December 31, 2011

Homa Bay Cultural Festival

In the final Ladies match in the Homa Bay County Cultural Festival, Victoria FC from Kendu Bay and the Suba Lakers from Mbita entertained the fans at Homa Bay Stadium with a very exciting match.  The two rivals locked horns knowing that a win would earn them a 1st place finish because they were playing in a league format.  In case of a draw, Victoria would emerge as the champions due to their superior goal differential they earned when they thrashed Sophia Queens 4-0 in the opening match.  The Suba Lakers had to struggle to a 1-0 win over the same Sophia Queens when Leah Ongojo made a superb individual performance taking the ball from the center line and beating the defenders before she smashed it against the goal post, but with a never say die attitude she circled back to collect the ball again and place it past the goalkeeper and inside the far post for the win. 
Against Victoria, the Suba Lakers started slow and were dominated in the first half though it remained scoreless.  The momentum changed in the second half with the Lakers taking control, but Victoria was the first to score on a rebound shot with 8 minutes remaining.  Undeterred, the Lakers responded within a minute to even the score at 1-1 on a beautiful header by Judith Oketch.  Both teams battled to put one more across the line in the closing minutes, but it remained 1-1.
For their efforts, Victoria was crowned the champs with a trophy and given sh. 15,000 with a promise that sh. 35,000 would be paid later.  The Suba Lakers were given sh. 10,000 with a promise that sh. 20,000 would be paid at a later time. 

Chairman's Cup

In Action at the Nyanza West Branch Chairman's Cup in Rongo the Suba Lakers Girls reached the semifinals by winning all three preliminary matches The first one was a 7 to 0 victory against Migori Women on four goals from Dorothy Adhiambo (hat trick in the first half), and goals from Irine Achieng, Caren Akeyo and Leah Ongojo.  That was followed by a 2-0 win over Kuria Umoja with goals from Achieng and Ongojo.  In the final preliminary immediately before beginning the semifinal, the Suba Lakers defeated Rawofo 1-0 on a goal from Sharon Bismark after a beautiful cross from Liz Wanjere.
The Rongo women's team consisted of several players from Mathare United and the coast.  They also reached the semifinals in impressive fashion by whipping Kuria United 2-0 and Rapedhi 5-0.  In one semifinal Rongo defeated Rawofo from Rangwe 5-0.  In the other semifinal the Suba Lakers struggled to finally get a goal in the closing minutes when Sharon Bismark tapped in a rebound that just barely crossed the goal line before the keeper picked it up.  They totally controlled the game and had so many chances, including a 2nd half penalty kick.  Every ball was just barely missing the goal or was collected by the goalkeeper and it looked like it would end in a draw until Bismark's hard work finally bore fruits in the battle around the goal. 
Playing in their third consecutive match in three different locations, the Lakers battled hard in the first half of the Finals against Rongo and it remained scoreless until injury time when the much more experienced Rongo team fired a hard shot that the Lakers goal keeper wasn't able to handle properly.  In the 2nd half Rongo added several more to pull away in impressive fashion 5-0.
For winning the tournament, Rongo was awarded with sh, 10,000 and the opportunity to represent Nyanza West in the Regional league set to begin in 2012.  The Suba Lakers received sh. 7,000 for finishing in 2nd place and Kuria United received sh. 3,000.  Each of the 8 participating teams was also promised a new set of uniforms in January from the Branch Chairman, Mr. Phillip Owuoti.

December 22, 2011

Semifinals and Finals

In the Ladies semifinals for the Suba Council of Elders Tournament in Sindo, Mfangano defeated Kaksingre 1-0 on a goal that came off of a corner kick from Leah Ongojo.  In the other semifinal Gembe defeated Gwassi 5-0.  After missing numerous 1st half opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net, Gembe capitalized in the 2nd half with 5 goals.  One each from Syprose Akoth, Alicent Awuor and Irine Achieng and 2 goals from Sharon Bismark.
In the finals, Gembe scored a classic goal late in the second half after a corner kick bounced around in the box and Alicent Awuor pounced on it and sent a laser past the flat-footed goalkeeper.  It was the just reward for their domination of the ball possession throughout the game.  The winners received The Senior Chief Damianus Ajwang Memorial Trophy donated by Roseline A. Onyuka.  Unfortunately the set of uniforms that was supposed to go to the winners was given to the boys runners up instead.  Some of the invited guests contributed some cash awards for the young ladies. 
In the entire tournament, every goal that was scored was by a Suba Laker.  Having our players spread out and playing for their home regions led to a very competitive tournament. 

December 21, 2011

Council of Elders

The Suba Council of Elders is sponsoring a tournament at Sindo for the Greater Suba/Mbita.  Teams are competing in Men's and Women's Football, Volleyball and Netball from Mfangano, Rusinga, Gembe, Kaksingri and Gwassi.

