The Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) works with around 24’000 young people per year, integrating a work-readiness curriculum into weekly football leagues spanning the city – from teaching their beneficiaries FIFA-certified skills such as coaching and refereeing, to targeting youth in the slums and training them to fill vacancies in the construction sector, to foundational entrepreneurship skills so that young people are well prepared should they want to start their own businesses.
The project also offers a self-help project that uses innovative methods such as the slum clean-up programme in which teams clear the rubbish and ditches around their homes every weekend. For every completed clean-up project a team earns extra points in the league standings.
Problem to be tackled
Unemployment in Kenya stands at 40%, with 70% of those unemployed between 15-35. This high level of unemployment contributes to escalating incidents of crime and insecurity in the country. Among the urban poor, the majority of young people has little or no workplace skills and is therefore largely excluded from productive economic and social life. In Mathare many female youth turn to prostitution as a means of livelihood, with male youth resorting to joining gangs and engaging in criminal activities.
The Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) is a community development organisation that uses sports to engender broad socio-economic development, while also effecting positive social change. MYSA uses sport to empower young people to help them fulfill their potential and achieve their dreams. MYSA is based in Mathare, just outside Nairobi. Mathare is one of the largest and poorest slums in Africa. 900’000 people call these slums their home, living in mud huts with no clean water or sanitation. For the people there it can be hard to stay optimistic about their future. MYSA offers the young people of Mathare hope and the opportunity for a better life.
MYSA was registered as a self-help youth sports and community development project in 1987. It uses sport which combine with community outreach and development activities, to give young people the confidence and skills to aim higher, achieve more in order to improve their lives. Altogether there are 25’364 young people on 1’731 teams (17’770 Boys and 7’594 Girls), MYSA works across 16 zones with 180 ‘clubs’ and makes 14’000 matches possible each year.
The Mathare Youth Sports Association is not only about football; other activities are slum cleanup, AIDS prevention, leadership training, jailed kids, photography, music and other community development activities. Another 10’000 youth from eight countries participate in a similar sport and development project initiated by MYSA in 1999 in the Kakuma refugee camp in northwest Kenya.
Beneficiaries come from across Mathare which is one of the biggest slums in Africa. 41% of Mathare’s population is below 25, half of 18-25 year olds are unemployed – part of a poverty cycle that impacts on every aspect of a young person’s life. There is a lack of formal education because of an insufficient number of schools, children as heads of household and prohibitive school costs at 20% of the average household income.
A lack of health services, overcrowding, pollution, lack of water and sanitation lead to high rates of communicable diseases, and 5% of youth is HIV+. These factors all impact on self-esteem, aspirations and work-readiness.
MYSA runs 16 ‘zones’ throughout the slums, allowing them to reach a wide range of youth, including those in most need.
Between the years 2016 and 2018, The SOL Foundation primarily focuses on the Education and Work Readiness aspects of MYSA’s work, with an additional contribution to the project’s HIV/AIDS Awareness programming. It allows MYSA to train 64 coaches, 64 referees and 40 first-aiders/physiotherapists, who as well as running MYSA’s sporting leagues – which involve coaching 24’000 young people aged 11-24 with a 70/30 male/female ratio – will have the opportunity to work in professional and organised sport thanks to their qualifications. 16 staff will be trained in delivering employability skills to the wider group of beneficiaries across Nairobi through an outreach programme, while the support also funds stipends for coordinators who manage the four slum libraries that provide a free and safe space for MYSA youth to learn, as well as the staff who run the HIV/AIDS educational sessions for youth at the main sites and through the outreach programmes.
LAUREUS SPORT FOR GOOD FOUNDATION
Laureus is a global sports-based charity that works to improve the lives of young people. Laureus uses the power of sport to tackle violence, discrimination and disadvantage around the world, helping programmes and communities overcome challenges as diverse as gang violence, lack of education or employment, gender inequality and gender-based violence, disability, lack of facilities for post trauma mental health recovery, refugee displacement and more.
The first Patron of Laureus was Nelson Mandela. At the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000, President Mandela said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair.” This has become the philosophy of Laureus and the driving force behind its work.
Laureus combines Laureus Sport for Good, the Laureus World Sports Academy and Ambassadors Programme and the Laureus World Sports Awards to form a unique organisation that uses the inspirational power of sport as a force for good.
Laureus was founded by its Patrons Richemont and Daimler and is supported by its Global Partners Mercedes-Benz and IWC Schaffhausen. As per 2016, Laureus Sport for Good has raised over €100 million and supported over 150 projects worldwide which use sport to tackle violence, discrimination and disadvantage. Laureus Sport for Good has helped to improve the lives of millions of young people in over 35 countries and is proving that sport can change the world.