Football: Mid City Soccer Academy Uses Nutrition To Make Kids Love Sport: Standard Sport

The Mid City girls’ soccer team feeds after a game at De-Paul Center.[Wilberforce Okwiri,Standard]

Imagine being rewarded with a balanced diet when you play soccer! It sounds strange, but this is the story of Mid City Soccer Academy located at De Paul Center in Karen, Nairobi.

The academy uses an effective nutrition program to make children love sports.

Most of the players come from disadvantaged backgrounds who have little or nothing to eat at home.

“I started the academy two years ago with players from the Lucky Summer field. The goal was to give back to society,” said Anette Mbuvi.

The number increased when Mbuvi introduced a weekly feeding program where players are given a balanced diet including porridge, meat, eggs, bananas, beans and more after exercises.

The children quickly went to spread the “gospel” to their friends. Soon the numbers swelled.

The academy now has 60 players from the slums of Kayole, Kibera, Kuwinda and Lucky Summer.

“I realized that children could miss weekly workouts because of feeling hungry. So I introduced the food, and thanks to the sumptuous nutrition program, they don’t miss training anymore. Attendance is now almost 100 percent every week, ”Mbuvi said.

Line-up of the Mid City Under-11 football team at De-Paul Center.:[Wilberforce Okwiri,Standard]

Children who live nearby train on Thursdays and Fridays between 4:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at the center which has been donated free of charge by the nearby Catholic Church.

Players who stay away attend either the 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. schedule or the 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. sessions on Saturdays and Sundays.

“I don’t miss the sessions anymore, I also like the food cooked for us, especially the rice,” admitted Angel Wamaitha, who plays for the U-13 girls.

“Today (last Sunday) we were taught to take passing passes and shoot effectively,” added Elementary School student Standard Seven Karen C.

Academy head coach David Vijago said their training focused on physical and mental health and social fiber has helped children avoid rampant crime and drug addiction in the slums.

“In physical shape, they are endowed with healthy lifestyles to stay in shape,” said Robert Kamwara, whose son Cruz plays in the U-11 boys. Mentally, players are helped to cope with trauma at home, including poverty, drugs, crime and Covid -19 stress. They are helped to think and focus on their future.

“On the social level, the academy promotes fraternity because boys can play and mingle freely with girls.

“Additionally, slum children can interact with their wealthy neighborhood counterparts who have now joined the academy as part of the self-sponsored program,” says Kamwara.

“We have helped self-sponsored gamers be active by avoiding sedentary lifestyles like playing endless video and PlayStation games and spending unnecessary time chatting on social media,” said Vijago.

“We have grown exponentially as our U17s have so far produced two players who have signed for the Kenya Soccer Federation National Super League teams, Kibera Black Stars and Kibera Soccer this season.

Emmanuel Otieno of Mid City with ball tackled by James Karani of Fusion FC playing at De-Paul Center stadium.[Wilberforce Okwiri,Standard]

Vijago explains that funds from self-sponsored players, almost equal in number to those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are used to fund the centre’s nutrition program.

The academy is set to participate in its very first tournament in December this year, to which away opponents have been invited.

So far, Mid City have competed in three championships with their U-13 boys winning the Cheza Sports Tournament in 2019 and the UFA Cup in July this year.

The U-13 and U-17 categories are also expected to travel to the Netherlands next year for the TVG Sports Easter Open Tournament scheduled for April.

Mid City has partnered with several schools where talented players now benefit from full scholarships.

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