|The senior team registered to compete in the County League this year.|
There are many ways to reach youth, but one of the weakest ways is to wait for them to come to your church. Young people are all over our communities, and whether they are in the US or Kenya, they need older mentors and guides to show them the way. Since outdoor sports are one of the basic building blocks of Kenyan culture, Ndoto has been working with young soccer players from our community since 2012.
Since we formalized the Ndoto Sports Academy and began to register teams in 2022, our impact has only grown. The young men and women come not only to play sports, but for the comradery found on a team and for the mentorship of our coaches and pastors. Today we have nearly 150 soccer players gathering on several teams of different ages. These students go beyond our sponsorship program. Only 7 boys and 1 girl in the group are sponsored!
|Clinton earned his coaching certificate in June 2022|
Last year, the senior team of boys took a chance and registered in a competitive area league. After finishing 5th out of 18 teams, they registered for the 2023 season in the next league up, where they will compete with teams from across the entire county. During the season last year, Clinton, who leads the sports initiative, trained to become a certified coach with the Football Kenya Federation. That training has translated to increased success for the teams on the field!
Over the holidays around Christmas and New Year, the Ndoto Sports Academy organized many friendly matches for all of the teams. Besides the senior, under-14, and under-16 boys teams, there is also a free-age girls team. Young girls in a place like the slums of Obunga face a lot of challenges and they say that soccer gives them a safe place to grow and keeps them busy. The under-16 boys played in a short tournament over the school break and advanced all the way to the semi-finals.
|Shafi is a 23 year old right-footed winger on the senior team.|
Ndoto Sports Academy also provides a welcoming home for anyone in the community. Muslim families can feel ostracized in many parts of Kenya, but we have always welcomed anyone to our programs regardless of faith. Shafi, one of the Muslims in our Soccer Academy, says he has found Ndoto to be a place of love, care, respect, and fellowship, even when he visits our church services and attends devotional sessions with the team. He has registered with the team for the County league, which began on February 12th.
Michael, our Kenya ministry director and church pastor, says, "We have the opportunity to catch a large number of youths through sports, but we can do it with God's help, one life at a time, one day a week, and in no time we will be able to see the fruits of our labor. We are in the process of building relationships far and wide and with as many as possible." As our ministry leaders build trust with youth and with the community, they are listened to when they advise someone, intervene in bad situations, or talk about the love that God has for us.