The Kenyan team of male and female football players arrived in Paris, France on Friday August 19, 2011 to participate in the 9th Edition of the Homeless World Cup in Paris. The event is held with a goal to sensitize the public on the situation of the homeless all over the world.
Led by Mohammed Ahmed, the President of the Kenya Homeless Street Soccer Association, the two teams of 8 men, 8 women and their coaches arrived in high spirits in anticipation of the games.
The team was welcomed by Mr. Edwin Maloba, Minister Counsellor of the Embassy of Kenya in Paris, France. Mr. Maloba wished the players and their guides a pleasant stay in France and reminded them that they were goodwill ambassadors of Kenya both on the field and off the field.
The 16 players who had been selected after a selection in Nairobi and Mombasa from over 3000 hopeful footballers expressed their eagerness to win the cup for their country. “Kenya has participated in the Homeless World Cup several times and has performed quite well in the past. We even defeated Brazil in 2006. But this is the first time we have a women’s team,” said Mr. Ahmed. “All the players have significantly improved since the selections in March 2011and we are confident that we will do well,” he added.
The players were selected according to specific criteria based on their socio-economic situation. A number of them live in the slum areas of Nairobi or Mombasa while some have lived in dump sites in places such as Dandora. Others were chosen because they are skilled in football or because they have the drive to improve their lives.
Mr. Ahmed added that the purpose of the teams’ participation goes well beyond football as he hopes that it will translate to better opportunities for the players once they go back to Kenya and that these players will become role models for other youth in difficult situations.
“Someone like Jackline Akoth has a very touching story and at 25 years she has been playing football for a long time and with a lot of passion. I hope she will be able to become a professional player in the future as she is very skilled,” he said.
The Kenyan delegation is supported by Brand Kenya, National Housing Corporation, Nairobi Sports House, Safaricom Foundation, Alive and Kicking as well as the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. They come from various zones such as Huruma, Mathare, Korogocho, Kariobangi, Maili Saba, Dandora, Makongeni, Jericho, Kibera and Kawangware. Once selected, they trained up to five times a week in order to build team spirit and improve their skills in the game. Now, the players say they are eager to win the cup and make their country proud.
KENYA EMBASSY PARIS