Ivan Kakembo (IK) founder of Uganda Youth Soccer Academy makes a point of promoting his home country’s football talents whenever the opportunity arises. When he was invited to address the third UK Ugandan Convention Trade & Investment Expo in London, Sept 2013, he met up with NCFA’s Ernie Brennan to discuss the importance of the International Children’s Football Alliance and how it helped UYSA obtain much needed support.
NCFA. Can you tell the ICFA members what developments have been made at UYSA in the last year?
IK. In the last year, I was appointed Vice President of the Ugandan Football Association, a role I am very proud to perform. I was very pleased to be appointed and I consider it an honour to be a part of a Football Association that thrives to do some good in the community as well as on the International stage.
NCFA. What was your address about at the Expo?
IK. It was about volunteering to play for the Uganda National Teams in different sports in different Championships, to market Uganda to the out side World. It was all about inviting different sports’ personalities to Uganda to volunteer in training sports coaches, youth sports talents and to help Uganda raise its world rankings in different areas of sport. Most importantly it was about identifying possible investors in the sports facilities in Uganda.
I firmly believe that good Ugandan role models like 25 year old, Heny Kalyungi, Ugandan International Defender, playing for Richmond Kickers in the USA, can promote our country and the good work we do at all levels in sport.
Ugandan children look-up to Swedish born Uganda International Martin Mutumba. They hear about a young man playing for their country and they want to be like him. Martin, Nationalized his Ugandan citizenship and he is currently helping Uganda qualify for African cup of nations in the World Cup where we haven’t qualified for the last 37 years.
NCFA. Are there other projects UYSA engage in?
All donations can be made online to: http://uysoccer.org/
INTERVIEW WITH IVAN KAKEMBO
Uganda Youth Soccer Academy was founded in October 2007 by a group of visionary young people in Uganda with a holistic vision to Empower the Youth, Girls and Women living in Urban Slums of Kampala Uganda Using Soccer. Geographically Uganda Youth Soccer Academy is currently operating in slum in Kampala Districts. Ivan Kakembo works tirelessly to provide safe fun environments for children and young people to play soccer.
Can you tell the National Children’s Football Alliance (NCFA) members about the kind of work Uganda Youth Soccer Academy (UYSA) do?
Uganda Youth Soccer Academy is a Non-profit Sports Organisation established in the Uganda in October ,2007 www.uysoccer.org to give hope and Education to slum and street children, Fighting Malaria, support Orphaned children born and affected by HIV/AIDS, Disabled children in urban slums, advocating for Children Rights and improved health and sanitation in Slums of Uganda through Sports.
What are the major problems that UYSA has to face?
Without question the major problem is gathering the resources to help the children who live on the street and in the slums. There are forgotten by authorities and never sufficient donations to take care of all the needs. The larger picture is giving the children a voice through education and sports. We are always seeking sponsor families that will provide the child the way to obtain an education. Volunteers, whether they work within the Academy or with the local communities, college people volunteering from abroad to spend months working with the children or volunteers who give their time from home, through fund raising, spreading the word, all are important. Trained teachers in schools and coaches at the Academy teach the children in many areas of life skills.
Who are the children that participate in UYSA football activities?
Orphaned children from Ugandan Urban slums and streets who have lost mostly both their parents through HIV/AIDS, kids escaping from civil wars in northern Uganda living in the streets with a poor future, no education, no meals and no one to care for them and are looking for hope and a brighter future through sports
Can you tell us what inspires you to carry out your work?
We , couldn’t stand seeing many suffering children in the streets and slums. without an education, lost their parents and have no one to care for them. Many have only 1 meal in a day. Water is not clean. Many children don’t live beyond their 5th birthday, many dying from malaria without any medical attention. If you have any heart you need to take action.
Who are the biggest supporters of the UYSA?
Our biggest supporters are the families in several countries that have sponsored a child and their continuing donations. Those generous donors and sympathiser who have contributed to our appeals in the past.
How successful is the Empowering Girls and Women in Urban Slums project?
We have succeeded in involving more girls in education programs as this is the best way to empower them. Increasing their involvement in sports fights traditional beliefs.Educating young girls fights ignorance against social problem such as rape, prostitution etc.
Can you tell us how the sponsored children scheme works and why there is a need to support the scheme?
