The annual football camp at Rosslyn had finally arrived!! After months of advertising, preparations and prayer, we were all assembled on Aug 1 at 7:45 a.m at Rosslyn Academy in the chilly morning, ready to face the week ahead. We had saved our energy for it and with everybody allocated their duties the week before, all we had to do was our devotion and set up the field. We were more than prepared to love on the kids as we were to communicate our camp theme: Faith Made Known.
The first assembly had more to do with us getting to know the 67 kids and them getting to know us in a more interesting way other than our names. After the introductions were done, we divided them into their respective age groups and genders. Our coaches were ready, let the camp begin!
As the week unfolded, we taught the 5-14 year olds some football skills, how to play fairly and most importantly, the word of God during our “Bible time.” We played some fun games during the course of the day with help from our games masters. Through this we saw laughter and friendships being built. It turned into a fun filled competition between two created groups – the White Rhinos and the Blue Elephants as each tried to out-cheer the other in the group chants knowing that for each victory, points were awarded. With the white rhinos having won the title last year, they were looking to defend it whilst the blue elephants came attacking strong. For each day there were different themes which included bead hair day and jersey day and so much more! To be honest, all the events that happened and the joy it brought can’t be expressed enough in this blog!
Also, and more importantly was the emphasis we made for the kids to memorise this years theme and bible verse from Hebrews 12:1-3. It was incredible seeing them memorise and get it better day after day. By Friday, quite a large percentage knew the verse and what it meant to make our faith made known, and we thank God.
From them having a shy start to playing scavenger hunts and marshmallow tosses using great team spirit, we saw the Lord work through the camp to bring joy, laughter, new friendships, new relationships with parents, new donations and being assured that the work was not in vain. The last day was full of cheers from the two teams to see who could snatch the win. The white rhinos emerged victorious and danced with joy as the blue elephants applauded them for their win. We also had an opportunity to advertise the club that runs every Saturday and encouraged the parents to join and partner with us. We were grateful to see some parents who were around during the entire camp to help out where they saw need. It was also amazing to see parents coming in on the closing ceremony to show their support to the children as they were awarded in different categories.
Hebrews 12:1-3 “Therefore since we have been surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary or lose heart.”
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After much planning and prayer, the three and a half week tournament in Madogo town, Garissa County kicked off on August 15 with a total of 16 full teams participating. With a population of approximately 21,000 people, this was our opportunity as Ambassadors Football to ensure that the lives of the people and the community as a whole was transformed through football outreach. The aim of the tournament was to promote peace amongst the youth by bringing them together to watch and participate. We also looked to build and establish good relationships with the residents so that we could provide ways for continuous mission work.
Garissa, known for its hot weather and scarce population, is located in the North-eastern part of Kenya and is about 367 Kilometres from the capital Nairobi. Because of the dry land, the market is dominated by livestock trading by the Cushites which is their main source of income.
As the days progressed, we were greatly encouraged by the good responses that we got. Each game brought excitement and joy to men, women and children who came in large numbers to support their teams. The football talent was recognizable. One of the greatest encouragements came when one of us met some of the players he had coached years back. From being idle, they had grown into leadership roles which they used to support others their community. Among them were soldiers, people working with NGO’s and an Administration Police. The joy couldn’t be hidden!
On the 7th of September, the finals were played. The field was crowded with football fans all who wanted to be a part of the game. The evening was full of excitement and anxiety as chances were missed and skills were show cased. With the game ending in a deadlock of no goals, it had to be decided with a penalty shootout. Something every player dreads. The last shot saw the ball go over the post, giving victory to Rangers F.C. Almost immediately the atmosphere was full of shouts and hoots from motorbikes as the winning team was joined with its fans in celebrating.
The closing ceremony saw the winning team rewarded with jerseys, footballs, equipment and a massive trophy amidst cheers. Apart from the joy of the moment, we were greatly encouraged by the impact and transformation that we saw and are looking forward to having a bigger tournament next year.
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The tournament had been in the calendar for months and we were all looking forward to it. On the 15th of August 2016 at 2:00pm we entered the Athi River prison and found the intimates ready and waiting for us to arrive. They were excited to see us and they recognized some of our coaches who had been there before.
It was a seven-a-side tournament which had 8 teams, our own Ambassadors Football being one of them. We started by gathering together to do an introduction and then Richard shared the story of Joseph. He shared about forgiving one another and knowing that God has shown his love for us and forgiven us through His son, Jesus Christ. The games kicked off on a high note as the Ambassadors team made an impressive start by scoring four goals in the opening match. The other teams played and after two and a half hours we had all but four matches remaining in the group stages the following day.
Day two was tense with waiting as all were eager to see who would be qualifying for the semi-finals and then to the finals, where the champions would be crowned!
The teams were ready by the time we arrived on the second day and immediately the matches started. Our team got to the semi finals and it was a heated match with spectators encouraging and jeering all those on the playing field. While the games started quite hot, the day progressed in a peaceful and fun atmosphere for players and spectators alike.
The final was played between Juventus (a team of inmates) and the staff. It was a tightly contested match that ended in a nil- nil draw forcing a penalty shoot-out. After a few shooters the staff missed leaving Juventus the moment they waited for … and their captain did not miss. It was a fine shot into the corner, past the keeper, that sealed their win!
After the winner was decided, amid great cheering, we started our award ceremony. We were blessed to be able to leave the inmates two sets of jerseys and present the winning team with a trophy. After that we had a vote of thanks and Richard, our guest from Northern Ireland, shared about the message of Jesus Christ.
After the ceremony we said our good byes and left with thanksgiving to God for a successful tournament! We look forward to continuing to partner with Athi River Prison in order encourage the inmates as they serve out their term.
The mission Africa team was again with us and we had organized an outreach at Canini Beehive where we met 40 orphans. We had planned to go be with children for at least two days. We left on Tuesday 12th and arrived there at around 6:30 pm. We were received by the lady in charge called Njeri who later took us to the school where the children were doing their personal evening studies after supper.
They received us with a song and our team sang to them and later we had orientation. We left the children and went for the supper as well as to prepare for the following day.
The first day at Canini was good,
We started with a devotion as a team and later joined Anna the woman who takes care of the farm. We helped her to uproot and gather beans which. She later took us around the farm and places where the staff stay. We later went to check on field where we will be having games with the children that afternoon. We went and cleared the field. She also took us in the hills but we didn’t hike that day because the time was far spent.
We went back and took lunch with children and at around 2pm we went to the field where we did and assembly and introduced ourselves once more. It was good for the children meeting some of the coaches who they had met before such as Adan and Masha.
During the assembly we had Matthew narrate Joseph’s story and we also asked the children questions which they answered well. We encouraged them on forgiving each other.
The games started off well with some of their teachers coming along and joining us. The headmistress was quite involving and though she was old she challenged most of us. She was more energetic and entertaining.
We played football with children and they all enjoyed. After that we released them to go prepare for the following day and take supper.
It kicked off well with a devotion and after that we joined Anna who was clearing the farm in preparation for planting. We later went with her to the forest where she goes to fetch firewood. We helped her gather enough firewood for two days. It was fun.
After that we took lunch with children and later went to play football with them. We divided ourselves into four teams which played matches and the winning team was to receive something.
Every coach had a team and the teachers had joined us too which was a good thing.
We gathered for an assembly where we did the story of Joseph and acted and the children did the same. We as well talked to them about plan of God and Adan had an engaging question and answer with them and whoever got the story right was given sweets.
The team that won was given sweets and we all appreciated being with them.
After the matches and awarding the winners we released the kids and also the coaches who needed to go back home. Later we joined the kids in their dormitories where we had an engaging talk about Kenya and had some icebreakers. We met one of the children, Vanessa who had knowledge of a lot of things and she gave us a historical background of different tribes. She also told the Mission Africa team more about Kenya and Africa and some of the places that they should visit.
We released them to go take meals and the evening studies as we wanted to go prepare for the following day activities.
The following day we were to go out to Athi River Prison but before then Anna had promised to take us to see animals such as Wild beasts, zebras and antelopes in the plains of Lukenya Hills. She took us there and we were able to see the animals.
The following day Canini beehive children joined us in the morning for a hike at Lukenya hills which was a challenge to some of us but for them it was just a walk since they have been taking visitors there. It was an awesome experience with them. We later left them and headed back to Athi River prison for the day two with inmates where Ambassadors football had organized a tournament for them.
Leaving Canini was emotional seeing children come ask us if we were going back to be with them again and saying that they will miss us.
We bless God for such a wonderful disciplined people that they are.
The team left on 5th July early in the morning heading to Oyugis for the awaited Kisumu Warm up camp. The team had eight members, Four from Ambassadors football namely Stephen, Nicholas, Duncan and Josephine and our visitors from Mission Africa, Rachel, Ellen, Richard and Matthew. They were picked in different places from imara Daima all the way to Kikuyu where we picked the visiting team. We later headed to Oyugis where the camp was to take place. The journey was long but quite good going enjoying the beauty of creation such as the great rift valley. We stopped by at three points. Mai Mahiu where there is the great rift valley Viewpoint as well as Narok town where we did our shopping. We later stopped at Bomet county where we took our lunch and continued with the journey.
