Where some people see a dusty soccer pitch, others see opportunity.
Grade three teacher, Weston Kabaghe, did at least. Through teaching and living in Nyangwena for the past two years, Weston realized the many challenges the youth of the village face. He saw them dropping out of school and falling into trouble when they were idle. Weston felt a desire to reach the youth and began thinking of how he could do it.
Weston noticed that many youth played soccer after school but the two teams in existence lacked leadership, organization, and good sportsmanship. Being a seasoned soccer player, Weston, along with a few teachers from the local school, saw an opportunity.
“We wanted to make a program that would invest in the youths and help them find their talents. We wanted to bring back hope to the youth in the village,” said Kabaghe.
So in January, they began the “Nyangwena Soccer Academy.” Weston and the coaches were very clear about teaching a new way of soccer. They were going to focus on teamwork, sportsmanship, and discipline on the pitch.
“When we began, there were two teams in Nyangwena,” commented Kabaghe, “The teams refused to play together and would tease the younger children who came to play. We realized that we are not just coaching soccer, but coaching a person.”
The academy practices five times a week and play matches against local teams on the weekend. Everyday after knocking off from The Esther School, Weston meets the players and other coaches on the pitch for practice. And in the few short months of coming together, the impact is obvious.
Where they was once fighting, players are now working together and encouraging their teammates. The high standard of sportsmanship causes them to be noticed by their opponents, and contributed to their amazing record – only one loss!
One day, Weston hopes to make it a traveling team and to connect it with an organization that uses soccer to share the Gospel. He wants to open the academy up to other teams through soccer clinics or host a tournament. But for now, Weston is thankful.
“We are so proud of the youths. We thank God that He gave us this idea to reach the youth. There are so many good things coming out of this that I didn’t expect. The community is seeing that good things can happen when we come together.”
Weston also formed the Nyangwena Youth Organization in order to provide other ways for youth to get involved, such as singing and acting.