"Football is not just a simple game. It's also a weapon of the revolution." ~Che Guevara
|Sarah VP, Madi President, Lexi Communications Director and Founder|
Like many African nations, the historical instability of Kenya needs to be considered before we embark on the tale of Nehemiah FC. Kenya has been an independent nation since 1964 and, like many other nations in the region, had to shake colonial rule from European settlers before building its own independent republic. Since their independence, they have faced issues of corruption from their political leaders and intense political, economic and humanitarian crises as recently as 2007. International organizations have intervened and established many opportunities in terms of health care and education, but there is still room for improvement.
"Africa can only be transformed by enlightened leaders" ~Patrick AwuahIn January of 2012, Lexi Krueger, my Kenya expert, came to me with a project proposal. "They want a football club!" Her father was getting ready to leave for Africa to return to the farm that they helped establish and had resided on for several years in the Miwani District of Kenya. A recent missionary to the area through Nehemiah International had asked about the wants and needs of the people in Nehemiah and the surrounding villages. Their consensus was a football club, for like Che Guevara and the Trinity Youth, they recognized the power that football wields.
Lexi and I eagerly accepted the challenge and took on the project, knowing that although we are young (seventeen years old), age is but a number and it's a label we can shake off. Working with Shebby Mesharch, a resident of the farm in Nehemiah and a young (21-year-old) student himself, we were able to get a plan in motion. In the following months we skyped, Facebooked and emailed back and forth with our new club representatives on the farm, quickly establishing our hopes for the club. We didn't want this to be a short-lived endeavor, we wanted to create a permanent club that was self-sustaining and would continue to bring positive influences to the community. We wanted it to be a tool of unity for those who were unable to attend church on a regular basis or who didn't participate in other community events. We wanted it to be a connection between two communities in two completely different countries and a bridge between the people of two very different cultures. But most of all, we wanted it to be a way to educate the youth in both the United States and Kenya.
"I happen to be a stubborn optimist who strongly believes in the power of human potential. I believe that there is no limit to what you can achieve." ~Raynold AlorseThere is a hidden beauty in the dusty, unpaved streets, overgrown, patchy soccer pitches and clear signs of poverty that were captured in the images of Nehemiah FC's friendly matches and practices. That beauty is potential, and even though now we sit back and think that we have come so far, we have barely scratched the surface.
Football is more than just a game and we are utilizing its potential. In the next five years we hope to develop a successful youth academy that not only provides the youth of Miwani with a physical outlet and a place of recreation, but with a safe haven where they can seek any necessity from mentors to medical care. By using sport as a tool to unify, educate and empower, we hope to create strong individuals who can one day give back to the world in the same way that we aim to now. As former Microsoft employee and university founder Patrick Awuah said in his talk at a TED conference in June of 2007, "Africa can only be transformed by enlightened leaders." Not only does Nehemiah FC hope to bring success, hope and unity to the communities we have immersed ourselves in, but we also hope to make a statement on human potential. We hope to defy the stereotypes that have been crudely and ignorantly slapped onto our generation. We hope to prove to the world that although we are young, and although we are inexperienced, we can do incredibly big things and last of all, we hope to set an example for other people like us who have dared to dream as well as one for those who have not yet recognized their potential to do amazing things.
To help us raise money to send the club staff from America to Kenya in 2013, please visit our Fundly site