CFK’s flagship Sports for Development initiative began in 2001 as an effort to promote peace and reduce ethnic violence in Kibera. Organizing community leagues and tournaments, CFK required each team to be ethnically diverse, and teams earned additional points to improve their league standing by participating in community service activities.
While the project shifted its approach in 2018, its core belief remains the same: sports can do much more than provide entertainment and physical activity.
Kennedy Juma, the Sports for Development Program Officer, joined CFK in 2004 and has focused on adding value to the project. The initiative now implements a Value-Based Sports (VBS) approach, leading players through sports drills and then participatory sessions on drug and substance abuse, crime and violence prevention, and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
“This is not a sports project where students show up, play, and then go home,” Kennedy said. “We take young people and their coaches on a journey where they develop leadership skills, discuss social issues, and learn to appreciate people regardless of their background.”
In addition to providing youth with the opportunity to play and compete, the Sports for Development project involves parents, organizes leadership trainings, and hosts forums to keep young people engaged and monitor progress in the community.
Learning On and Off the Pitch
The Sports for Development project still organizes tournaments, but now it works more closely with schools throughout the community to ensure that “students become learners both in the classroom and on the football pitch.”
As part of the larger Education and Livelihoods program, the sports project has access to partner schools and will take sessions directly to the schools when classes resume normally.
The project also offers “Better Breaks Sports” when schools are not in session, providing young people with a constructive, enjoyable way to spend their free time.
CFK projects do not work in silos; they complement one another and create a web of interconnected initiatives meeting diverse physical and mental health, education, economic, and development needs.
On the field, Kennedy and his team focus on shaping talent and building teamwork. Off the field, they connect youth to CFK resources such as the Entrepreneurship and Economic Development initiative, where youth can develop academically and professionally.
“Sports might be the entry point [to CFK] for many young people in the community, but they get so much more out of it and really excel when they involve themselves in our other programs and projects,” Kennedy said.