), and against his family’s wish, to shifting clubs on the go, the Kenya international has made several drastic decisions to pursue a career in professional football.

At 29 years old, Makwata has already played for nine different clubs in four countries, earning him the journeyman tag. He has no regrets about being branded so.

“I always like where things are straight. If I’m somewhere and I see that things are not okay then I just move. I don’t care how people view or call me,” the red-hot striker, now plying his trade with Football Kenya Federation Premier League side Kariobangi Sharks, tells Nation Sport.

Makwata’s cockiness may be attributed to the impressive mark he has left in most of the clubs he has turned out for.

A case in point is with his current club Sharks that he joined on the last day of the January/February transfer window period.

Makwata quickly settled into what he does best -- scoring goals and is currently the club’s top scorer with a whopping 17 goals in 19 matches.

He is third in the FKF-PL’s Golden Boot race with 14 goals, two shy of leader Benson Omala of Gor Mahia.

His last came via a penalty on Saturday, June 15 in Sharks 1-0 league victory over Bidco United in Machakos

Kenya Police striker Tito Okello is second on the top scorers’ list with 15 goals.

So impressive has Makwata been for Sharks that the team’s coach William Muluya could only invoke the divine in reaction to the striker’s superb performance of scoring four goals in their 5-2 league win over Sofapaka on May 11 at Dandora Stadium in Nairobi.

“Johnmark Makwata God bless him…I don’t have much to say about him, may God bless him,” Muluya said after the match.

For the ruthless attacker, it was just another day in the office.

Notching four goals

He vaguely recalls notching four goals in a single match on two previous occasions -- one against Zoo Kericho many years back.

Makwata reckons that, while he was confident of revitalising the Sharks’ attack, he never expected his performance to be exceptional.

“The target at first was seven league goals. That was the deal with the coach (Muluya) because I had not attained the required match fitness level, having not played in the first leg and not done the pre-season,” says the last born in a family of five.

On average he has been scoring a goal a match. Impressive!

Johnmark Makwata

Johnmark Makwata playing for Ulinzi Stars against Kakamega Homeboys in a SportPesa Premier League match at Afraha Stadium on May 26, 2026.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

He attributes his remarkable performance to good preparation by the team’s technical bench and Sharks’ aggressive style of football.

“The scoring opportunities are always plentiful because of the team’s style of play but all that starts in training. It’s never guesswork on match day,” says the alumnus of Bungoma District Education Board Primary School and St. Lukes Kimilili Boys High School in Bungoma.

Two rounds of matches are remaining to the end of the league season and Makwata is very much in the race to clinch the league’s Golden Boot award.

The gong would not be new to him.

Won Golden Boot

Makwata won the Premier League Golden Boot award in 2016, with a striker of 15 while playing for Ulinzi.

“I’m not focused on being the top scorer because it was not my main objective. But now that there is a chance for it, I would be delighted if I’m the lucky one,” says the striker.

Makwata previously featured for Nairobi City Stars, AFC Leopards, and Kenya Police in Kenya’s top flight league.

He has also turned out for Zambian giants Zesco United and Buidcon FC (Zambia), Al Nasr Sporting Club of Kuwait and Gaborone United of Botswana.

The Sharks’ marksman was forced to spend the first leg of this season in the cold because his International Transfer Certificate from Botswana could not be obtained in time.He terms it as the “worst” period of his football career.

Deals with Tusker, Bandari, KCB and Shabana fell through before he approached Muluya and eventually signed with Sharks.

John Mark Makwata

John Mark Makwata (right) playing for AFC Leopards FC tussles for the ball with Likono Georson of Posta Rangers FC during their Kenyan Premier League match at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos County on January 8, 2020.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

And his half season has been so good he reveals several clubs in and out of the country are inquiring about his services. But Makwata declined to divulge the names of his suitors.

His wish? To again ply his trade abroad -- the main reason he made the tough decision to quit KDF in 2016 after clinching the Golden Boot with the soldiers.

He had then served in the military for three years.

vicxtorThanks to Makwata’s inclusion in the SportPesa All Stars team that lost 2-1 to England’s Hull City on February 27, 2017, at KCOM Stadium in Kingston, he received several offers from Europe.

