Soccer Finals February 1, 2013 by Carolina For Kibera
by Leah Berolzheimer
I watched the documentary, “Without a Fight” this past year when it came out. Although I knew at the time that I would soon be in Kibera, I never imagined what it would be like to witness the soccer finals in person. Saying it is a community event doesn’t do it justice. On that Sunday in December, the community came together in so many different ways. There were dozens of teams, hundreds of fans, referees, half time performers, and more.
Most of all, I was impressed by how CFK has made the soccer finals such a desirable event. People truly want to be there, teams will do anything to win, and as a result, a large portion of the sprawling Kibera slum has felt the impact of this tournament.
In my first month volunteering in Kibera, I spent many evenings with CFK’s “Carolina Queens” girls’ under 14 soccer team. I watched them train together; developing as a team, as players, and as people. All of their hard work, as for many of the other teams participating, was in preparation for the December tournament. They had sixty minutes to prove themselves.
Stellah, age 12, and the captain of the Carolina Queen’s U-14 team was proud of their outcome. Although they tied 0-0 with their competitors, The Red Cross girls’ team, she felt like they were well prepared and played to their best abilities. Stellah joined the CFK league last year, but has been playing soccer since she was in class three.
Mueni, who is the Carolina Queens team manager, has been involved in CFK’s sports program since she was a young girl. She was a member of CFK’s first girl’s team, and now she helps to run and coach the team. She has truly had the chance to see the program grow and evolve. Mueni mentioned that she was personally proud to see that everyone involved in the girls match was a female; the coaches, managers, team members, and referees.
Lydiah, a captain of The Red Cross girls’ team, is 15 years old and has been playing soccer since she was in class two. However, this was her first year participating in the tournament. Speaking about what has drawn her to the tournament, Lydiah says “it’s a good thing; the matches are competitive, which makes people want to be a part of it.”
CFK’s tournament is rapidly expanding. More community members and teams want to be involved, and are willing to commit themselves for an entire year to regular practices and matches, to make their way to the tournament.
Yet again, the tournament ended ‘without a fight.’ The soccer program has largely been a foundation for how CFK works as an organization; empowering the community by including people of diverse and different backgrounds. Seeing this community of people working together and managing their problems in a controlled manner is impressive, to say the least.