Instead of taking the Suba Lakers as a team, we allowed our girls to play for their home regions.  Six of them are playing for Mfangano Island, two others are playing for Kaksingri and our Gembe team is made of entirely of Suba Lakers from around Mbita (some in primary and some in secondary) 
In Girls football, the Gembe region (our team) defeated Mfangano 3-2.  Gembe started strong in the first half on two goals from Irine Achieng.  The first one was on a penalty kick and the second one on a good shot from just inside the box.  At the beginning of the second half, it looked like Gembe would cruise to an easy victory when Sharon Bismark scored to put them up by three goals, but Mfangano would not give up that easy as Leah Ongojo (another Suba Laker) fought hard to pick up two goals to bring them within one.  Though it was too little, too late and the game ended 3-2.  Mfangano came back in their 2nd game defeating Gwassi by a score of 1-0 on a goal by Dorothy Adhiambo (Suba Laker). 
In the final game of the day, Gembe scored an early goal from the smallest player on the field, Teresa Atieno (6th grader), in the 7th minute after a nice pass from Primerose Achieng.  Gembe created numerous chances, but couldn't add to their lead and the game finished with Gembe defeating Gwassi 1-0.  Primerose hasn't played much football over the past couple of years because she is on a basketball scholarship at one of the top secondary schools in Kenya.  So most of her time is spent in basketball.  She is only home for about a week, but was ready to come and play football with us.  It is great to have her back with the team.   
In the semifinals on Thursday, Gembe will face Gwassi while Mfangano will take on Kaksingre. 

December 17, 2011

Finals of the Holiday Classic

The Suba Lakers Holiday Classic Tournament concluded on Friday with very competitive matches in the semifinals and finals. 
In the first semifinal played at Mbita High School Beatrice Robai opened the 1st half with a goal to put Victoria ahead against Kisumu Leeds.  Leeds was able to equalize on a strong shot by Eunice Herald.  In the end Engesa Teresia hit a blazing shot past the keeper to seal the win for Victoria and punch their ticket to the finals.  In the 2nd semifinal, highly favoured Rongo Constituency drew first blood when Jacky Ogol collected the ball outside the box and struck it into the top left corner.  The Hosts Suba Lakers fought hard and were finally rewarded when Judith Mayor headed in a cross from Caren Akeyo to tie it at 1-1.  In the final five minutes Rongo captilized on a goal keeping error to slot home the winner by Christine Avilia. 
In the fifth place match Goretty Girl and Sindo Stars battled hard, but were unable to score in regulation and.  In extra time Goretty girls had a golden opportunity with the ball in the box at in the dying minutes, but failed to capitalize.  Sindo Stars emerged victorious on penalty kicks by a margin of 2-1. 
In the third place playoff, rivals Kisumu Leeds and Suba Lakers played each other for the 2nd straight day.  Previously they had drawn 0-0 in a high intensity battle.  In this game Suba Lakers dominated the first half.  They thought they had scored early on by a free kick, but the celebrations ended prematurely when the ref signaled that it was an indirect kick and gave the ball back to Leeds.  In the second half, Leeds began taking control of the game and their hard work resulted in a goal halfway through the final period by Herald Eunice. 

In the finals, Victoria from Kendu Bay met up with Rongo Constituency.  It was a well-played, entertaining game that thrilled the fans from around Mbita that came out to enjoy quality ladies football.  The Rongo team had several players that just returned from Lesotho where they had played for the National Under 20 team.  Rongo broke through in the 2nd half to defeat Victoria for the 2nd straight day 1-0. 

1st Day of Suba Lakers Holiday Classic

The Suba Lakers Holiday Classic Tournament kicked off on Thursday and will conclude on Friday.  At the beginning, Madam Lillian Ombori shared with all of the participants about the importance of choosing good friends and how negative peer pressure can impact your future.  She used demonstrations to show how good water can be polluted with just a drop of something bad.  It was a very good lesson that kept the players interested. 
In the first match of the day Suba Lakers drew 0-0 in a hotly contested match with Kisumu Leeds United.  In the second match there were fireworks with Rongo Constituency defeating Sindo Stars 6-1.  In the third match the Suba Lakers drew once again with Goretty girls, a young up and coming team from Mbita.  In the 4th match Rongo Constituency continued their winning ways by defeating Victoria Ladies FC from Kendu Bay 2-0 in a very rugged game.  In the 5th game Goretty girls fought hard against Kisumu Leeds United to even the score at 1-1 on a goal by Christine Jael before a late winner from Leeds.  In the final match of the day Victoria Ladies FC defeated Sindo stars 5-0.
So in Pool A, Kisumu Leeds United topped the group with the Suba Lakers coming in second.  In Pool B, Rongo Contstituency topped the group, followed by Victoria Ladies FC.
The semifinals will kick off on Friday morning at 8:00 with Leeds United facing Victoria Ladies, followed by Suba Lakers taking on Rongo Constituency.  The finals will begin by 1:00 pm.    

The teams are playing for these awards:

No.1      Trophy, Ksh. 10,000, t-shirts, one certificate.
No.2      Trophy, Ksh. 7,000, one certificate.

No.3      Trophy, Ksh. 3,000, one certificate.
*All other participating teams will be provided with a certificate for participation

Back from Kitale

The Suba Lakers returned from Kitale on December 13th.  It was a great experience spending 4 days in a new place, meeting new people, hearing new ideas and playing against strong competition.  The players liked the place very much, except for the cold weather.  For young girls that have grown up at sea level on the equator where the temperature is consistent year round, the high elevation "cold" weather was a bit of a shock to their system.  It was hot during the day, but cooled down to around 50 degrees F at night. 

