THE SOCCER ACADEMY
The Balamu Football Academy is based in the rural area of Wasswa village. Our goal is to use skill development with the youths from five to seventeen years of age to earn equal opportunities as their city counterparts. We strive to inspire talents and skills among the youth through soccer and sports, allowing them to discover themselves and use their talents to get ahead in life.
In March 2016, we took a group of scouts for zip lining. We passed through Wasswa village and decided to do an activity to unite our scouts with the local community. During a football game between the scouts and the local kids, the local kids beat the scouts 3-0. We then realized these kids have talent but no opportunity to develop their skills. This is how our program began.
The Football Academy contains 2 major elements:
- Talents and Skills – We begin training the children as early as 5 years of age. Through football, these kids are able to learn many things. Over the last few years, we noticed that the kids who have been part of the program have developed social skills, responsibility, and have gained self-esteem. They are so much more confident in themselves now that they have an opportunity to make their life something more. Our program teaches kids how to manage their time and become young professionals with a sense of gratitude.
- Education – Wasswa village is a very isolated community nestled in the Mabira Rain Forest. The children growing up there have less access to education. Even those that go to Primary School, don’t typically carry on to secondary education. The majority of the community is very poor and find it difficult to raise the money needed for school fees and therefore cannot send their child to school at all. If a family is struggling to afford food, there is no hope that their children will get an education.
We began our program to fill the need of sports activities for both the boys and girls of Wasswa. We provide the coaches and equipment, the children just need to show up.
The end goal of our program is to put as many children in school as possible. If they are committed to developing their skills and continue improving, they have the opportunity to earn a sports bursary to go to school in the city. These bursaries waive all school and boarding fees. By playing football, they are getting to earn their education as well.
In one year, we have had 7 children be offered bursaries. 5 boys and 2 girls are now getting to go to school in the city and continue improving their football skills.
Additionally, this year another 5 boys and 1 girl have been scouted and will be obtaining bursaries to begin school next term,currently we have 26 kids both boys and girls who have secure scholarship in our shortest period we have been in operation.
According to our culture here in Uganda, girls are not allowed to play football. Especially in the rural areas, where the cultural norms are very strong and hard to challenge. It was a big victory for us to get girls involved in our program and have their families support their playing and opportunity to further their education.