WELSH SPORT HELPS COMMUNITY LEADERS IN KENYA

Five youth workers and sports instructors from Wales are travelling to East Africa to launch a Football for All Project to help grow grassroots leaders and build communities throughout Kenya.

The group will share its professional experience training young Kenyans in practical coaching and how to set up community sport organisations. Through football coaching and training in citizen journalism the project will increase community participation among Kenya’s youth and boost their skills and confidence to help combat inequality, poverty and inter community conflict.

Football For All, has been developed by the British Council in partnership with the Cardiff City Supporters Trust and is supported by the Welsh Football Trust, Urdd Gobaith Cymru (Wales’ largest youth organisation)), the Sports Council of Wales and Cardiff City Football in the Community.

Efa Gruffudd Jones, Chief Executive, Urdd Gobaith Cymru said: “We are excited to be part of this project and we hope to discuss some of what we have learned through working in Wales with young people in Kenya.  We will also look forward to seeing what we can learn from their enthusiasm for sport and their desire to build their communities. Our work with sport is linked with our vision of increasing opportunities for children and young people through the medium of Welsh and it will be interesting to share our belief that sport can be a vehicle for many good outcomes.”

Central to the success of the project will be the training of young Kenyans in how to communicate within their own communities and how to influence local and national authorities to ensure sustainable, positive change. The workshops, led by Welsh volunteers, will offer young people the opportunity to gain new skills and will inspire them to become ‘ambassadors for change’ across the country.

It is ultimately in local settings that youth has its own voice and where it is able to have the greatest impact. One of the main goals of this project is to support the participants in establishing the first Youth Parliament in Kenya. This will be an effective way for young people to make their voice heard in decision-making not just locally but also on a country wide level.

Olga Kelly, Adviser Education and Society, British Council said: “As an international cultural relations organisation the British Council aims to build trust between people and nurture a new generation of leaders who will be able to make the world a better place. This community based ‘Football for All’ project has been devised by a team of young professionals in Wales and Kenya who are passionate about equality and inclusion in their countries. Putting our heads together, we have developed a programme that will inspire and equip participants to organise and maintain sports groups in their own communities. The programme will promote dialogue and community co-operation through sport and cultural activities.

“It all began when a group of young Kenyan people visited Wales in June 2009 as part of the British Council’s ‘Active Citizens’ programme. They were particularly impressed by the educational and community work which they saw which was centred on football and carried out by clubs and voluntary groups across Wales, and this is what prompted the idea of bringing this best practice to Kenya.”

The idea for the project builds on the shared values of all the partners involved and on the spirit and achievement of some of the British Council’s most ambitious programmes.  The ‘Active Citizens’, ‘International Inspirations’ and ‘Premier League’ projects have focussed on promoting social cohesion and education through sport and community empowerment across the globe.

The Welsh trainers and Kenyan participants will kick off the project with a friendly international football match before they get into the serious training.

Tim Hartley, the Chair of Cardiff City Supporters Trust, who has drawn up the week’s programme, said: “We know that football is a game which can transcend the boundaries of language, religion and race. It brings people together and is a force for good.  We are taking our experience in Wales to share with our Kenyan friends so that these young people are not only leaders on the field of play but also become leaders within their own communities. There will be practical training sessions, leadership and communication workshops as well as discussion of the role the participants will play when they head back home from Nairobi. It is great to see all the Welsh sports bodies, the Urdd, Cardiff City, the Football Trust and the Sports Council pulling together to show what Wales can do.”