The first two mornings the players participated in group sessions with the girls from other teams where they discussed how to keep their dreams alive.  They shared challenges they face and how to overcome them so they can build a better future.  During the discussion times and even during the nights, the girls formed strong bonds with the other teams from various parts of the country that were there. 

On the field the team couldn't take advantage of their leads to finish off the games.  In the first match we opened with a goal from Dorothy Adhiambo in the first ten minutes and controlled possession against SEP from Oyugis.  Unfortunately we had a let down in the 2nd half and allowed them to equalize, finishing in a 1-1 draw.  On the 2nd day we played the hosts TYSA, a very strong team.  Again we jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a goal from Irine Achieng.  Within a minute TYSA scored to keep the game even.  The 2nd half was back and forth until TYSA scored a second goal to win 2-1.  In the last group game we domintated against KYFA, winning 2-0 on goals from Dorothy Adhiambo and Irine Achieng.  Unfortunately we finished 1 point behind the other two teams and missed out on playing in the finals.

We were thankful for the opportunity to travel to Kitale and make new friends while being exposed to a new area of the country.  

December 8, 2011

Holiday Classic

The Suba Lakers Holiday Classic Girls Football Tournament is still on schedule for 15th and 16th December at Mbita High School.  So far teams from Kisumu, Kendu Bay, Rongo and Sindo have confirmed their participation along with two of our own teams. 

Wasichana Tunaweza

The senior team is leaving today for Kitale to participate in the Wasichana Tunaweza Tournament (Girls, We are Able).  TYSA is hosting the event as they celebrate 10 years of youth football.  The morning times will be filled with encouragement for the girls to stay in school and work hard academically to acheive their dreams.  Guest speakers will be sharing with them and they will also have time for discussions in large groups and small groups.  An ongoing tournament will take place in the afternoons with the finals coming on December 12th.  None of us have ever been to Kitale before so we are excited about the opportunity to see a new place. 

Special Clinic

This week we hosted internationally renowned coach Bob Oyugi in Mbita.  Bob has been one of the main men in Kenyan football for the last 25 years.  He has spent time coaching some of the biggest clubs and national teams and has travelled to every continent of the world attending coaches trainings and conducting clinics and camps.  He has been certified as an trainer of coaches in several countries and is also a representative of the National teams, National Youth Talent Academy and UNICEF.  Even though he has been to every continent and the U.S. over 20 times, he has never been to Mbita before this week.   

Bob worked with 60 of our players during his three days in Mbita and at the same time conducted a coaches training for over 25 local coaches from all over the sub-branch.  He was also assessing our players to see if some of them could be invited to the Under 17 trials in Nairobi next month.  It didn't take him long to see that we have some of the best young girls in the country.  He left Mbita very impressed at what he saw. 

It was a very successful week as the club was able to help the players and all of these local coaches with this opportunity.  We hope that as an ambassador of Kenyan football, Bob will be going back to Nairobi with a good report of what we are doing in Mbita so that other partners may be able to join us in developing girls youth football in the country. 

November 15, 2011

Holiday Classic Girls Tournament

The Suba Lakers will be hosting an open age Holiday Classic girls tournament on 15th and 16th December at Mbita High School.  The purpose of it is to encourage young girls to develop their football talent.  They are expecting 10-16 teams from around the Western Region of Kenya for the two day tournament. 

No.1      Trophy, Ksh. 10,000, t-shirts, one certificate.
No.2      Trophy, Ksh. 7,000, one certificate.
No.3      Trophy, Ksh. 3,000, one certificate.
*All other participating teams will be provided with a certificate for participation.

Top Scorer, MVP and Best Goal-keeper will be given a football jersey and sh. 500. 

For more information, you can contact the numbers listed below. 

Joe Peterson                                                     Paul Onundo
0734 596 606 or 0713 790 430                       0712 767 092 or 0751 008 819

November 13, 2011

National Trials

One of our Suba Laker Girls received an invitation to attend the Under 19 National Ladies Team Trials in Nairobi this weekend.  Caren Akeyo travelled eight hours to reach Kenya's capital city for the first time in her life.  Seventy players from across the country were invited for the tryouts.  The twenty five players selected will represent the country during a tournament in Lesotho which is near South Africa.  The players camped at a very nice hotel called Sabina Country Inn which is where the National Youth Talent Academy is currently calling home.  They conducted the tryouts at Nyayo National Stadium. 

After the first day Coach Florence Adhiambo made cuts and sent twenty players back home.  Caren survived the first cut but wasn't so fortunate on Sunday.  She didn't make the final cut, but the coaches were impressed with her ability and asked her to come back in two weeks for the under 17 tryouts they will be having as they prepare a team to compete in The Netherlands in December.  Caren is only 16, but shined while competing against some of the best players in the country.  


Looking Ahead to Secondary

Our ten Standard 8 students finished their National Exams on Thursday and are now anxiously awaiting their results which will be released at the end of December.  We are hoping and praying that they will do well and have the opportunity to continue their education in secondary school if they pass and God provides the funds for them. 

