At the heart of everything we do is a love and passion for sport, particularly football. All of us are members of a football team in one of the MYSA leagues – it is the place where we all start our MYSA journeys. Once we are registered with a team, we can take part in any of the other MYSA activities.
Some of us join as individuals and are given a place on a team but it is more common for new members to form their own teams before joining. Altogether there are 25,294 (Boys 17,770 and Girls 7,594) football teams in 180 leagues across MYSA’s 16 zones. We play around 14,000 matches each year.
Points are not awarded for skill – we earn points for taking part. Also, we decide how much time we spend playing football. The keen football players amongst us will spend as much time as they can on the pitch. Other people may choose to do more dance or drama or to spend more time helping out with the HIV/AIDs awareness workshops.
We offer other sports through our Kids with Disabilities program. These include volleyball, basketball and netball, basketball, wheel chair basketball.
The boys’ football league was our first project. It started in 1987 with only five teams competing against one another in the Eastleigh zone. Thanks to the passion and efforts of the youth and volunteers, the project grew quickly and only a year later there were 80 teams.
The administrative work was done by our founder Bob Munro who produced game reports, organised fixtures, recorded the top scorers and best players and set up the community service clean-up schedule.
In 1990, we entered a team into a tournament in Nakuru and they emerged victorious. Since then our boys’ teams have won a number of tournaments including the Coca-Cola provincial Tournament and the East Africa Cup tournament.
In 2006 we won the Street Football World Tournament in Berlin, Germany and successfully defended the trophy in South Africa in 2010.
We have been running girls’ football leagues for nearly 20 years. Today there are over 5,716 girls, playing in 302 teams, in over 63 MYSA girls’ leagues.
Taking part in MYSA makes a big difference to the way that girls in Mathare think about themselves, and the way that the people around them think about them. Traditionally, boys have had the free time to play football but girls were expected to stay at home and help look after the children or do the chores. At MYSA, we are helping to change that. We believe that girls should have the same chances as boys when it comes to taking part in sport, and learning the life skills and values that come when you take play as part of a team.
Girls have been involved in MYSA since 1992, when MYSA staff noticed that local girls were interested in getting involved and invited them to form a team.
At first parents were not sure about their daughters playing a ‘boy’s sport’, and the boys just assumed that the girls wouldn’t be any good. However, the girls were very determined and just four years later, the girls’ under-14s team became the first African girls’ team to reach the final of the Norway Cup, one of the biggest international football tournaments for young people.
This began to change people’s minds. Parents were proud to see their daughters playing football and taking part in the other community activities. Local boys stopped laughing at the idea of girls playing football. And the girls became more confident, and got their friends involved. They have never looked back.
Partnership with Moving the Goalposts (MTG), Kilifi
We have supported other organisations seeking to empower girls in Kenya. Moving the Goalposts (MTG) is a sport and development community-based organisation based in Kilifi district, Coast Province, Kenya. It was set up in 2001 and we advised the organisation about the mobilization of girls through the formation of football teams, running an effective leadership scheme and educating girls about their reproductive health and rights in the community. Today MTG has built up a reputation as a strong and accountable grassroots organisation, which reaches out to well over 2,000 girls in more
Mathare United FC is one of the top four teams in Kenya. The team was set up to give the best MYSA youth players the chance to play professional football in their own country.
Mathare United FC is a separate organisation, sponsored by G4S Security services, Super Sport and XXcel Africa. All the players come from the MYSA leagues. It is the only premier league team in the world where every player is trained to educate peers about HIV/AIDs prevention and performs at least 60 hours of community work a month.
The best players from the MYSA girls’ leagues are chosen to play for Mathare United Women FC, which was formed by MYSA in 2002. The team plays against other teams in the Nairobi Women’s League. The team participates in the East African Tournament and in 2006 it won a gold medal. In the same year the team also won gold in the U16 girls category at the Independence Day Tournament organised by the Ugandan Football Federation (FUFA). The event brings together more than 15 female teams from Uganda and Kenya. During the same year, they were crowned as champions in the MYSA International Girls Tournament, beating 69 teams from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
All the players in Mathare United Women FC come from the MYSA leagues are trained to educate peers about HIV/AIDs and perform at least 60 hours of community work each month, the same as the players in Mathare United FC.