Thank you for taking the time to read more about why lacrosse in Kenya is so important. Ten years ago, I introduced lacrosse to Kenya, specifically targeting disadvantaged young women. My long term aim was to provide hope and opportunity to underprivileged young African athlete’s, through the power of lacrosse.
Many people have asked me why sport? When some communities need such basic support why introduce lacrosse, surely this money could be better spent directly impacting social needs? It’s a good question. But it’s one that accepts that aid will naturally reach its target and that human nature thrives on charitable handouts. Fortunately, for us all, human nature is far more complex.
Following many coaching visits to Kenya I have discovered that the power of sport produces positive results that no direct funding can achieve. Research has shown that sport contributes to economic improvement, but it is harder to quantify the social impact. The ‘intangible benefits’ of the 2012 Olympics in London were seen to be more important by people than the economic gains. This is indeed true of my experience in Kenya.
Sport was my way into these communities. Having Identified that I wanted to help disadvantaged young women was one thing, getting the aid directly to these girls was another. They are a valuable resource providing free labour and no community will give them ‘time out’ easily.
Sport provided the answer on so many levels, it has no language or social barriers and is respected worldwide, this enabled me to build up the trust I needed for families to allow their kids to train at a lacrosse camp. This has led to successful relationships being built up between schools, communities and Kenya Lacrosse facilitating expansion across Western Kenya. We also been able to expand the programme to include boys.
So why sport?
Because we are now directly assisting hundreds of young people across Kenya. 100% of our aid goes directly to the young athlete’s in our camps including water, food and basic necessities.
Because we are giving these kids hope not only in representing their country at international level, but pride in being part of an Olympic dream.
But most importantly, because we are empowering these young athlete’s of the future to learn new life skills to gain self-respect and the respect of their communities to enable them to realise their potential.
When you look at it that way, the question isn’t really about why, it’s really a question of why not?
You don’t have to love sport you just have to care about people. Luckily for me I have a passion for both.