Four of those students were invited to a secondary school for a tryout this weekend.  Our club chairman, Paul Onundo, and our team manager Eunice Oluwanda, and myself (Joe Peterson) were able to drive Raisha, Alicent, Lydia and Leah to Siaya County to visit Jera Mixed Secondary School.  Jera is a powerhouse in girls football winning the Nyanza Provencial Championship 11 times in the 14 years since the province began competing in girls football.  This past year they won the province again and made it to the National Semifinals with mostly 1st year students before getting defeated by the eventual national champions.  One of their first year students from Jera was one of two girls in the country selected to go for a special training with Manchester United. 

The school was a little bit far from Mbita.  After crossing the ferry, it took us two more hours driving before we reached.  Upon entering the school gate we were greeted by their players who were ready to give us a tour of the school.  It is a medium sized school with around 500 students.  Each grade has three classes of around 50 each which is a good size for a Kenyan school (most have more than that in each class).  The staff and students were very friendly and helpful to all of us.  It seemed like a big family with the way they interacted. 

After the tour, the girls filled out an information sheet and then they were given a uniform to change into.  It was the same uniform that Jera was given when they qualified for Nationals.  The Jera players took the girls through warm-up drills before they started playing. 

Playing in front of all the students and staff of the school, our girls didn't show any nervousness and competed hard, mixed in with the regular Jera players and other girls trying out.  Alicent scored a goal within the first ten minutes and the others also displayed their talents, while playing very good team ball.  They played three halves which gave the coaches enough time to evaluate the players, but tired the players out; especially since the ones trying out have not been training very much over the past few months while they were preparing for their national exams.  Alicent closed the games with the final goal.  After practicing their penalty kicks, they did some stretching and talked in a group for a while.  The program closed with a great meal and speeches by various teachers from the school and the special guests. 

Overall, we were very impressed with the friendliness of the staff and students.  We liked how organized they were.  The school's academic performanceis above average, but they really try to focus on holistic education by helping their students develop their talents and abilities in many areas.  It is obvious their coach really knows football and how to train a football team.  He is an honest man who interacts very positively with the girls.    

Once the results come out in late December they will offer some of these players an opportunity to come to their school for a reduced school fee.  We were grateful to Jera for giving our girls the opportunity to come and tryout. 

November 5, 2011

Another Milestone Academically

Last night, we prayed for our ten Standard 8 students who are preparing for their National Exams next week.  Pastor Amos came and shared with these candidates and our other primary school girls, along with the club officials.  We had a great time of prayer before sharing a meal together.

800,000 students from across the country of Kenya will sit for the same exam on November 8-10.  The performance on this test will determine which high school, if any, these 8th graders may attend. Last year's Suba Laker graduating class had 7 students.  Through God's provision, each of them was able to move on to secondary school last January, which is not a common occurrence for most girls in Mbita District.  We are hopeful and expecting that all of our ten students this year will also pass and be able to get opportunities to continue their education.  On their practice exams most have them have been performing well.  There is only 1-2 that might be close to not passing, the others should be able to sail through. 

After taking their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam in early November, we will wait for the results to be released at the end of December. This test ranks all of the students in Kenya, and secondary schools use the results to select students to their schools. The best secondary schools try to select the students with the highest scores. There are 5 subjects that are examined in Primary School: Math, Science, Social Studies/Religion, English and Kiswahili. Each of the five subjects is worth 100 points for a total of 500.

This year's class is a special group.  Several of them have been with us even before we officially began the club three years ago.  We have seen these ones grow up and mature before our very eyes.  They have persevered and struggled through many difficult circumstances in their lives to reach this point which the majority of girls in Mbita never reach.  Six of these players have also played up to the National Level in Football for Primary Schools.

The girls who will be taking the exam are Alicent Awuor, Raysher Jedidah, Lydia Awino, Leah Ongojo, Caren Akeyo, Esther Atieno, Ruth Ogallo, Beryl Ogweno, Damaris Awino, Esther Atieno and Dorothy Adhiambo. 

Please pray for them during this stressful time in their lives. Pray for God's peace, for good health and to do the exams with a boldness and confidence that will allow them to be successful. In addition, pray for their futures as they wait to see the doors God will open up for them to continue their education.

October 24, 2011

Nice Gifts

Today was our last training for the 2011 school year with our Juniors. We have been having between 25-30 come from all over the area for one Saturday every month during this year. Most of these ones are in 4th - 6th grade. Some are really small, but have the heart, energy and attitude to play football. There aren't many tournaments organized in Kenya, especially for the young girls (except the ones we organize ourselves). These ones come to the field running so early just eager to take a ball and start kicking it. We have tried to teach them basic skills (dribbling, passing, shooting, juggling, heading, chesting, trapping, etc.) and get them organized to play a position in the field.

Through some generous donations and the organization of Joyce Maier, we were able to give each player a brand new pair of Nike slippers. I don't think I have ever seen them so excited before. Some of them may have never received a gift that was brand new. Young ones here mostly just get hand me d0wns or used items from the market. One of the little ones exclaimed, "This is the best gift I have ever got!" We also gave out sports bras to the few that needed them. And each of the players also received a set of exams papers to help them as they revise and prepare for their end-year exams so that they can pass and move to the next class.

It was a good ending to a good year of training. The main primary school will also get the slippers, sports bras and exams when they come for their next training. Our 13 secondary students will receive when their boarding schools close at the end of November!

August 24, 2011

Admirable Alicent

Though the Suba Laker Juniors finished third place in the KYFA 2011 Under 15 Tournament, Alicent Awuor was still awarded as the best player. She scored several goals in the 7 games and was outstanding all over the field, helping the Lakers win their pool and finish in third place. She was awarded with a nice duffel bag, a trophy, t-shirt, certificate and other gifts. She was smiling ear to ear as she received her reward. We are proud of her!

August 23, 2011

So Good

The Juniors also competed in the KYFA tournament in the Under 15 age category. Though several of the teams had older players, our young girls really competed well. In the group stages they won three matches and drew one to win their pool. They went on to win the quarterfinals in dramatic fashion. They celebrated like they had just won the world title.

Due to an unfortunate error, we had to face the #1 team from the other pool in the semifinals instead of the finals. So the two best teams played the match of the tournament in the semis. We went ahead five minutes into the match with some great passing and a classic finish by our smallest player, Teresa Atieno. A few minutes later Port Victoria equalized on our defensive error. We played great football, passing it around and controlling possession, but we missed many chances. In the end it came down to penalty kicks where we were defeated 3-2.

In the third place match, substitute Winnie Akinyi scored a goal in the 2nd half to bring home the trophy. The juniors were rewarded with a nice trophy, medals for each player, and about $7 cash that each player took home.
They played great football and showed how strong they are.

August 22, 2011

Consolation Champions

This past weekend, the Suba Lakers brought two teams to Kisumu to compete in the KYFA tournament. Our Senior team played in the open age category against some of the best teams in the region. One special part of the weekend is one of the club’s good friends, Kelsey Moore, also played with the team. Kelsey had lived in Kisumu for a couple of years and was visiting again this summer. She has come to Mbita several times to help coach our girls. The players were really excited when they found out she was going to play on their team. It always helps to have another mature player that knows how to pass and move the ball around. Our younger players learn a lot from that.

In the first match, we took charge early and won 3-0 against Kasagam. Kelsey scored two goals and Dorothy Adhiambo one. We thought we had another match that day, but had to wait for the next morning. On Saturday, we started off poorly by losing to eventual champion Victoria 3-0. In the next two matches we drew 0-0 with TYSA from Kitale and 1-1 with Smart Ladies from Kisumu when we scored a late equalizer from Pauline Otieno. So we ended up finishing 3rd in our pool of 5 teams and qualified for quarterfinals.

We were matched up against the 2nd best team from the other pool, Ibinzo. They scored in the first half on a clear off-sides infraction that wasn’t called. In the 2nd half we battled hard and even had a chance to equalize, but missed a penalty shot. The girls were exhausted after playing four matches in one day. Fortunately for us, the losers of the quarterfinals had their own consolation playoff. So on Sunday, we played Kisumu Leeds and scored two goals in the 2nd half to come back from behind and win 2-1. The goal scorers were Dorothy Adhiambo and Pauline Otieno. In the consolation Final, we managed to score a lone goal by Irine Achieng to defeat them 1-0. Seven matches in three days concluded with three wins, two losses, two draws and 18 exhausted young girls.

For winning the consolation bracket they received t-shirts and a ball.

August 12, 2011

SEP Oyugis Champions

SEP (Society Empowerment Project) in Oyugis hosted their third annual tournament at Kotieno Primary School over the weekend, August 12-14th. Eight boys teams and eight girls teams participated in the event. On the girls side Suba Lakers Girls Football Club hoisted the trophy after their 1-0 victory in the finals against the host SEP team. Pauline Otieno scored the lone goal in the tenth minute of the first half.

Earlier in the semifinals, SEP had defeated ISDAK Kisumu on post-match penalty kicks. IN the other semifinal, the Suba Lakers coasted to a 3-0 victory over Angaza from Thika on 2 goals from Sharon Bismark and a goal from Dorothy Adhiambo. The Lakers had earned the top spot in their pool by drawing in their first match and then winning 1-0 in the second match and 7-0 in their final preliminary match.

The Suba Lakers will be competing in the KYFA Nationwide Ladies Tournament in Kisumu this weekend. They will have a Junior team competing in the 15 and under portion and a Senior team competing in the open age category. THe tournament will be held at Kisumu Polytechnic.

July 29, 2011

Talented Little Ones

Friday, July 29, 2011

Talented Little Ones

The Suba Lakers 2nd Annual Junior Girls Tournament was a rousing success. 16 primary school teams arrived early on Friday morning, 29th July ready for the 7 v. 7 competition for girls aged 14 and below. Each team played three preliminary games before moving to the knockout stages. Wasaria Primary, Christ's Gift Academy, Mbita Primary and Usare Primary won their respective quarterfinal matches. In the semifinals Usare Primary eliminated Wasaria from title contention with their victory and Christ's Gift Academy dispatched Mbita Primary. In the third place playoff Mbita Primary emerged victorious over Wasaria 1-0 on a goal by the tournament's top scorer (and one of the smallest players), Laurine Achieng. In the Championship game Usare and Christ's Gift Academy battled toe to toe, taking their shots at winning in regulation. The match ended scoreless and went to penalties where Usare won 3-1.

