Kenyas Mathare United saluted by top Italian Serie A club

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One of Kenya’s top five teams and formed only few years ago, Mathare United has received praise from top Italian league Serie A  club ,AS Roma for helping talented players & their families escape poverty in the slums.

Mathare United  have won country’s top football award  in 1998 2000, the Moi Golden Cup and have represented Kenya in the Mandela Cup whilst gaining promotion to Kenya’s Premier League.  In the same year they had five of their players in the national side. Not a bad record for any team with top class facilities, expensive coaches and high priced players. But Mathare United has none of these.

All of Mathare United’s players come from the Mathare Valley, one of Africa’s largest and poorest slums, where seventy per cent of the population consists of working mothers and children.

Mathare Valley is a world away from the high tech aura of the Nairobi city centre. Narrow, pot holed roads squeeze incessant traffic between poorly built structures and piles of smouldering rubbish.

It’s vibrant, noisy and dirty, crammed full of people and definitely not on the tourist map. Yet the Mathare Valley is also, underneath the apparent chaos, a model of organization, where the combined energy of 16,000 young people, mostly under 18, has been harnessed to promote a youth culture that could be the envy of the world.

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In 1987 when Nairobi resident, Bob Munro, watched the children of Mathare playing football with a ball made out of old plastic bags.

Munro realized that sport, as a universal language, could be a way of empowering the youth of the valley, allowing them to release their energies in a controlled way.

He then took the idea a step further by linking sport with service to the community and together with Mathare residents, he started a small self help project in which sport participation was linked to cleaning up the slum. Thus was born the Mathare Youth Sports Association, now commonly known as MYSA.

The foundation of MYSA philosophy is football leagues, and the aim, as in leagues the world over, is to win promotion on the basis of points earned. However, in the MYSA leagues it’s how you earn the points that makes the difference. In addition to playing weekend matches, participants must undertake community service projects, for which six league points are awarded to the team for every successful project. Thus points are gained for not only winning the game, but also for cleaning the environment.

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The project started with only 25 boys’ football teams, but has since spread to include girls’ football and sport education in primary schools. Today MYSA is the largest youth sports organization in Africa with over 1000 teams and 14,000 players. Leagues start in the Under 10 age group and progress through to senior level at Under 18. Mathare United, being professional, are not part of the MYSA leagues, but that does not exempt the players from community duties.Image result for mathare players clean environment

Back at Kasarani stadium, players  train for at least an hour, displaying the tight ball control and playing discipline that is the foundation of their success, before heading back to Mathare. Once there they take off their playing shirts and don their community caps, ready for the community service that is integral to being a part of MYSA.

Even though it is not a condition of being in the Premier League, all Mathare United players must complete at least 60 hours community service a month, for which they are paid.

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Many of the players can be found cleaning up the neighbourhood as part of the MYSA ‘Clean Up Project’. Some, however, will go straight from training to Nairobi’s juvenile courts where they help street children who have been arrested as vagrants.

As the children are processed, MYSA volunteers, working in conjunction with the Jamii Bora Trust, give them food, help to secure their release and begin a process which often ends with the children being reunited with their families.

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Associazione Sportiva Roma, commonly referred to as simply Roma , is a professional Italian football club based in Rome. Founded by a merger in 1927, Roma have participated in the top-tier of Italian football for all of their existence except for 1951–52.

AS Roma Team Value1 KSH618 Billion (€525 M)
Team Value calculated June 2018

AS Roma signed a three-year shirt sponsorship deal in April, 2018 with Qatar Airways until 2021 worth a reported KSH1.6 Billion annually.

Roma Team Song: The Roma Song is called Roma Roma Roma

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