Way back in 2012, Ndoto began to sponsor a local soccer team in Obunga. It wasn’t a big initiative, but there have always been a lot of kids playing soccer in Obunga and we wanted to support that. In 2020, as the pandemic swept Kenya, Ndoto began to wonder if something more could be made of sports with so many youth stuck at home. As Kenyan schools closed completely for nine months in 2020, there were suddenly plenty of youth interested in playing outdoor sports.
Today, the official Ndoto Sports Academy has five teams and nearly 150 athletes. For the boys, there are under-10, under-14, and under-16 teams. We have a free-age girls team. Then we have the senior team, which is a men’s under-20 team. This young adult team used to just play friendly matches around town, but under the leadership of new sports director Clinton Okoth, they had the vision to play competitively.
In 2022, Ndoto Football Club registered with the Kisumu Central sub-county league to compete with 15 other teams from the area. After 18 rounds, Ndoto is in the middle of the league with 24 points: 6 wins, 6 draws, and 6 losses. We’re incredibly proud of these young men and their coach in their very first competitive season. They’re playing hard and growing as a team.
But if you know Ndoto, you know that our vision doesn’t stop there. Playing competitively is fun and rewarding to the young men who develop the character traits that are best developed in team sports. However, sports provides so many more opportunities for discipleship. There are so many boys and young men who had never known the inside of a church, but through sports they have met the Lord. Their first contact with Jesus didn’t come at Ndoto Community Church, it came on the soccer field, in a team huddle, after practice, or in a social gathering in our gym. Now we see them on Sunday morning without even having to invite them.
|The under-20 team huddles during a friendly match||The girls exercise before a practice||Boys from the under-14 team practice their skills|
Our athletes come from different communities, different ethnic tribes, and even different religions. One young Muslim man named Osama (name changed), after being part of the Sports Academy, turned to Christ and is now a member of our church. We’ve had other Muslim youth listen attentively as we talk about the Bible and patiently answer their questions. Earlier this year, a number of Sports Academy young men were baptized at our church in a big ceremony.
Through sports we motivate youth who were on the path to sex, drugs, and crime to change their courses. Oftentimes, young boys and girls turn to bad decisions because of a lack of positive peer pressure, role models, and mentorship. We can provide all of that through the Sports Academy, and we can catch youth even before they make bad decisions. We have long known that among our Ndoto young ladies, we have a much lower rate of teen pregnancy than the community.
Ndoto Sports is a natural outgrowth of our ministry, and it both deepens and broadens our impact in the community!