Just a couple of weeks ago, Paul Willis, Seacoast United’s Executive Director, along with Matt Glode, the Club’s Director of Youth Programs, returned from their trip to Nairobi, Kenya. Through a program sponsored by CARE International, NIKE and the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA), Paul and Matt conducted a 3 day workshop for Kenyan leaders of youth sports organizations as well as assisted with a 4 day clinic for up to 60 different girls each day at MYSA’s facility.
The workshop’s 30 participants, some of which had to travel up to ten hours to arrive in Nairobi, are part of the Sport for Social Change Network (SSCN) in Kenya. The SSCN is a five nation initiative sponsored by CARE International with an overall goal to use sports as an avenue to develop social change as well as HIV /Aids and health education. Seacoast United was specifically asked to be a part of this workshop to teach the SSCN members new techniques including marketing, establishing partnerships and sponsorships, program development and in particular how to encourage girls to become active in sport. All of the members were advised on how to sustain and grow their own organizations and challenged to develop new ways to make it more socially acceptable for girls to participate in sports, specifically soccer.
Along with the workshop, a 4 day clinic was also held for girls who are currently part of the organizations represented at the workshop. With up to 60 different girls each day the clinic was able to impact a large number of athletes, many of whom had great natural ability but little experience with soccer. “It was an eye opening experience to see these young girls playing on a dirt field with bare feet. Even though they have nothing compared to our kids they love the game just the same. It just goes to show that soccer can be used for more than exercise.” Matt was eluding to the fact that two hours of each day, ‘Life Skills’ was built in to the program. “It was amazing to see that games we play at home designed to teach movement off the ball, were instead being used to teach HIV / Aids prevention to make the children aware of the killer disease.”
Both Paul and Matt were in awe of the girls, especially the first day of the clinic where many of the kids who participated had disabilities and special needs. “Taking our socks and shoes off and playing soccer in the dirt was the very least we could do to relate to the girls,” Paul said. “It amazes me that kids all over the world have the same reaction when ever you throw a soccer ball out there. The smiles on their faces and the natural enthusiasm they showed for the sport made all of us feel like 10 year olds!” he later remarked.
Through the workshop and clinic, the SSCN program was able to reach over 200 girls and adults. “We were honored to be selected to run the workshop and participate in the clinics and genuinely believe we made a difference” said Willis. As they say – you can give someone a fish and feed them for a day or you can teach them how to fish and feed them for a life time. Seacoast United became an honorary member of SSCN Kenya and is committed to becoming an active participant. While the Club donated apparel and equipment as part of the trip, just this week Seacoast United donated 40 pairs of girls Nike cleats, socks and was able to secure a laptop for the organizations newly appointed chairman. For any other information on the SSCN or for ways to get involved please contact Paul Willis at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Matt Glode at email@example.com
A Few Movies From The Trip:
Streets of Kenya-
Eva Makes A Ball-
Our First Clinic-