Sports at Kilimanjaro

Sports and especially soccer inspires people in Tanzania as well. In almost every village and school you find a soccer field. But they also like to play basketball and netball just as passionately.

The condition of the grounds and sports facilities is bad almost everywhere, there are only a few qualified sports teachers or trainers and there are no structures for organized championships, especially in rural areas. RAFIKI e.V. has supported sports at schools for many years as well as sports outside of school.

Outstanding projects in this context are the girls’ soccer and the formation of a girls’ rugby team which has been continually promoted, not only by our volunteers from Germany but also thanks to the commitment of our Tanzanian colleague Rehema Msella (KIUMAKO). The highlight of our cooperation was a friendly match between female students from KIUMAKO and KIUMO and the women’s soccer team of VfL Kellinhusen in July 2013 at the pitch of the Mwika Primary School.

Girls in sports pants and the RAFIKI Championship

Oliver Zantow

In 2004 we organized a teachers’ training with teachers of KIUMO in the morning. In the afternoon we had suggested to the trainees to do sports. To split the groups we asked who would like to play volleyball: All of the girls raised their hands. And who would like to play soccer: Obviously all of the boys. Some rare ones were interested in badminton.

Then we asked the girls if some of them wanted to play soccer: Big eyes, questioning glances – and silence. Well: “Those who wish can come to the soccer pitch!” If there would be some girls we would just play alternating one day with girls and one with boys.

Lo and behold, at the appointed time there were some interested girls. Thus we played soccer with them- normal training with a concluding match. That caused some jeering from the lurking boys and some stupid comments “because girls have no place on the soccer pitch”. Not even when they wore a skirt above their pants. Most of them played barefoot or with flip-flops because hardly any girl owned sturdy shoes, let alone sports shoes.

At the end of our two-week workshop two boys teams and also two girls teams played against each other – in each case the first against the second training year. The match of the girls became a social event: Hundreds of people bordered the soccer pitch and they didn’t want to miss the match.

This was basically the starting signal for the RAFIKI sports promotion. We brought tricots, pants and football socks for the still enthusiastically soccer playing girls the next time we went to Tanzania. The sports teacher of KIUMO James Mmbando plays soccer with trainees– boys and girls – ever since and from time to time there are matches against other schools.

Now we wanted to see the girls play in the new tricots. After that the boys wanted to play, then two men’s teams.

One must say to this that it gets dark everyday at around 7 pm. Really dark and on time every day. That means that a tight schedule was required – which is already contrary to the time management in Tanzania. However this is the reason why all of the people bordering the pitch got more and more nervous as the girls didn’t get out of their dressing rooms – classrooms of a neighbouring school. The reason: They didn’t dare to go in public with short pants. But after some friendly persuasion they took off to the field. The jeering on the pitch was enormous. But the first girls’ match in sports clothes took place.

We bring equipment from time to time ever since and girls play with the same matter of course as boys.

To strengthen the role of the woman in society and to improve the self-consciousness of girls in the region, we will continue to support women’s soccer.

In men’s soccer we met a completely different phenomenon: The boys are bursting with passion whenever they see a ball in front of their feet. Every village has a soccer team, at least many soccer fans. We support the soccer friends at Kilimanjaro by covering the costs for hosting the matches.

The organization is by now task of the trainer of Kirimeni, Wilbert Nyela.

The girls’ soccer has been established. Today it’s not a social event at all anymore when girls play soccer; it has become a positive part of normality. We support this with regular sports clubs at KIUAKO and this was boosted by the visit of the women’s team of VfL Kellinghusen.

Medium-term we plan to expand the sports promotion even more. Many schools have no sports lessons at all because there’s no appropriate equipment and the teachers don’t know about didactic approaches or rules of games. We want to set trends at KIUMAKO and we hope that popular sports can be strengthened in the district Moshi via workshops