You might wonder what football has to do with development, at first, we did too. We spotted a few young people who were engaging the local youth by organising football games. It proved to be a welcome distraction from an otherwise negative culture where crime and unemployment rule.
From these informal gatherings a youth football team “Kibera Saints” developed organically and its formation corresponded with an estimated 80% drop in crime in the area.
There’s a 50% unemployment rate in Kibera and high levels of crime. Record levels of theft, robbery, sexual assault, and gang-related activities contribute to the Nairobi slums having a reputation of being the most dangerous in Africa. Gang culture becomes an easy pastime for young people with little else to turn to.
Sports clubs offer young people a welcome distraction from gang activity, resulting in fewer robberies, thefts and assaults, and an overall drop in crime.
Kenya Saints has certainly proved that theory. Two young men from the slum decided to coach the boys, from then on things really started to improve. They trained the players; established an under-17s team and set up a barbershop to fund the club. It didn’t stop there - similar youth football teams from other districts in Kibera began to emerge, forming a league where teams could compete and improve their skills.
Inspired by the social benefits of the growing football community, we sent two qualified coaches to train the team leaders.
We expected a small group of football coaches and we were amazed when over 50 turned up!
Our coaches successfully delivered four days of training – teaching drills and training methods as well as discussions on health, nutrition, STIs, and social issues like domestic violence.
The newly trained coaches then returned to their teams with new football training methods and the knowledge to teach vital information on health and social issues, enriching young peoples’ personalities and increasing quality of life.
Football now features in some form or other on almost all of the bi-annual trips we've made to Kibera. The various teams have continued to grow and thrive and Kibera Saints (seniors) have continued to be really successful in the local league, and as league champions won promotion to the national Kenyan league two.
Ryan Galpin is a student at Westminster Theological Centre and part of the NC Kibera Project team working with local community leaders to catalyse transformation in one of the largest slums in Africa. He is an NFL fanatic, a coffee snob with a heart for adventure and an eye out for the lost.”
Steve Bounds is a qualified teacher, church pastor and children's author. Steve has been key in developing the curriculum and implementation of the onsite training programmes. He is passionate about developing people and challenging injustice at every level.
Life for women in Kibera is difficult. Along with cooking, cleaning and taking care of the children, many run small businesses to provide essential income for their families. They’re both bread makers and breadwinners.
Life for women in sport is even more difficult. That’s why we loved meeting Betty. This outgoing and enthusiastic young woman coaches an Under-17s football team in Kibera, where a rising football scene has seen record numbers of young people get involved in sport. As a result, fewer teenagers are joining gangs and crime rates are falling. Dramatically.
Betty came along to our football coach training in 2015. Hope for Kibera is keen to nurture sport development in the area, so we sent two qualified coaches to provide training for the football teams’ coaches. But enough of the background information and back to Betty. On the muddy football pitch dampened by Kenya’s rainy season, she told us her story.
“I am a mum. I have a baby girl,” she told us. “So, it’s not easy.”
And as demanding as motherhood in Kibera is, Betty balances it with a full time job as a football coach.
“Coaching is my profession and I like it so much,” she smiled. “I came [to the training session] to learn more. And I’m learning a lot of drills I can share with our clubs and teams.”
Betty’s passion goes beyond coaching. She wants to see women both empowered and involved in sport across Kibera and the rest of Kenya.
“Women are forgotten here in Kenya and we want to encourage them to be players and coaches,” she said. “We need to empower women, so I want to encourage women to come out and join me. In soccer there is so much, but Betty’s passion goes beyond coaching. She wants to see women both empowered and involved in sport across Kibera and the rest of Kenya.
“Women are forgotten here in Kenya and we want to encourage them to be players and coaches,” she said. “We need to empower women, so I want to encourage women to come out and join me. In soccer there is no woman or man, that’s why it’s called a sportsman.”
So, as a young mum, full time football coach and inspiration to women everywhere, how does Betty do it?
“Every morning when I wake up I ask for grace to do my coaching,” she said. “God is in my life and I thank him because he’s the one who teaches me and it’s because of his grace and I can do what I do.”
# UK partnership with Kenyan volunteers
# deliver sustainable improvement
# improve Kibera quality of life