The 200 participants were also taught how to take control of their own lives and make decisions that will help to build a better future. Lucy Ondari from CRADLE shared with them at the beginning of the day and Joe Peterson shared the Gospel with them during a break in the action. The District Quality Assurance Officer also took time to watch them play and share some important pieces of advice.

The day ended with an awards ceremony, honoring the outstanding teams and outstanding individual performers from the day. Each team received a ball and a certificate. The 2nd and 3rd place teams both received cash awards given directly to the participants. The 1st place team also received a cash prize, along with a jersey and pair of shorts for each player. The outstanding performers were also recognized and given jerseys and shorts. The list of awards consisted of:

Best Goalkeeper- Jennifer Awino from Mbita Primary and Lillian Awuor from Usare Primary
Best Defender- Brenda Sharon from Wasaria Primary
Top Goal Scorer- Laurine Achieng from Mbita Primary
Best Young Player- Brenda June from Usare Primary
Best Player- Dorine Ongata from Gethsemane Gardens
Most Valuable Player- Teresa Atieno from Christ's Gift Academy
Winning Coach- Lucy Ondari from Usare Primary

Some of the teams attracted large cheering sections, especially from boys who came to watch. People were impressed at the level of talent that girls could display on the field, especially from some very young girls. It was a 14 and under tournament, but the top two goal scorers were 12 and 10 years old respectively. Mbita continues to demonstrate that they can boast of some of the top up and coming girls in the country.

July 27, 2011

Hosting 2nd Annual Tournament

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

2nd Annual Suba Lakers Tournament

The Suba Lakers Girls Football Club is hosting the 2nd Annual Junior Girls Tournament on Friday, 29th July. Sixteen primary school teams comprised of girls aged 14 and below have entered this year’s competition at Mbita High School. Gethsemane Gardens will be coming from Mfangano Island, Wasaria and Temo will be coming from Rusinga Island and the other 14 teams will be from the mainland within Mbita District. Last year’s surprise champion was Milimani Academy, a new up and coming school. Temo finished in 2nd place and Christ’s Gift Academy was 3rd.

The competition will have 7 players aside on smaller fields to maximize opportunities for the players to be active and involved in the games. Each team will get three preliminary games before the knockout stages begin. All of the participants will receive lunch and each team will get a ball and certificate. The winning team will be given sh. 3,000 to share among the players as well as soccer jerseys and shorts for each player. The second and third place teams will also receive cash prizes.

Several guest speakers, including the Mbita District Quality Assurance Officer Mr. Ragot, will be coming to share with the nearly 200 girls participating and the spectators about issues that are affecting the girl child in this area.

Everyone is welcome to come and watch these young girls display their abilities on the football pitch.

June 8, 2011

Sakata Regional Finals

We took our top team to Kisumu this weekend for the Sakata Regional Finals. The best part was that it didn't cost us any money. The tournament paid for our transportation, meals and accomodation. Nothing came out of our own pocket. They put us up in a hotel and some of our girls were using flush toilets and taking hot showers for the first time.

When we reached on Friday afternoon, we trained for a short time and then they brought us to the conference room so a speaker could share with them about life skills. He talked about their future and their dreams. They discussed choices that would help them reach their dreams and obstacles that would derail their pursuit. He shared about discipline and hard work in the classroom and on the field. They received some great lessons.

When the tournament began on Saturday, we were matched against the best team in the semifinals. They were older women that compete in the Kenya Women's Premier League. When we first played them 4 years ago, they defeated us 9-0, then 4-0 three years ago, then 2-0 two years ago and finally 1-0 last year.

After about 5 minutes they scored their first goal on a cross that was headed over the goal keeper who had mistimed her jump. I think many people expected a blow-out, but we quickly rebounded by equalizing a few minutes later on a goal from Pauline Aoko. Unfortunately at the end of the 1st half we gave up another goal to go down 2-1. In the 2nd half Irine Achieng and Dorothy Adhiambo both had good shots at the goal, but were stopped by the goal keeper. Neither team converted another goal in the last half so it ended in a 2-1 defeat for us. The other team went on to win the finals in a lop-sided affair.

Our young girls put up a good fight, but couldn't pull it out in the end. We definitely made a positive impression. Even the next day, people around the field were still talking about the fight our girls put up. They didn't expect our young girls to be able hold a giant like that. They were commenting that our game was like the final because it was the two best teams. People were also impressed with our team's attitude towards the officials, referees and the other team.

It was a good showing, but it was unfortunate we couldn't have played one of the other two teams in the semifinals so that we could have reached the finals.

I am keeping faith that God will soon reward us for our faithfulness and honesty in these tournaments against some of the big teams.

June 2, 2011

Going to Regional Finals

We are taking our top 18 girls to Kisumu on Friday for the Sakata Nyanza Regional Finals. This is probably the strongest team we have ever taken to a tournament. As our young girls continue to grow and develop physically as well as improve their football skills, the team keeps getting better and better. We defeated two very good teams to reach this next stage.

There will only be four girls teams in Kisumu for the Regional Finals. The winning team will get a cash prize and a ticket to the National Finals, as well as each player receiving football cleats, socks, pads, shorts, jersey and a bag to carry it all in. That is a wonderful prize. The second place team will get a smaller cash prize.