Imagine, a child lives in the street or slum, with a piece of plastic to cover themselves, one meal a day, no school and poor future with no one to believe in them, next day with your help, the child can find themselves on a new mattress, on a warm bed, in a secure and caring environment in a good boarding school, with new clothes/uniforms, 3 meals a day and good education, new identity, new foster family and a new sponsor family, and a new future , not commercial and 100% transparent!You will meet your child several times on Skype; get contact details to the School, and Foster family, copy of school records and invoices if requested.
Our website www.uysoccer.org contains a page that gives photos together with information about each child seeking a sponsor family. Our Social Worker seeks a foster family who is responsible for the child on school holidays and when school is not in session. All our foster families are screened and certified by the local Council Authorities.
We have 4 coaches at the Academy who provide physical education for the boys and girls, soccer training is encouraged and participation in sports encourages life giving skills in decision making, leadership, sharing and getting along with others. Health education carries important emphasis for both boys and girls. Girls are encouraged to continue their education to a college level or to seek vocational studies. Young men who show specific talent in soccer may be recruited by college coaches to further their studies and enjoy a soccer career.
What are the problems women and girls face playing football in Uganda?
Despite their proven sports potential in Uganda Today , many are uneducated, child bride, targeted as sex workers, raped and exposed to HIV/AIDS, girls and Women in Urban Slums have turned to fetching water and wood rather than learning to read and write and get involved in Sports and many Girls bear children while they are still children themselves and this limits their participation in sports.
UYSA was started by a group of young people. How did you manage to achieve funding at the early stages?
Our charity activities are funded by Child sponsor families,kind hearted people responding to our fund raising appeals and from our personal resources.
It is clear that UYSA and NCFA share similar values concerning football for all. How does UYSA educate parents, teachers and volunteers about why playing football is important to childhood?
Our message is ongoing; through our communication with our monthly newsletter, our website, hundreds of posts on several social networks that are seen by thousands of people. Our sponsors and volunteers are found in many countries and through them, the goal of the Academy is spread.
How important is it that the world of soccer acknowledges children who play the game outside of the radar of the professional game?
Any parent who has a child who plays soccer sees their child having fun and is exercising . For the older children in upper grades many companies acknowledge the ‘local’ soccer team when they sponsor a team with uniforms to support the team. In additional to the obvious benefits of being on a soccer team pairs with their scholastic achievements and provides for a well rounded educational experience.
As the sport becomes more and more popular with a wider audience, higher parental attendance, it is fast becoming the 4th most popular sport in the back of football, baseball and basketball.
Children in many cultures struggle to retain their birth right to play football, how does UYSA address this issue in the corridors of power?
With an ever-changing world, today’s children have been exposed to most every country and its cultures through television, radio, cinema and social networks.
In the Year 2011, I am not comfortable in agreeing that children are struggling to accept to play football is their birth right. Yes, we sometimes think of certain sports being the traditional sport for that country. For example, Golf with Scotland, Baseball with the United States or Japan, Bocce’ ball perhaps, with Italy.
Today’s children, for the most part, have a bigger view of the world and all that it offers, even in sports.
In your opinion is there scope for an International Children’s Football Alliance that could represent children on a global platform? An organisation that supports the world’s extended children’s football family and reinforces all the good work being done by organisations such as yourself.
Is there a UYSA project that you would like to tell our readers about and how they might like to support the good work being done?
We have very big priority to fundraise mosquito nets to save the live of children dying in Ugandan slums before their 5th Birthday and by donating a mosquito net can 99% save the live of this child
The goal of the Academy is to bring help to the hundreds of orphans wandering without a home, clean clothes, drinking unsanitary water in Uganda. They have no happiness in their lives. To give them a day of smiles and fun we are about to launch our Christmas fund-raising project, “ UYSA Christmas for the Kids”. So many of these children have never got a chance to celebrate Christmas,have never hard about santa claus and we would like to make this a dream come true to the children
When I am at the soccer field the young children always surround me and ask “When If they have got a Sponsor Family”. We are always seeking people who have big hearts to help give one of the children a new start. They are eager to go to school and learn to read and write. If we could have one family sponsor a child every day would bring happiness to so many. This is our on-going project, we are active on Facebook inviting people to our website to see the children. Our co-Founder, Henry Kalungi is a professional soccer player and in his many travels he spreads the word about the UYSA. Another project upcoming will be assistance for the Medical fund. Many children fall sick from bad water, and un- sanitary living conditions, currently the Academy covers medical costs. A established fund to cover hospital and doctor bills would be of great assistance to the Academy.
All donations can be made online to: