Football – a powerful unifying tool in slums

KAMPALA, January 3, 2018 – Alfred Obbo, is flying. In his borrowed plastic sandals each on a different sizes and make, and his toned cloth, he feels special. Quite unusual in his condition.

The reason for his mood is the spherical object running between his soiled legs.

His colleagues who are better at the ball are split in teams dressed in blue and red bibs, yet he is happy playing on the fringes of the rough pitch.

It is Match Day 10 of the Slum Cup at Acholi Quarters Banda Zone 1, a suburb in the Ugandan capital Kampala. The event brings together kids in slum communities, who have inherited a perennial cloth of poverty. On this pitch is where their lives let free from the strain and stench of underprivilege. Football is the sole joy and redeemer here. A handful of these kids, have just one ‘improper meal’ a day, yet for many, whose mothers depend on their hard earned penny from stone quarrying, return home without it, which means that their stomachs will too go without.

On match days, there worries are temporarily confined by the beautiful game. The Aliguma Foundation organises such gatherings to nourish livelihood’s undernourished in poverty.

The intiative brings together and offers food and activities for the boys and girls of Kamapala’s slums. (Photo: USPA)

It took convincing from Aliguma Ritah, vice president of the Uganda Sports Press Association, who dedicates her time to social work as well, to commit local leaders to allow the unplayable small-size pitch to host matches. The community tucked away in rocky gravel, was earmarked by the government to resettle victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency who hence formed a forgotten island on land. A people without any government service reaching their doors or households.

The Aliguma foundation is helping many cross the bridge, casting a light in their lives by forming gatherings where food is served, where Bible teaching and the spreading the gospel of reconciliation is offered, counseling, along with HIV/AID testing and counseling, and sports activities.

Among all this, football stands out, for it bonds an entire slum community.

Before them, is a largely unplayable and soggy grassless pitch, the drainage its fringes. Yet at kickoff, the games nourish all such fears. At the sound of the public address system that announces match-days, a gathering envelops the ground. On one matchday, the crowd had an unusual cheer member, Bumbuli Aziz, the amputee footballer. The former great player, gladly accepted the call of the Aliguma foundation to liberate slum football.

“The only unifying fact that brings us together is sports, mostly football, and through this we continue to witness that philosophy of football a tool of peace on a large scale,” says vision -bearer of Slum football, Ritah Aliguma

With the generous support of the organization much funding comes from the beadwork and paintings that are produced by residents and sold both locally and abroad along with donations from friends and well-wishers

The budget is still limited, yet the number of kids is overwhelming. Currently there are almost 200 children in the coaching programme in the slums of Acholi Quatres, with the coaches insisting that many could have a bright (football) future ahead.

there are almost 200 children in the coaching programme in the slums of Acholi Quatres, the home of the tournament. (Photo: USPA)

 

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