My soccer journey is what continues to drive me towards achieving a bigger vision where there will be no child playing with barefoot in my neighborhood whilst offering the best platforms for upcoming soccer stars to see their stars shining from the local scene into the international markets.
I envision a model that will enable the young-stars play in a more dignified environment where they don’t get unnecessary injuries and lack the basic needs to nurture their careers in soccer. It is unfortunate to see similar hurdles existing today like those during my journey more than 30+ years playing barefoot and my parents not able to offer soccer shoes (boots) as one of the essential items towards my growth. The problem I seek to address through soccer.
The majority of the youth and children between 12- 25 years are the most vulnerable when it comes to matters, crime, drug abuse, alcoholism, political intolerance just to mention but a few. The same group also lacks the necessary platforms, mentors and resources to help them pursue their talents to the best levels they can.
Together with my friends we founded Mathare North Rangers F.C in 2010 to help nurture talent, mentor the children and youth on matters school life, entrepreneurship, leadership and soccer while providing a healthy and safe environment for the kids to become responsible citizen in an environment infiltrated with many challenges. During the weekends and school holiday, you will find kids roaming the streets engaged in nothing meaningful especially in urban informal settlements, my goal is always to create safe spaces in soccer activities where kids receive mentorship, training and have fun to explore more in soccer activities.
I started the soccer shoes and resource mobilization campaign after realizing many youths are playing without shoes or if they have shoes it isn’t safe enough to protect them. This situation contributes to their low self-esteem towards playing to becoming future stars because there are no clear pathways from the grassroots to the top levels. On the other hand, the majority can't afford to buy shoes because parents have other priorities on their list other than buying soccer shoes.
This situation is similar to my story, it reminded me 28 years back when I used to play in the same spaces with my friends with the home-made balls. I'm determined to break this vicious circle at least within my community with the main focus of helping Mathare North Rangers F.C as a successful model of a grassroots initiative that engages the youth beyond soccer. I took this pictures on Sunday 11th October 2020 in my neighborhood. Picture It is unfortunate that much hasn't changed from the base of the pyramid in matter soccer and I believe that every individual effort, even in a small way counts in nurturing the grassroots talents.
This is the reason I started mobilizing resources from my network and beyond to assist young upcoming stars from U12 - U14 play in the ideal spaces with the appropriate gears for the game. This would eventually shield them from injuries and improve their desire to become pro-soccer stars in an environment where it's very unpredictable to make it to the next level in more calculated and professional manner. Since inception in 2000 the campaign has so far reached more than 300+ soccer stars and I'm motivated to do more even with the tough economic challenges brought by the pandemic. The question is how do I achieve a sustainable model in making sure our team Mathare North Rangers F.C will grow into the next level even without my presence.
Currently I'm working on implementing a collective or a shared model where everyone contributes something even if it isn’t on the same rate. Implementation Plan Below is my implementation plan as the Team Manager / Resource mobilizer of Mathare North Rangers F.C a community grass-root soccer club that I founded with friends under Wilsen Initiative (WI) www.wilseninitiative.wordpress.com
My main roles are;
- Mobilize resources for our teams U12, U14 and Over 16.
- Mentorship and training of players and coaches.
- Source for linkages for further exposures for the team at all levels.
- Organize annual community U10 & U12 tournament featuring 18 teams in the community.
- Established Mathare North Rangers Support Group (MNRSP) I continue to encourage the senior players to make small contributions towards the welfare of U10 and U12. Majority of MNSP members aren't stable, but they do make efforts to support the team especially on transportation. Currently, we are seven members including myself and we invite well-wisher
- Reach out to parents by encouraging the young-stars to talk to their parents and guardians to offer support for their soccer activities. Even though the approach is on a slow pace as experienced with our target group where soccer isn't part of the family priorities of need, but we have seen good efforts made by a parent of our U12 towards purchasing of uniforms .
- Continue with the annual call for support mobilization through my individual network and even reach-out to other spaces where I'm not known but explore possibility for support and partnerships. 70% of our resources received in the past were donated by my networks of friends and 10% from our players and 20% from MNRSP members.
- The introduction of top up model based on co-sharing: This means all players in our team (Mathare North Rangers F.C) are encouraged to save 50% of the total cost of a soccer shoe and the other 50% shall be raised by the Mathare North Rangers F.C support group (MNSP). We can only do 3- 5pairs per month and this only applies to players above the U14 years.
- Shoe Shared model: - Every player is encouraged to source for their own shoes for training which can be any shoe provided it is comfortable to play with especially running shoe which we also call 'rubbers' would be ideal compared to playing barefoot. In case we get support for shoes we save them for the game so that any player can use them when they are playing, so this mean we inculcate the culture and spirit of sharing and responsibility. We would wish to get everyone a pair of shoes per year, but it is expensive and we don't have guarantees of annual support from different sources. We choose to go with the shared model due the fact that we don’t have the funds. The sharing model ensures equality within the team as opposed to only awarding a few in a team of more than 30 players without shoes.
- The Next Upraising Star: - Here the main focus is to award individual stars with soccer shoes from the age of U12 -U14 who have shown consistent stellar performance not only in our team but also in other clubs within Mathare North. This is also subject to availability of resources and player don need to apply to be awarded.
- The soccer and resource campaign run all through the year, but more activated in October – December.
- In December we also organize U10 & U12 soccer tournament for kids even though it’s subject to availability of resources to run a successful tournament
To inculcate the culture and spirit of collective responsibility and support where everyone contributes whatever they have as we continue to invite and encourage our wider network for support. We also encourage former Mathare North Rangers players to join the support group.
Thanks to everyone who has supported that calls since inception and I hope you won't give up because the problem still exists. As I work around introducing new sustainable approaches, we still need your assistance in acquiring at-least 10 balls and 10 soccer shoes per year. 2020
Call for Support
I invite you to join me in this year's annual soccer shoes and balls campaign that seeks to connect young stars in Mathare North slums (Mathare North Rangers F.C) with quality soccer shoes and balls to avoid injuries but also to motivate them in their soccer journeys. By the time of posting this article I have acquired 4 new soccer balls and 6 quality playing shoes for the young-stars. The Goal; - • 10 soccer balls and 10 pairs of shoes. Currently I'm left with 6 new balls and 4 soccer shoes. The Target: 1st December 2020. Get in touch with me through firstname.lastname@example.org
Other related links of soccer insights and successful campaign I have initiated in the past years
We Can Do It!