Youth shake hands before every match as a sign of good sportsmanship.
Back in 2013, we were awarded a grant from Rotary International in support of this idea: a youth enrichment football (soccer) league. The concept was simple, but seemed to escape many in the sport for development world. Combining competition with social impact. We utilized our existing curriculum, which was developed thanks to support from big brothers in the SFD world like Coaches Across Continents (CAC) and Grassroots Soccer, and restructured it to fit a competition-style program.
In 2014, we extended this concept to girls in Kumba in celebration of International Women’s Day, which is celebrated around the world annually on March 8th. We shifted our coaches training modules for community leaders and school program leaders to better reflect this new approach to youth development through sport. In addition, we took a risk and extended the concept to Mamfe in collaboration with long-time ally on the ground, United Action for Children. We rounded up 2014 with another girls tournament in Kumba and a U-14 boys tournament in Mamfe. Each of these competitions had life skills themes at the core: time management, preparation, good sportsmanship, and fairplay to name a few.
Players and teams in our league are supported by donors in the USA. Thank to Hampton Soccer Club in Pittsburgh for these jerseys!
In 2015, with support of FIFA Football for Hope, we take our youth league model to the next level. Instead of a 1 or 2 week tournament, we are hosting a full season of activities, which will keep youth on six (6) community-based football teams engaged from February through May. Every two weeks, teams will meet up on Saturday or Sunday and participate in a match which is about more than the game itself. In between game days, they will train with their coaches, learning new football drills and games to improve their technique from Coerver Coaching and become more familiar with the theme for this league, Gender Equality, through CAC games, guided discussions, radio programs, and leadership workshops. Our hope is that each team will compete a community service project before the end of the season. By May, we want all of Kumba to celebrate the players, coaches, parents, and supporters of these six teams who have taken a leap forward using sport as a vehicle for social change and community development!
In our league, every match has a topic to engage the youth. They read motivational statements before each match.