In the van we got to interact as we prepared ourselves on how we were going to minister to the children. We were doing the story of Joseph which was a challenge to most of us but we finally got it and we’re able to narrate the whole of it.
We finally arrived at the Gideon’s where we were highly received with songs and greater joy by the children and the staff members. It was quite a surprise for all of us.
We had an orientation and got to know the staff members and later interacted with the kids getting to know them that evening. It was a wonderful for them as well as for us.
The first day was awesome. We started with a devotion and after breakfast we went to the field where we met 35 football players. We also did a devotion with them, Mathew narrated the story of Joseph and the rest of the members acted it which made it more interesting for the children.
The warmup started with dribbling and learning football skills with a break where the players got to sit down with coaches and discussed the story of Joseph in details and back to the field.
After that the warm up camp continued until 4:30 pm when the coaches and players went to take a rest in preparation for the evening program as well as the following day activity.
The evening was well spent as we had a chance to go for a worship experience with the Children in a church that is within the compound. It was wonderful seeing these small children worship and dance when praising time came. Though most of us didn’t understand the language we enjoyed dancing with them.
Day two kicked off well with a devotion with the team and afterward an assembly with all the children at Church where we did the story of Joseph again and acted it out. We also had the children act it out and they did it well.
We later headed to the field where we had the teams warm up and then football skills. We later had discussions with the players on real life stories where the coaches shared with the players that they were training. The teams went back to the field and continued with football skills and dribbling in preparation for two matches which were to take place that evening.
After Lunch the players and coaches rested from football but few coaches went around with Sophie who is the director of Awaken love for Africa. She showed us around and the different projects they have which help in bringing income and food for running the home.
In the evening the team opened up for the matches which started off well with the under thirteen boys playing with the girls team. The match was exciting. The boys defeated girls with two nil. Immediately after that the coaches played with the the under 18yrs boys and they defeated coaches which made the game more exciting.
That evening after supper the Gideon’s invited us to go for a bonfire with them and the children in the field where we all enjoyed singing and dancing.
The following day Ambassadors football team and Mission Africa was leaving for the city where they had other programs. It was a goodbye moment for us as well as children and staff. It was such an emotional moment but we promised to go back in December and spend more time with them.
The journey back was good having bonded more than we went. It was a long. We stopped for Lunch in Narok where the Mission Africa team enjoyed eating Nyama Choma and Ugali with the Ambassadors Football team.
Having had such a success, we can only give God all the glory because it all due to HIM alone.
We were excited to be hosting a two day tournament at Naivasha after keeping it in prayer and preparation. The prison accommodates nearly 3,000 inmates and so we had a big audience to reach out to! We arrived on July 21st, early in the morning to be able to open the much awaited tournament. To our surprise though, we found the teams already in the field playing!
What stood out however, was the fact that the prison had established their own professional teams which were created on the basis of the blocks they were in. After inquiring, we were informed that they have their own season during the year and that they even have a transfer window in January to buy players!
The prison had 6 main teams i.e, Arsenal, Dragon FC, Celtic, Chelsea, Barcelona and Mgonjwa F.C (Olympiakos) which competitively played for the cup amid cheers from the many football fans who crowded the stadium.
Due to the prisons’ strict observance of time, we did not get time to share the gospel on the first day. On the second day, it was the first item on our agenda. After being able to make the large number sit down, Matthew who was among those who joined us from Northern Ireland for the outreaches that month, and Kyama as his interpreter, told the story of Joseph and how he was able to live through slavery, false accusations and jail to emerge the governor of Egypt, all according to God’s plan. It was a moment filled with hope and joy as well as the message was delivered.
The last day flowed smoothly and competitively and Celtic went on to win the cup with a hard fought 2-1 victory over their rivals Arsenal in the final. We also introduced 7 aside football which the teams were impressed with and would start playing. We saw God work in those two days as we saw people coming together through football to listen and be impacted by God’s powerful word while they had fun and a new experience out of their daily lives. It was even declared that the prison would play an annual Ambassadors Football tournament!!
It was an amazing two days where we were able to go and show love to the inmates as well as the guards. And what a great feeling it was to see many smiles on many faces.
1 JOHN 4:7 NIV “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”
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