Solar power brings night-time soccer to Kenya slum

It is 8pm and amateur teams of youngsters drawn from one of Nairobi’s toughest slums are locked in a five-a-side soccer match..

Normally they would have gone home long before dark to avoid the unsafe night-time streets of Mathare. But that was before the stadium became the first in Kenya to get solar-powered floodlighting, an incentive to stay on.

“We have already begun to see the changes. There is a big turn-out of teams who want to use the pitch for training in the evenings,” said Stephen Muchoki, manager of the Mathare Football for Hope Centre.

The development is a direct legacy of the first World Cup in Africa held in South Africa last year: governing body Fifa afterwards chose 20 African groups to house a Football for Hope Centre to promote the sport, as well as health and education.

One was the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) to which the new solar lighting system was donated by China’s Yingli Green Energy Holding Company, quoted on the New York Stock Exchange.

On top of the extra four hours of light a night provided by the new system, football players welcome the chance to train away from the glare of the powerful equatorial sun.

“During the day, the sun is too direct but at night it is [now] easy to see the ball without straining,” said 16-year-old Edwin Ivusa, a Kenya under-17 international who aims to enter the national team in five years.

Transforming lives
“Training at night is good for our fitness,” added striker Kevin Irungu, a former ball boy. “We run a lot — always on the ball — and we don’t get tired.”

“I didn’t think I would ever have a chance to play in a field like this. But the centre has made us believe in ourselves and think we can do even better and that good things will come,” he said.

Muchoki expects the newly flood-lit pitch to attract more players, and also to be rented out for events to raise funds for the association.

“We are targeting kids between the ages of eight to 18 and also the retired former players who are too busy in the offices during the day and want to train at night,” he said.

MYSA was founded in 1987 and prides itself on having transformed the lives of more than 20 000 Kenyan youths living in the slums through training drills and courses ranging from football coaching to life-saving.

“These drills are very educative because they touch on every aspect of the daily life in the slum areas. They require a lot of concentration and skills from the participants,” said games coordinator Robert Chege.

Programmes are based on those of Streetfootballworld, a non-profit Berlin-based organisation which uses the sport to promote development and gender and social equality in disadvantaged areas.

The Mathare association has a strong showing in ranks of street football — a low-budget version of the game that can be played barefoot in the street without referees — and dominated the previous two street football World Cup competitions in Germany in 2006 and South Africa in 2010.

Alongside its sport training, it runs programmes on HIV/Aids education and organises clean-up groups to help prevent the spread of syndrome in Mathare, which is a collection of mud and corrugated iron shacks without sanitation or infrastructure.

Its pick as one of Fifa’s “20 Centres for 2010” was a boost for its years of work. This centre as well as ones in South Africa, Mali and Namibia have progressed well and are already hosting young sportspeople.

The Mathare stadium is the only sports facility in Kenya with a floodlighting system outside the two stadia in Nairobi — Nyayo National Stadium and the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani — which are powered by the national grid. – AFP

Advertisting

Mabuza’s ‘distant relative’ scored big

Eskom’s woes are often because of boiler problems at its power plants. R50-billion has been set aside to fix them, but some of the contracts are going to questionable entities

ANC faction gunning for Gordhan

The ambush will take place at an NEC meeting about Eskom. But the real target is Cyril Ramaphosa

What the law could clarify this year

Lawfare: Major developments are on the cards where law and politics meet, including the first amendment to South Africa’s Bill of Rights

The secret ‘Warmonger’ at the SSA

A listening device acquired by the agency is at the centre of an alleged R600-million fraud operation
Advertising

Press Releases

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

VUT chancellor, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, dies

The university conferred the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa on Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi for his outstanding leadership contributions to maths and science education development.

Innovate4AMR now in second year

SA's Team pill-Alert aims to tackle antimicrobial resistance by implementing their strategic intervention that ensures patients comply with treatment.

Medical students present solution in Geneva

Kapil Narain and Mohamed Hoosen Suleman were selected to present their strategic intervention to tackle antimicrobial resistance to an international panel of experts.