Finally, Kakuma Premier League is here!

Youth Protection & Development Officer Tom Mboya posing with Virunga FC, one of teams in the league

In their continued efforts to engage and promote skills development of the youth across Kakuma, LWF’s Youth Protection and Development office officially launched the Kakuma Premier League (KPL) to engage the youth in showcasing their football talents.  The first opening match was played on July 30th 2016 at the Virunga Field in Kakuma 3, Zone 2. As these matches were being played, the team of 5 refugee athletes from Kakuma was in Rio preparing to participate in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics.                                         

The launch presided by Honorine Sommet-Lange, the UNHCR Head of Sub Office attracted a large number of spectators from the LWF team in Kakuma to the UNHCR staff and the security team.

The opening match between Virunga FC and Lamassia FC-a tough game which saw emotions run high- ended on a 2-0 score with Virunga FC emerging as winners. Two other matches were played in HongKong  at the Bafana Field and at the Riverside Field in Kakuma 1, Zone 1 between Alliance FC and All Stars FC, and Okapi FC playing against 99 Mountains FC respectively. Matches will be played every Saturday and Sunday in different fields across the camp starting from 4 pm.12 teams will participate in the league from the open age category in order to make management easier and enable implementers to run it more effectively.

First of its kind

Being the first of its kind in Kakuma, the league is as a result of years of hard work in sports between the refugee and host community of Kakuma.  “Kakuma premier league is an idea that came out of deep soul searching and consultation between LWF and the community youth leaders - managing sports both within the camp and immediate host community. The idea was to take sports beyond its current scope which has been as a recreation activity to keep the youth constructively engaged and to identify, tap and develop the huge talent that exists among the young people of Kakuma,” says Tom Aduwa, LWF Youth Protection and Development Officer.

Platform for showcasing football talents

Compared to the previous system of tournaments and zonal level leagues, this league will give younger players something to look up to, to dream of and to work hard to join. “It will give champions of the league and other players more opportunities to move outside the camp and play in tournaments organized by organizations tasked with running football in Kenya such as the Kenya Football Federation (KFF) and the Kenya Premier League (KPL). This will provide them with opportunities for exposing their talents and for scouts from other teams to identify and pick them out,” adds Tom. Furthermore, the league also seeks to develop an internationally recognized community based sports program with established community sustained structures made up of a large base of players, volunteer coaches, referees, team managers and First Aid Personnel and from where talent, skills and experience can be sourced by scouts from teams in world class football leagues.

Elias Ciza, a refugee youth counterpart for LWF and supervisor of the leagues, expressed his happiness with the initiative. “As counterpart, I have served the LWF youth unit for the last 6 years, so developing this initiative made my dream come true, and it is exactly what the youth have been looking for, and I’m happy it has come to reality under my supervision,” he says. He now hopes to make the league successful to its highest level and ensure peace will prevail during the period and the best results will be obtained.

While giving his remarks during the opening match, the captain of Lamasia FC Ali Amisi thanked LWF and UNHCR for starting such an important league that will create opportunities for Kakuma youth to play in the biggest leagues in the world. Kaskile Cham Cham, the captain of Virunga FC, also appreciated the initiative. “This league is a brilliant idea that will give players motivation to be committed in working on their talents,” he concludes.

The league will work towards enhancing talent and promoting peaceful coexistence in the camp. It is hoped that it will make Kakuma a talent hub in sports where huge clubs from around the world can come to scout for African talent.

The league is currently being sponsored by LWF by offering transport where necessary, making security arrangements, supporting the secretariat of the league, awards and rewards administration, management and accountability of material and financial support to the KPL.