The British Council, together with partners in the UK and Kenya, is initiating a new and innovative football-based programme in Kenya to address gender-based violence with young people. As part of the Premier Skills programme and alongside the community coach education training programme, the Premier League and the British Council have developed the ‘Inspired by Kicks’model which will be adapted to specifically address violence against women and girls.The British Council will test the approach through piloting and developing the programme in Kenya, initially in the Mount Elgon region of Western Kenya and roll-out to a further two locations in another region by building in learning from the pilot, provide evidence of impact and assess the potential for replication in other countries. This 3 year programme is funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) - with a contribution from the British Council. Kenyan partners for the pilot project include the County Government of Bungoma, UN Women, ACORD, Moving the Goalposts Kilifi, Football Kenya Federation and ACF Leopards.  

Over the 3 years, the programme will build the capacity of 96 local community coaches to deliver locally owned and led football sessions to children and young people between the ages of 10 – 18 years of age in an on-going bases. These football sessions will provide the platform to sensitise approximately 3000 participating children and young people on issues around violence against women and girls. This will be achieved through the delivery of regular, inclusive football sessions with an emphasis on values and behaviour-led activities alongside an awareness-raising curriculum around the prevention of violence against women and girls. The programme will utilise community festivals and a targeted advocacy campaign to sensitise the larger community in the two regions. 

VAWG Programme experiences to date

Jacklyn Mwetuny runs with the ball, evades a tackle from David Koskei, before passing the ball to a 10 year old boy from the local Kindu Roman Catholic primary school, in Kisumu. The chatter and laughter that fills the air is a clear indication the teams competing against each other are enjoying themselves. This is no ordinary football match- but training for community coaches from Mt Elgon region who are in Kisumu for a refresher course on the British Council Addressing Violence Against Women and Girls Through Football programme. 

It’s been seven months since this group of 47 male and female coaches from Mt Elgon region in Bungoma County have been working together to integrate a bespoke curriculum on violence against women and girls into regular football sessions for girls and boys between the ages of 10 and 20. In that time, these coaches have gained valuable skills in working with young people to explore attitudes towards gender and develop skills around teamwork, fair play, self-confidence and respect.  One of the coaches, Jacklyn Mwetuny says:

“When the programme began in Mount Elgon, boys would harass, intimidate and even bully girls when they first met in groups.  But we have now noticed boys no longer bully the girls, and there is a sense of respect for the girls.  As for the girls, they have become more aware of their rights and are more empowered and are beginning to even influence their parents by insisting it’s dangerous to be sent on errands after nightfall for their safety.”

In the group of coaches training at Lions Hill High School, are two coaches, David Sichei and Leonard Kiboi, who were part of a team from Kisumu and Mt Elgon which recently travelled to the UK on a study visit to learn more about the UK’s expertise in using football for community engagement and to meet UK organisations campaigning to end violence against women and girls.  The trip, which included a visit to Aston Villa in Birmingham as well as visits to fellow Premier League clubs Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion, was an opportunity for the group to share experiences with UK partners and bring back ideas and inspiration for new approaches to use in the Kenya programme.

“ We visited an academy for children who have dropped out school which is run by West Bromwich Albion football club, which brings together these young ones and instils in them the value of going back to school. This is a programme which is inclusive and has children from diverse backgrounds. This was an important learning on what we could also achieve for communities in Mt Elgon,’’ David says.

For the past two weeks, coaches delivering the Mount Elgon programme and another 48 new coaches from Kisumu have been receiving training from Premier League Head Coach Paul Hughes and Michael Wynter from Villa in the Community –the official charity of Premier League club Aston Villa. Ravinder Masih, Director of Villa in the Community says they are excited to be partnering with the British Council, the Premier League and DFID on this important initiative.

“Our aim is to parallel the community work we do in Birmingham by inspiring change in communities internationally. We have achieved great success in addressing social issues and in creating opportunities for women and girls through our PL Kicks programme.”