An interview with Adhiambu Oketch, the first Junior Coach from our Football for Female Empowerment Program.

May 4th, 2010.  An extract from an interview by Coach Graham held with one of the emerging young coaches on the Coaches across Continents programme in Oyugis, Western Kenya, a very small but busy market town, dreadful infrastructure and physical conditions, set in a beautiful hilly, verdant and heavily cultivated landscape.

That landscape is dotted by countless ’shambas’.  Small farmsteads with usually very basic family homes within.  The ones we have been privileged to see and be welcomed into were of mud wall construction, tin roofs, 2 rooms at best, earth floors and no mains electricity, water of sewage connection.  This is basic stuff.  Families are often large but often with a missing parent.  All the family works the shamba in a subsistence agriculture economy/lifestyle.  They eat what they grow, if any excess is harvested it may be sold.  If they don’t work hard, they don’t eat.
The girl I interviewed as part of our program was 15 years old.  Her name is Adhiambu Oketch, and one of the brighter and enthusiastic kids on the scheme.  Both parents are alive but mother ill and generally incapacitated.  She is one of 7 siblings, the eldest married and moved out, her youngest brother is 10 years old.
They live on a shamba and grow Maize, Beans, sorghum (sweet potato), bananas, grapefruit and avocado.  Do not be misled by the list, this is a small scale, manually worked operation on hilly ground with no good road communications.
Before she turned up for her football session today at 9am she had worked the land for 1 1/2 hours, weeding mainly at this time of year (rainy season).  After her 5 hours on our soccer field (in two sessions) she will do another 5 hours on the land.  All her siblings work on the farm too.  After working the land she fetches water from a well, prepares the main meal for the family with her mother.  This is likely to be basic maize based dough called Ugali, or perhaps boiled potatoes and banana… but not sweet like we know it.  Most unlikely to be any meat.  After that she will study her books for school before going to bed with 4 siblings.  Her bed I expect will be rather basic and possibly on the floor judging by our experiences yesterday.  Bed time is around 10 pm, but there were no clocks in the homes we visited yesterday.
She does not take harvest to market…because they eat it all!
When I asked her if she enjoys football, she responded ”yes, too much”.  She plays everyday (barefoot) at her school (which she has to pay fees for ).  The pitch (field) is awful.   I’m not sure where she gets her energy from.  Obesity is not a problem here though!!!!  Gender does not seem to be a barrier to football here, probably just under half of the kids attending are female.
I asked her about her main lessons taken from the programme this past 10 days.  Her first answers were predictably about the football skills they have been working on.  When I asked her about the other messages we seek to put over she responded as follows:
Female Empowerment:
How to control myself (her words), learning to say no and be heard (women do not have a strong voice traditionally in this culture), ”abstinence to avoid the HIV virus” (not really a message CaC focus upon, but they get HIV messages from a wide variety of sources).  She says she ”now knows how to protect herself.”  She loved our Condom Tag game.
Her ambition is to become a caterer, perhaps in a big hotel, and her parents support this aspiration although it may leave them short-handed on the shamba.
About conflict resolution…
‘Patience’ was her main concern, and ”when you want something, to have the confidence to know how to avoid but also control possible conflict.  Communication is the tool for this… if we cant communicate, how can we manage conflict?”
‘I want to help my family and my community.  The past ten days have shown us all so many things about how we can all use football to work with people in our community.  I did not miss a minute on the field and I have learned how to be a coach.  I will miss you all and I will work my hardest to be a great coach.  Asante sana.’
*Adhiambu was part of a group of 27 teenage girls who worked every day at the Coaches across Continents program in Oyugis and received their 30 hour certificates on the final day.  This group of young women were an absloute credit to their community.

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