Sunderland African project uses football to beat poverty

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A LIFE-CHANGING football project is hoping to kick poverty into touch.

Sunderland Samba Kenya Project is stepping up its efforts to reach out to the developing world via the beautiful game.

Since the group’s first trip to Kenya, East Africa, in 2004, they have done much to raise funds, promote the anti racism message and bring unity to communities through a shared interest in football.

As well as a 2013 calendar, the group is hosting a charity night at Farringdon Club in March and team members will run the Half Marathon of the North in April.

The group is also busy collecting used football boots and trainers which can be sold in Kenya to raise funds and create employment.

John Boyd, from Sunderland Samba, said: “The project changes lives both in Sunderland and in Kenya, firstly by giving the opportunity for young people to play as part of a football team who wouldn’t otherwise get the opportunity. This builds positive relationships and confidence which enable further learning and support to take skills, talent and ambitions further.

“Through various initiatives, people lacking opportunity and resources are given a chance whilst volunteers gain a new perspective on life and what they can do through giving and working together.

“In practical terms, young people gain training, qualifications and confidence to move into employment. Social enterprise is encouraged and resourced. Injustice, prejudice and stereotypes are challenged and positive community action enabled. People are encouraged to live healthy lives in all aspects – social, physical, mental, political, spiritual – and support others to do likewise.”

Sunderland Samba FC started life as a five-a-side team in Wearside but they soon realised their ethos of involving young people regardless of background, or skill level, could reach beyond Sunderland.

The Kenya Project started in 2003 through Sunderland Methodist Youth Project and supports ongoing link between Sunderland Samba FC and community groups in Kenya.

They have since made numerous trips to Kenya, helping in some of the poorest areas including Kibera and Mitumba Slum, running workshops and providing football coaching while also fight ingpoverty.

Later this month, Sunderland Samba will host its community Christmas tournament which brings together teams from some of the poorest communities in Nairobi. Money raised at home will go towards staging this and other initiatives.

John added: “Money raised will pay for a feeding programme in a school for orphans in Kibera, Nairobi. £50 a week pays for the whole school of 50 pupils to receive a nutritious daily meal.

“We are also raising for next year’s summer coaching camp for around 50 girls who will develop skills, confidence and make new friends through coaching, matches, art workshops and tree planting.”