Engaging in sports and life skills activities, having fun and a positive way to spend their leisure time, and getting the support to make positive choices is what changes young people’s lives.
It is exactly what we aim for at ISA. And these are the outcomes that appeared from young people’s testimonials, as part of a midterm evaluation in April 2022. Coaches and young people participating in ISA programmes were interviewed about their challenges and what impact they have experienced. These are young people with an average age of 16 years old, living in very poor and disadvantaged communities (78%) in Kenya and Uganda.
Fun is the most essential factor of sports
The most essential benefit of sports reported is having fun because of playing sports and making friends. Many coaches share that youth participants come to training sessions with stress and heavy minds. Sport allows them to process these thoughts and negative energies. 87% of youth reported increased general health and 76% improved mental health due to the sports activities.
A player that participates in the ISA GAME programme through the community organisation Cheza Cheza says: “When I come to Cheza Cheza, I feel better than when I am at home because at home things are not good. So, I feel happy and my mind is relaxed.”
Spending leisure time in a positive way
The sport programmes also keep young people out of trouble. Young people reported that drug abuse and teen pregnancies are common in their communities, and that the sports programme can help them to stay away from that.
As one coach puts it: “We have a boy called Daniel who was using drugs and was always absent from school, until we recruited him. When we included him in our sports activities and a car wash business, Daniel went back to school starting in Form One.”
One of the female players actively looked for alternatives she could join to keep herself safe: “During the COVID-19 lockdown, two of my close friends conceived. So that’s when I decided to look for a programme which will at least boost myself and help me never to get pregnant when I’m at school.”
Getting support to make positive choices
All youth reported being trained on life skills by their coach, like on communication, discipline, respect for diversity, self-esteem and cooperation – at the field or in separate programmes, like one of our partnering community organisations Amani Kibera does. Amani Kibera offers teen girls a club called Teen Talk, where teen girls discuss challenges they experience and promote school attendance and participation.
Sixteen-year-old Harriet needs few words to describe how she now sees her future, because of joining the programmes of Amani Kibera: “My mentor is coach Mariam, she normally encourages me to work extra hard, and to achieve my goals. When I grow up, I want to become the best beautician in this whole world and help my mother. I always try my best to at least make my mother proud.”
With the people around her, Harriet is confident about her future, and she hopes other girls will get opportunities too: “Continue mentoring and empowering girls’ talents, especially in sports, cause sports really matters, and sports takes people far. They have to continue this spirit and help the other girls be like the way I am.”