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UN team joins Mathare United for Sports and Community Service in Korogocho Slums

2 July 2011
2011-07-2_UNHABITAT_Mathare-UNON partnership.JPG
UNON football team with Mathare United
players take the youth through a football
clinic session © UN-HABITAT

Nairobi (UN-HABITAT) -- The United Nations at Nairobi (UNON) football team recently joined hands with Mathare United Football Club for a football clinic as well as a cleanup exercise of the Korogocho slums in Nairobi.

The Slum is part of ones earmarked to benefit from the "Dream Balls for Hope and Development Initiative", which aims to promote sports development in urban areas. UN-HABITAT is partnering with Hyundai in distributing the balls. Speaking to the Youth at the event Wei Wang, Chinese Mission to UNEP Focal Point and also a member of the UNON football team, noted that "What we give is only half a day, what we change is their whole life".

For the past two decades, the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) an affiliate of the renowned Mathare United Club, has been helping the youth to become responsible citizens and develop healthy bodies and spirits. Its' activities have included providing training and organising tournaments within the 16 most deprived slums of Nairobi. The youth are taught on issues suchs as leadership, environmental clean-ups, HIV/AIDS awareness programmes and other community service activities. The association has approximately 20,000 youth participants, with over 14,000 in the football programme.

The UNON football team is composed of staff members from various UN agencies in the Gigiri Compound as well as staff from embassies in Nairobi. Korogocho which means 'garbage' in Kiswahili, is one of the 17 slums in Nairobi and is inhabited by a large number of urban youths experiencing unemployment and lack of proper education. The football clinic was developed as a concept of sharing technical skills and general advice with the youth. It was on this occasion that a match under the Nairobi Slum tournament between teams of players aged under 11 years was organized.

In addition to the soccer clinic session, the UNON team, together with Mathare United Club, and the community, armed with shovels, wheelbarrows and rakes, conducted a cleanup exercise, in the surroundings of the football field as well as neighbouring schools. "This activity was essential, to provide an example to the youth of Korogocho and other slums that cleanliness is linked to a healthy sanitary environment", said Jean Bonzi, UN-HABITAT Human Settlements Officer.

The activity provides an opportunity for organizations such as UN-HABITAT to leverage on the use of sports as a means of advocating for safer cities as well as improvements in Water, Sanitation and Solid Waste disposal. The UN team is planning a series of such initiatives across the many slums that exists in the city as a way of giving back to the community. In addition, the UNON team will examine possible avenues of liaising with the organizers of the Nairobi Slum football championship to further the HABITAT agenda for youth through sports and Slum upgrading.

The Minister of Housing and the representative of the Prime Minister's Office, Beatrice Gambo, both pledged their support to the project. "This is a great initiative but we must now insure that we look to supply spaces for young people to play and train as well as the equipment to do so," said Minister Shitanda. Ms. Gambo emphasised the need for increased participation of young women in games such as football.

UN-HABITAT's Governing Council session, will discuss the agency's policy and vision for the coming years. The theme is Sustainable Urban Development through Expanding Equitable Access to Land, Housing, Basic Services and Infrastructure.

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