by Thomas Bwire
The scorching afternoon sun did not deter the girls whom I found training at the Toi primary school soccer playground last Saturday. The under 16 girls’ soccer team were upbeat as they arrived at 4pm for the Saturday soccer routine practice.
Arriving on time is mandatory for the girl’s team or else one would find herself making several laps within the football pitch.
Within no time, the girls change into the soccer jerseys and start warming up by doing simple exercises, like jogging to help them keep in shape. Warming up takes roughly like 10 minutes, there after they divide themselves into two teams, the Red team and the Blue team, according to the jerseys worn.
Prrrrrrr!!!!!!!! goes the whistle from one of the team leaders, an assistant coach Caroline Mzungu.Within no time, the game begins and all the teams are attentive as they keep on chasing the ball from one end of the field to the other end. I stood outside the soccer pitch and kept watch how the teams were faring on the pitch that has no grass at all, but dust.
Goaaaaaaaaaaaaaal!!! Goes the first goal from the from the Red team. In less than 10 minutes the Red team was leading by 6 goals while the Blue team managed to score only 2.
At half time I grabbed Caroline Mzungu, the assistant coach, for an interview. She helps in training the girls when the coach is not around. She tells me the number of schools involved in the girls soccer program include, Toi primary, Olympic primary, Ayany primary, Raila Educational center and New Adventure primary school.
“Normally our trainings take place from 2pm to 5pm, so as we can let the young girls go home early to help their parents/guardians and also for them to complete their school assignments,” says Caroline. “Here we teach the girls how to dribble the and pass the ball so as they work as a team when they are playing with opponents during friendly matches or even when participating in local tournaments.”
“Why do you like to work with the girls?” I pose this question to her. “I want to help them overcome the adolescent stage, so that they can know how to take good care of themselves as girls. You know most of the girls at this age are very vulnerable to the community especially the boys who can impregnate them. So here besides just playing soccer, we also advise them to be careful by giving life skills lessons” adds Caroline.
Sharon Chadota, aged 13 years old is among the girls who play soccer at Uweza. She plays position number 5 and is happy to be part of the Uweza family. "Coming here helps me avoid bad company and I am also able to nurture my talent," she tells me. These sentiments are also echoed by Elizabeth Adhiambo aged 14 years old. Her ambitions are to play international soccer for one of the big teams in Europe.
With that, the assistant coach blew the whistle for the second half match and by end of the match, the scores stood at Red team 12 goals and the Blue team got 7 goals.
There you have it: Uweza under 16 girls soccer team had their moment! I believe it wasn’t luck smiling down on them, but hard work and dedication that led them to dedicate their time and come together as a team to help nurture their talent. Each Saturday, you can easily find the team as they practice and sweat it out at the Toi Primary School local field that acts as their training ground.