Engaging Youth Through Soccer
Sports has been sighted as not just an activity to en- gage the body and promote a healthy lifestyle, but also the mind. Many people view sports as a recreational activity where they come together to strengthen friend- ship, cultural values and improve their social skills.
Soccer, in particular, is among the widely practiced and watched sport in the world possibly due to the less in- frastructural requirement to practice it. In Kenya, soc- cer tops the list attracting a massive following, espe- cially among young people.
A football match was organized under the project: Conflict Prevention, Peace and Economic activities for youth in Kenya with the aim of improving relations be- tween youth from Majengo and Shella in Malindi, Kilifi County. This follows reports of rivalry among the two groups that saw retaliatory attacks.
Thereafter, a dialogue was organized to engage the youth and security actors to improve the relationship between the two groups.
“The match was a golden opportunity for us to inter- act. For a while now, youth from Maweni (Zaragoza)
have not been participating in any serious matches, yet the love for the game is huge,” said Mudh-Hir Adnan, Coach Team Zaragoza. “I loved that after the match we had the opportunity to air out our grievances with the security actors, sometimes we just misunderstand one another yet we can sit at a table and come to a com- mon understanding,” Mudh-Hir added.
Majengo United won the match with four goals against Zaragoza. Amin Fadhil Ali is a striker with Majengo United. ‘I am happy that we got to participate in the match today. My request to Kenya Red Cross and the European Union is to facilitate a League to keep young people engaged and grow their talents,” said Amin Fadhil. “Many young people here have talents but lack someone to help them nurture and grow them. So we end up frustrated, no jobs and finally some find them- selves in crime, drugs or even joining illegal groups like Alshabaab,” Fadhil continued.
Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) with funding from the European Union (EU) is implementing a project with a focus on increasing peace and stability in Kenya through empowering young people. The project: Con- flict Prevention, Peace and Economic Opportunities for
Youth in Kenya is focusing on providing livelihood skills and vocational training for targeted youth in the coast- al and north eastern part of the county.
“In Kilifi County, many young people play soccer. We decided to build on the activity they love most as a way of getting them into conversations on issues that affect them, with the aim of creating a platform for young peo- ple to be heard and equally find solutions,” explained Hakima Masud, Project Officer, Kilifi County. “We bring together youth and the relevant departments of gov- ernment depending on the topic of discussion, this time around it was about security” Hakima added.
The project equally facilitates youth dialogues to exam- ine issues affecting young people and provide relevant solutions. One of the expected results of the project is to enhance the understanding of the causes of conflict through analysis of the underlying drivers of conflict, the effects of grievances and needs on youth.
The counties targeted under the project include: Mom- basa, Kilifi, Lamu, Kwale, Tana River, Garissa, Wajir and Mandera.