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WASA football tournaments delivering messages of peace

Copyrights: Mariam Mpaata

WASA football tournaments delivering messages of peace

In this interview Mariam Mpaata describes the future aspirations and struggles involved in running the Watoto Africa Soccer Awards.

What is your name and what do you do?

My name is Mariam Mpaata. I actually wear many hats. I am the founder of Junior Stars Youth Development Programme. The programme runs various outfits because as you know young people are interested in many things. You have to be creative to keep up with them. So we run the following programmes: Junior Stars Football Academy, Watoto Africa Soccer Academy, Soccer Divas Club, MMM’s Women Series, and Youth Mentorship forums. Our initiatives focus on using football and mentorship skills to bring together youth and women.

Today however I want to wear the hat of C.E.O at Watoto Africa Soccer Awards (WASA).

Tell us about Watoto Africa Soccer Awards – Mombasa

WASA is arguably the biggest annual football festival coast region has seen in a very long time. Since 2012, WASA has hosted a series of tournaments and Gala Awards bringing together over 60,000 young boys and girls. Youth come from community and schools teams to compete in the prestigious festival because of its organised and fun nature. During the gala ceremonies outstanding players and winning teams are recognised and awarded.

Apart from talent search, we also use WASA to deliver paramount messages, this year for instance our theme was “peace through cultural diversity”. We also use the same platform to mentor youth in various departments like photography, events management, refereeing, commentating and so forth. We also invite football legends to inspire the youth during the festival.

This year we hope to hit the 70,000 mark, by taking the event to two other counties. We want to reach out to Nairobi and Trans Nzioa. We believe that the WASA concept can be replicated in several other areas because as it is football, it is a very popular game. It has been a remarkable project. Last year in December we launched it in Uganda. Our dream is to launch in all East African counties as well as other counties in Kenya.

What do you hope to achieve from this initiative?

There is an urgent need to keep young people busy and away from social evils like drug abuse, crime, radicalisation and early sexual encounters. During WASA, youth are kept busy close to three months.

WASA addresses the lack grassroots football structures for younger players. There is a need to create fun, structured and competitive football programmes for talented young players within the country.

WASA delivers vital messages to youth each year. The WASA 2017 theme is embracing cultural diversity for peaceful co-existence. Through this platform we continue communicate important messages for social development.

There is a need to provide youth with mentorship and job opportunities. Through our various WASA departments not limited to: event management, photography, and video coverage, MCs, journalism and refereeing, young people have been empowered and motivated to pursue that which they are passionate about.

[This article has been edited by the Operating Team.]

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Jamila Hassan

Published

Thursday, June 1, 2017 - 13:57