Tackling violence with football

Tackling violence with football

With the UK's eyes on the European Championship football in summer 2016, we look at an MAF partnership which demonstrates the sport's unifying power among impoverished youth in Kenya

GOAL is a remarkable charity which grew up on the tumultuous streets of Calcutta in 1977. Its aim is to help the poorest, most vulnerable people obtain food, shelter, water, sanitation, healthcare and education in the midst of terrible humanitarian crisis.

Today, it serves 50 countries worldwide, partnering with MAF in Kenya. We flew GOAL Country Director Kerri Kelly to Marsabit recently where her team is working to increase access to water and sanitation through improved water points, installing rainwater harvesting systems and promoting public-private partnerships between communities and the Kenyan government.

A new project kicks off

GOAL is also involved in a project called Integrated Action to End Child Violence which uses football as one of its key strategies. Engaging the youth of Kenya through the world's most popular sport is proving to be a quick and effective method of uniting individuals while inspiring entire communities to tackle violence.

Around the world, violent conflict is an almost inevitable result of entrenched and increasing poverty, and Marsabit's unemployed young people are as susceptible as any to taking that destructive path.

The ultimate goal

In partnership with the EU and the Marsabit County Sports Department, GOAL recently organised a three-day football tournament attended by 320 young people aged 16-23 years. Teamwork on the pitch was promoted as the model for peaceful, co-operative ways of resolving conflict off it – the ultimate goal being a commitment to end child violence.

Jamal Toshe, one of the team captains, commented afterwards, 'We had a lot of fun during the tournament and I'm so happy my team won! Some of these young men have witnessed or been involved in several cases of violence in our community. Because of this tournament we have received messages of peace and understanding that have really taught us a lot about togetherness – it is the key to a better future for all.'

Team captain Jamal Toche at the GOAL tournament in Kenya. Photo credit: GOAL

Jamal Toshe, team captain.

Providing access to the people

Previously working with an international NGO in South Sudan, Kerri has flown with MAF several times in the past, and appreciates the resources we offer to reach isolated peoples.

'MAF runs an important service for the missionary community as well as the NGO community. Without access to the population – especially in South Sudan – it would be impossible to provide program support as well as insuring the needs of the communities we reach are met,' says Kerri.

MAF is pleased to support GOAL staff as they reach out to vulnerable communities in northern Kenya and northern Uganda.

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Story: Katie Machell
Photos: courtesy of GOAL