The tournament is supposed to be for amateur players under the age of 23. Whenever you get good prizes like they have though, then many teams are tempted to cheat by bringing in players from other regions, or overage player or even professional players. So pray with us that there will be a fairness and equality to the tournament so that the right teams and right players are competing.

Our team is a mix of secondary girls with some 8th graders from primary schools. Pray for our safety as we travel and that we would bring glory to God by the way we play as a team, our effort and our attitude!

May 21, 2011

A Muddy Final

On Friday, we piled twelve girls football players in my vehicle and ten more in a little sedan. The Suba Lakers were competing in the Safaricom sponsored Sakata tournament in Homa Bay. The previous day was quite chaotic in Mbita with poor organization and poor communication, but since we were the only girls team to show up at the district level we were declared the winner and punched our ticket to Homa Bay for the regional.

In the first match in Homa Bay we defeated Lala Secondary School 4-0 on goals by Leah Awuor, Dorothy Adhiambo, Pauline Aoko and Beatrice Awuor. In the finals we were matched up with the winner from Rachuonyo District, Victoria Football Club. We had played them last year in the Galactico tournament in Kisumu and lost on a last second goal 1-0. Since that time, their club has managed to qualify for the Kenyan Ladies Premier League by defeating all of the competitors from Nyanza Province, Rift Valley Province and Western Province. They have a very strong team.

The first half was evenly played with neither side getting a very good opportunity to score. Our girls began the 2nd half aggressively and it paid off when Caren Akeyo put Beatrice Awuor's cross in the back of the net about ten minutes into the half. It came in the nick of time as just a few minutes later the rain began pouring down. The field quickly turned into a mud bog and both teams were slipping and falling down everywhere. It was like a comedy show and it would have made a great detergent commercial. By the end of the match our red uniforms were brown and all of the football cleats and socks had been taken off and thrown to the sidelines. We held on for a hard fought 1-0 win.

All of our reserve players who had been taking cover under the canopy, ran onto the field and began celebrating the championship. During the celebration, they managed to get as dirty as the ones who had been playing. I was not spared either. When the rains began, everyone went to take cover, but I knew that the girls would not feel good if they were left out in the rain to play while everyone else was staying dry. So I stood alone on the sidelines in the downpour and tried to encourage them and shouted even louder.

The girls showed great courage and determination to pull out the victory.

We will travel back to Homa Bay on Sunday to play the winner from Migori County to see who gets to proceed to Kisumu for the Regional Tournament in June.

April 18, 2011

A Proud Father

The experience at Nationals was a good one. I was in a difficult position because our five girls were on the team, but I needed to be impartial and treat everyone the same.

Looking back on the past ten days, I can't explain how proud I am of our five girls. They performed very well on the field (all of them were starters). They weren't the most talented players in the starting line-up, but they were the glue that held the team together on the field and off the field. They played so unselfishly, passing to everyone (unlike some of the more talented players who only passed to certain people). They didn't overdribble and they worked hard on the attack and also dropped quickly on the defensive end, running the entire field. They played football the way it was meant to be played.

Off the field, they made friends with everyone. They got to know the other girls from different areas and regions and did things to help them out. They were disciplined and respectful to all of their coaches, teachers and chaperones. They were the first ones volunteering to help in the dorms or on the field. They took up responsiblities to help give out and collect uniforms. They didn't complain when things were not so good. They didn't quarrell with their teammates. So many of the other teachers and coaches gave me many compliments about their behavior.

It made me very proud and I realized that the way we are teaching and coaching them within the club is helping to form their character into a Godly one. They are far from perfect, but they are growing up as responsible, hard-working and respectful teenagers. I think I was more proud of them off the field than on the field (though I was pretty darn proud of them on the field too!)

April 17, 2011

National Players

I have been coaching our school team and club team and also teams from our area all the way up to the Provencial level for the past 4 years, but this is the first year I was asked to assist the Provencial Team at the National Level. Since five of the girls from our club were selected for the team and because we were closing the school term, it seemed like a great idea.

So, after two days at home, I was back on the road headed to Nyamira (Kisii) to help with training for a couple of days before leaving for the tournament. It was a little akward because I didn't really know the head coach very well and my few interactions with him had not been very pleasant. I was a little worried and wanted to have a very humble approach. After I arrived, we had one practice and then he informed me he was going home to see his family for a day and I was in charge of the team. I hadn't selected the players and didn't know any of them except for the five. It was not easy, but turned out ok. The coach was very receptive to my help and we made a good partnership and friendship.

After training camp ended, we boarded the bus at midnight, ready for the 12 hour journey across the country to Meru, at the base of Mount Kenya.

In the previous ten years, Nyanza Province Girls Football had never even reached the semifinal stage against the other seven provinces. When you think of all the excellent girls in our area, that is difficult history to believe. I think in the past a lot of the problems were because of poor player selection and also poor fielding (not picking the right players and putting them in the right positions). I learned that another problem in the past was tribalism. Our province mainly consists of Kisii and Luo. Though the tribes normally get along well, sometimes in younger kids they find it hard to interact with each other, especially when they are so used to speaking their tribal languages. It leads to mistrust and quarrells and other problems. And honestly, sometimes girls can just be a little catty.

