Soccer Finals February 1, 2013  by      

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.

5 Responses to “Soccer Finals”

  1. johnathon currin says:

    I think that this soccer league and the idea of using sports for peace among different tribes is awesome. My class just watched the video without a fight and it really helped me understand what was going on and it taught me a lot about what kibera is like. I would be curious to know if there were other similar organizations, because i found this extremely interesting. I think that the success rate of this group is fantastic and i hope that it continues the same way

  2. Lexi M. says:

    I just recently watched ‘Without a Fight’ and was touched by the amount of people affected by the Champions league. The fact that out of 10,000 matches none ended in fights surprises me, but is a great accomplishment on the part of the foundation. After reading this article, I’m happy to know there is also a girls league in Kibera. I think it would be cool to know more about the girl’s league. A film on the girl’s league would also create hype on the organization.

  3. Nick Debo says:

    Watching “Without a Fight” made me rethink my original thoughts of Kibera. I always thought that this slum was ethnically divided and that there was a lot of instability. I know that crime is still rampant and that living conditions are extremely poor but it is good to see people putting their differences aside to come together to support the soccer league. Establishing this league is a step in the right direction. If there is less violence in the slum than there will be more opportunity for people in Kibera to live better lives.

  4. Chris Lewis says:

    I just finished the movie about 10 minutes ago in my global issues class. I was wondering if this was a portrayal of both the ups and downs of this community? The tribal wars are absolutely horrific and it is crazy how they effect everyone even if they are not part of the certain tribes. However, this soccer league seems to be a great form of release and a great teaching tool for the kids. The movie did a great job of showing just how intense these soccer matches can be, but in the end all of the kids come together whether they win or lose. I would really love to see some more recaps of these games and some more stories about potential future stars.

  5. Daniel says:

    I just finished watching Without a Fight and personally I think soccer is one of the best ways you can connect the tribes. Playing sports, especially team sports like soccer, although competitive connect your teammates and eventually you will get to know your opponents. This idea should be put into place in other slums. It really helps with tribe wars, because no one is going to kill their teammates. I’m glad that there is a girls league as well. Maybe an adult one too?

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