By Suntkay Nyalle (YES 2008-2009, Kenya, placed with AFS-USA in Antioch, CA)
During my YES exchange year, I learned leadership, communication and interpersonal skills that enabled me to challenge myself. When I returned home to Kenya, these skills helped me build an initiative called Goal to Goal, formed in July with the help of my natural family, host family and Fiona Rachel Adhiambo (YES ’12). Goal to Goal Foundation (GGF) Kenya is a sport for development, non-profit initiative, with the objective of using sports to empower youth.
I played on the junior soccer team at my U.S. high school, and it’s there that I was able to learn proper time management skills and manage my soccer talent and education. Without that experience, my life now as a high school teacher, sportsman, youth soccer coach and youth leader would not have been this effective and fulfilling.
As a community organization, GGF aims to create awareness of the importance of education, help youth realize and develop their talents and skills, raise awareness of the dangers of drug abuse and use sports as a tool to keep youth in school and away from the temptations of drug use. We hope participation in sport will bring hope to youth, help them feel valued and empower them to break the situational limits in their lives.
In addition to sports, GGF conducts a number of other activities, such as education empowerment activities from education specialists, community development and parental involvement from community development social workers, guidance and counseling of youth from psychologists, and soccer for under-17 academy development from soccer coaches.
With the help of my host family, my host sister and her husband, who is also a soccer academy coach, Fiona Rachel Adhiambo (YES ’12), a psychologist, Nadra Aor Ogolla, a social worker and George Hannington Ojwaya, a fellow coach, we have so far managed to serve 73 youth ages 10-17 in Kombani, Kwale county.
GGF has also managed to have food programs once every month. Mainly, the initiative has ensured that learning never stops even during the COVID-19 crisis and we have engaged the youth using soccer. In the wake of the partial reopening of schools, we have had back-to-school activities and have managed to give school supplies to 19 boys to help them in their educational journey.
GGF has also been engaging youth in community service activities such as collecting garbage in neighborhoods and teaching them about the importance of peace and security as a way of countering violent extremism and gang-related activities in Kwale county.
We’ve had several normal challenges such as a lack of enough soccer equipment and Covid-19 protective gears, such as masks and sanitizers, due to the rising numbers of boys we are serving. Also, because the boys have sisters, we are hoping to engage the girls in the region as well, but this will need more personnel.
Despite the challenges, however, GGF still has a dream of making a difference, with the help of all the volunteers who are either parents, coaches or soccer stakeholders. We believe in running a first-class soccer program that will enable youth to achieve their purpose and realize their childhood dreams.