In my opinion this the player selection still wasn't very good this time; several good players were left behind while some others were taken that didn't deserve it. This made fielding difficult also because we didn't have anyone to play certain positions or any good back-ups at other positions. Some players had to play out of position because of the lack of depth. In the preliminary stages we also had some conflict and some selfishness by some of the players who would only pass to certain players, but the teamwork continued to improve as the time went along.

We won our first match 2-0 and then drew the next two matches 0-0 and again 0-0 to finish as the runners-up in our pool. We marched into the semifinals and soundly beat Coast Province 2-0 with two second half goals. Our whole team with all of our fans marched up the street to the main venue singing and chanting. Once we reached the stage, they began playing a song familiar to our region and we danced for quite a while, savoring the big moment.

That win set up a rematch in the National Finals with the defending champs, Western Province (our neighbors). We had drew with them in the last preliminary game the previous day.

As expected, it was a very intense, hard fought match. They had speed and power. We had skill. Our goalkeeper made a few good saves to preserve our defense's scoreless streak in the tournament. We also had a few chances, especially on two free kicks just outside the box, but neither team scored in regulation and we went into extra time. Unfortunately, our goal keeper bobbled a long shot that fell down in front of her. There was some confusion as the Western fans started shouting behind the goal, and before we knew it, the ref signalled that the ball had crossed the line and called it a goal. Since he was standing at halfway across the field when the play happened and with our goalkeeper in perfect position behind the ball, I still find it very hard to believe it was a goal, but the referee's decision is final. So the game ended like that. Everyone was heartbroken. Things didn't improve either in the boys final when our boys lost by a goal also.

The girls were much happier when they received their silver medals and a big trophy to bring back to Nyanza, though it is painful being that close and coming up short. Considering the history of girls football in the past ten years, 2nd place is a big accomplishment. It was a great experience for me and the entire team.

April 6, 2011


The last part of March and first part of April in Kenya are filled with primary school sports, including football, volleyball, netball (twisted version of basketball), handball and gymnastics . It starts at the school level competing against the other local schools. After that competition, they choose the best players to form a new team and move on to the next level. They continue to have tournaments where they select the best players who continue to move on through the different levels, including school, base, zone, division, district, regional, provencial and finally national. So it is about 8 different levels they pass through until they get the best players in the country to compete at Nationals.

I have been coaching the different teams through each level for girls football. As we move to the different levels we compete against other members from our Suba Lakers Girls Football club. After competing against each other, then we join together to compete at the next level. The players from CGA and myself coaching them have managed to emerge victorious at each of those levels.

The latest success came as our Mbita District team destroyed the competition at Regionals in Ndhiwa, winning each match by a large margin. After the success there, twelve of our girls were selected to represent the region at Provencials. There were only two players selected from other districts. So after training for three days we travelled to Kisii with the other sports teams from our region to take on the other regions in the province. The Mbita girls (all Suba Lakers) once again shined brightly, drawing the praise of the fans, officials and other teams.

With four goals coming from Leah Ongojo and two from Caren Akeyo, the team won both preliminary games by scores of 3-1. In the semifinals we met a very strong Kisii team. Towards the end of the first half, Alicent Awuor crossed the ball to Sharon Akinyi who struck the ball into the top left corner to put us ahead 1-0. Defender Peninah Akoth made a great goalline save and we held on in the second half for a hard fought victory. In the finals Lucia Awino scored in the first few minutes of the game to put us ahead and we never looked back. Defender Lydia Awino kept the other team's top scorer in check the entire game and goalkeeper Winny Adhiambo made some great saves to preserve the win. The first time our county or district has won the Provencial title. We have reached the finals for the past three years, but each time lost narrowly.

For their success, five of our players were selected for Nationals, including Alicent Awuor, Raisha Achilla, Lavenda Achieng, Leah Ongojo and Lydia Awino. We are very proud of them. Their hard work within the Suba Lakers Club has paid off. People all over the country are recognizing their outstanding talent and ability. They will get a chance to compete and train with the best players in the province and against the best in the country next week in Meru. They will also receive National Certificates that will greatly benefit them in getting into colleges and even getting jobs in the future..

January 10, 2011

Doors Opening

In our football club last year we had seven girls who were in 8th grade and sat their National Exams in November. Four of them passed and three of them failed. The ones that passed, didn't just pass, but truly excelled. Adah was the 7th best girl out of thousands in the district, Linet was the 16th best girl in the district and Sharon was the top girl at her school. Phenny also passed.

But the problem is that the ones who failed, really failed! I have been troubled for the past few weeks since the results came out. All three of them are already 17 years old, so repeating 8th grade didn't seem like a very good idea. They all have widowed mothers who struggle just to feed their families on a daily basis. God provided a way this week. The coach from Kisii United called. His club finished 2nd last year in the Kenyan Women's Premier League. They have a great club and are doing so well. Henry has also been appointed as the coach for the Kenyan Women's Under 23 National Team. He was asking about some of our players, including some of these girls. He said that even with their low scores, he could find a day school in Kisii where they could learn. His club will pay for all the school fees and the girls will stay in the hostel with some of the other team members and train with them on a regular basis.

Praise God!

Their mothers came today and four of our club officials shared this idea with them. They were estatic that their girls could continue their education and that someone was willing to pay for it because of their football talents.

When all of us though there was no hope, God opened the doors!