Yet he had to let them pass since KDF personnel are prohibited from joining foreign-based clubs.

“I got so frustrated because my dream was always to play in Europe. Offers came from Sweden and Slovakia but I could not take them.

“That is what pushed me to resign from the military,” recalls the marksman. “It wasn’t easy convincing my family that I had decided to leave the military to concentrate on football. It was something unimaginable but I have never regretted it.”

That was not the only time Makwata has gone against his family’s wishes to pursue his passion of being a professional footballer.

After graduating with a Diploma in Business Administration from Star College of Management Studies in Nairobi, he went against the desires of family to furthers his education.

“I seriously disagreed with my mother because, instead of continuing with my education as per her wish, I chose the football path.

“My family only softened their stand after they started reading about me in the newspapers when I was playing for City Stars and when I joined the military,” he narrates.

“Because then it was very difficult to join the military. It was a shock to them I had landed a career in the military thanks to my football talent.”

Makwata began playing football in primary school, but it was only after he became a regular at St Lukes Kimilili Boys High School’s football team that he realised how talented he was in the sport.

He recalls always being taken aback by selected to the school team while in Form One and rather small in physique.

JMJ Academy

“You had to be big (in size) to make it in the team,” he says.

After high school, he joined JMJ Academy in Nairobi before City Stars signed him.

It was after Makwata joined Ulinzi from City Stars in 2013 and shifted positions that his scoring prowess exploded.

He says it wasn’t difficult for him to transition from an attacking midfielder to a striker.

“It (converting to a striker) was easy because even as an attacking midfielder, you are always there in the box.

“There was not much change because it is all about movement in the box and I think that is one of my strongest capabilities,” says the attacker who was third in the league’s top scorers’ chart in 2015 with 14 goals, behind Golden Boot winner Jesse Were (Tusker) with 22 and runner up Michael Olunga (Gor Mahia) with 19.

John Makwata featuring for Nairobi City Stars dribbles the ball past AFC Leopards midfielder Oscar Kadenge (right) and Joash Mang'oli during their Kenyan Premier League match on August 21, 2011 at Nyayo National Stadium.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

The white, trophy-filled cabinet in Makwata’s sitting room is a clear testament that his football journey has been remarkable.

Apart from the 2016 FKF-PL Golden Boot award, it is the 2020/21 Zambia Super League winners’ medal that the attacker treasures most in the cabinet that also houses several match balls he has received after scoring hat-tricks.

He lifted the Zambia Super League title with Zesco in 2021.

Makwata confesses that the one-season contract he penned with Al Nasr Sporting Club of Kuwait in August 2018, has been the most lucrative deal he has ever sealed.

Sh15 million

He reveals that he pocketed about Sh15 million from the deal.

Without giving the exact figures, he says the deals with Buildcon and Zesco were also lucrative.

Playing for Gaborone in Botswana, he says, has been the most difficult time of his career abroad.

“That is the toughest country I have been to. It is dry so the environment was very harsh. Adapting to their culture and food was also not easy. All of us (foreign players) left,” said Makwata.

Calling Leopards “home”, owing to how welcoming they have been to him, Makwata hopes to make peace with Ingwe fans by returning to the den before he retires.

When he left Leopards for Zesco in January 2020, he was the FKF-PL top scorer with 13 goals. When on loan with Ingwe in 2022 from the Police, he netted eight goals.

Despite having played for many FKF-PL clubs, Makwata has yet to win the local league title. But he is more distressed by the lack of an international goal.

“That is the one thing that worries me so much. Before I end my career, I want to score some goals for the national team,” says Makwata, who got his first Harambee Stars call-up in 2014 under Coach Bobby Williamson and has 14 international caps under his belt

He admits to being surprised by his omission from the Stars’ squad that faced Burundi and Cote d’Ivoire on June 7 and 11 in their Group “F” World Cup qualifiers at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, Malawi.

“Other games will come and I’m sure I will again be called to the team,” he simply says.

Meanwhile, he says he will keep playing football and scoring goals until his body tells him his time is up.