Scoring for Sanitation: CFK Soccer Teams Participate in WASH United’s Challenge Cup March 12, 2015 by Carolina For Kibera
By: Kennedy Juma, Sports Association Program Officer
Want to know a secret about working with youth? They are some of the best advocates for positive change in a community like Kibera. But to get them engaged, you first have to get their attention through something they love doing. For many youth in Kibera, this means soccer!
On the surface, soccer may seem like just a sport. In reality, lessons about teamwork and collaboration learned through soccer have the power to unite different communities. Soccer also has the power to start conversations on how to improve various aspect of those communities. Over the past couple of years, one topic of civic engagement that CFK has been focusing on has been basic water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in Kibera.
Lack of access to safe drinking water, which leads to poor sanitation and hygiene, forms the basis of a vicious circle of poor health, lost life, lost opportunities, and poverty that prevents millions of people around the world from reaching their full potential. This is especially true in Kibera, where water is expensive—8 times more expensive than it is in Nairobi proper, to be exact—and even then is not necessarily safe to drink. Over the past year, with support from Ronald McDonald House Charities, CFK has worked with community volunteers to set up easy-to-use hand-washing stations in Kiberan households and has developed a promotional campaign on the benefits of proper sanitation and hygiene.
Reaching youth about these topics helps stop the cycle. Making these lessons and workshops fun makes youth even more excited adopt healthy hygiene habits every day. So what better way to teach kids about sanitation and hygiene than before soccer matches? In February, 10 teams from CFK’s Sports Association participated in the WASH United Challenge Cup, a tournament organized by WASH United, an organization that believes that access to clean water and sanitation isn’t charity but a basic human right. In addition to CFK, the tournament brought together athletes from peer organizations Vijana Amani Pamoja (VAP) and Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) who also use soccer to teach healthy habits to youth. VAP and MYSA helped WASH United host the event as well.
Before the tournament began, soccer coach, Susan Mueni, and Community Health Worker, Francis Odera, led workshops and games for all the athletes focused on WASH health facts. The tournament’s crowd—which included children from local primary schools, young mothers who had stopped by, and members of CFK’s jump rope team—wanted to participate in the workshops as well! In total, we reached 350 kids and their parents.
In all, the tournament was a great success in spreading information on proper sanitation and hygiene practices. The icing on the cake? CFK’s teams emerged victors in both the under 10 and 14 categories, beating VAP’s and MYSA’s teams on their own turf! Though CFK’s teams left with trophies, everyone left the tournament knowing the importance of proper hygiene and now have additional knowledge of how to keep themselves safe from preventable disease—knowledge and habits that ultimately save lives.