Mathare Youth Sports Association
Nairobi ~ Kenya
Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) uses the universal language of football - combining the enthusiam, enjoyment, ethos and discipline of sporting skills - to empower youth from one of Africa’s largest and poorest slums. MYSA is open to all, avoids ethnic divisions and also brings in children from nearby refugee camps. Started 15 years ago, the Association has over 14,000 boys and girls as members, participating in hundreds of teams that now play successfully in local and international leagues. It provides training in physical education and sporting skills, nurturing talent and offering opportunities for both individual and team achievement and raising self-esteem. Run by youths themselves, team players become role models for the entire community and beyond. But MYSA is not only a football club. Based on the philosophy of fair play, MYSA encourages accountability for one’s actions, in partnerships, teams and in the community. Leadership development and community co-operation are the main principles. Members are involved in programmes to clean-up the environment, in health education, disseminating information and counselling on HIV/Aids, promoting schoolwork, changing gender attitudes, reducing drug abuse and prostitution, monitoring water quality, assisting children that are arrested and working in refugee camps. Arts and cultural activities are part of the programmes. A music school has been started and many children have been trained in photography, developing a library of images which are exhibited locally and internationally. MYSA is an outstanding example of local initiative and development; a model for others.