December 18, 2012

International Human Rights

The 2012 School Year has come to a close and all of the students throughout Kenya are back in their homes to celebrate Christmas and ring in the New Year.  Most of the Suba Lakers are in Mbita training together and preparing for a few holiday tournament.  This week they are getting ready for the International Human Rights Tournament in Kisumu December 20-22.  After a tough league season, it is good to get all of our best players on the field together again to play against some good competition.  Our young girls have learned so much in the past year and have grown tremendously as players, students and even moreso as people. 

December 12, 2012

Charleston Fundraiser

In Charleston, South Carolina on Thursday morning (December 13), Low Country Live on WCIV TV News Channel 4 will be dedicating a segment of the show to fundraising for some of the Suba Laker girls who are hoping to get the chance to join high school next year. 

And later that day, Butterfly Boutique Consignment will be hosting a Christmas Party to hopefully raise money for them.  Party runs from 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm.  Kenyan artificats, silent auction, door prizes, Charleston Christmas Ornaments (complete with a Palmetto Bug hand-made by Anne Belser for a minimum donation of $15).

Tickets for sale at the door, minimum donation of $15 to receive 20% off your purchase on that day, minimum of $25 donation to receive 30% off on that day, minimum donation of $35 to receive 40% off your purchases on that day.

There will be food and libations; and Kenyan Christmas music playing.

It is a great cause that will directly help young girls in rural Kenya with the opportunity to continue their education, instead of dropping out of school and getting married at an early age.


December 3, 2012

National Exams

800,000 Eighth Graders across Kenya will be sitting for their National Exams December 4-6. It is a very pivotal moment in their lives as their entire primary school education comes down to this one exam taken over three days. It is the only thing from Primary School that High Schools, Colleges, and even future employers will look at to assess their performance. 

On Tuesday, December 4th the students will begin with a 2 hour Math exam, 1 hour 50 minute English Grammar exam and write a 45 minute Composition.

On Wednesday, December 5th the students will take a 1 hour 50 minute Science exam, 1 hour 50 minute Kiswahili Grammar exam and a 45 minute Kiswahili Composition.

On Thursday, December 6th the students will finish with a 2 hour 15 minute Social Studies and Religious Education exam. Except for the two compositions, the rest of the exams are all multiple choice in 8th grade.

Thirteen Suba Lakers from various primary schools throughout Mbita District will be taking the exam this week. In a district where less than half of the girls finish primary school, it is a big achievement for a young girl to complete her primary school education, pass her exams and move on to secondary school. There are many obstacles along the way that threaten to derail their opportunity for an education. We are proud of each of our girls for persevering and enduring to reach this level. Most of them come from disadvantaged homes that presented many challenges along the way. Four of the 14 girls are total orphans without any parents, seven are partial orphans who have lost one parent and two of them still have both parents. These young girls have overcome the odds and are striving to build a better future for themselves and their families.

In the last two years all of the 17 girls from the Suba Lakers who have sat their National Exams have managed to move on to high school and are continuing their education. That is a big accomplishment and we hope that it will continue with this year’s group.

Once finishing their National Exams, they will have to wait until the end of January to receive their results and then we hope each of them will begin high school in February or March.

Please pray for them during this critical time. Here is a sample of how you can be praying for them...

Our God and Father, we come before you in the name of your Son which is our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Even though we are halfway across the world, we are thankful that we can still pray for these children in Kenya. We commit these 13 students into your able hands. We ask for your protection and covering over them in the next few days as they prepare for their National Exams. Keep them healthy and strong physically and mentally. Give them good sleep at nighttime. May your peace that surpasses all understanding cover their hearts and their minds. May your Holy Spirit convict them of any sin in their life so that they may confess it before man and before you so that their minds may be free from the bondage that comes from sin. May their trust and hope be placed in you. Remind them of all the things they have learnt since they began their education. Remind them of what their teachers have taught them, what they have read in their textbooks and what they have studied from their notes. Remind them of questions they have come across in other exams they have taken previously. Help them not to be stressed or worried, but instead that they would be confident and sure. Help them to enjoy taking their exams. Make it fun and exciting for them. Give them an easy and comfortable time with their supervisor, invigilators, security guards and the other school staff that is around during exams.


And Lord we commit their futures in your hands. Their results, where they will go to secondary school and their future careers are all part of your plan for their lives. And from Jeremiah 29:11 we know that your plans for them are good; plans to prosper them and give them hope and a future. As King, you reign sovereignly and supremely over everything including National Exams and each of these students and their lives. Thank you for your great love for each of us. You are an amazing God! In Jesus name we pray Amen!


November 13, 2012

Mighty Mite

The Suba Lakers closed out the Division 1 season with a couple of losses on the road this past weekend.  They lost to Nyuki Starlets on Saturday in Kakamega and then dropped a close one to Kisumu Leeds 4-3 in Kisumu on Sunday.  They made it a close game with the smallest (and youngest) player on the field scoring two dynamite goals. 

In the Suba Lakers video on and on youtube, Brenda June declares that she wants to be the best player in the world.  She is well on her way!

June was born in 2001 and stands about 5 feet tall.  She is probably 5-10 years younger than most of the girls she was competing against, but she managed to put two lasers in the back of the net to bring the Lakers close to drawing even.  The Lakers also got a penalty kick that Belinda Awuor knocked in.  The offensive effort wasn't enough as the team allowed 4 goals to narrowly lose by one. 

It wasn't the ending the club was hoping for in a highly competitive Nationwide Division 1 league.  It was the first year of competing in the 2nd highest league in the country.  During the first half of the league, most of the secondary school girls were available to compete, but in the second leg, the Lakers had to use their primary school girls almost exclusively.  They battled hard throughout the season against much older and bigger players.  They were only blown out of one game.  Every other game was a pretty close affair where they had a chance to pull it out. 

Overall, it was a great opportunity for the girls of Mbita to develop their talents and compete against some of the best players and teams in the country.  The experience will make them much stronger in the future. 

There will be some other open tournaments in December during the school holidays. 

November 3, 2012

Barren Draw

The Suba Lakers continued their Division 1 Season with a barren draw against arch rivals Victoria.  Victoria is sitting in 4th place in the league, one position ahead of the Suba Lakers.  In the earlier match in Kendu Bay back in September, Victoria emerged triumphant with a 2-0 victory. 

This time around both teams battled hard in an evenly matched contest.  The Lakers were playing with 9 of their primary school players against the more experienced team.  The outstanding performers on the day were once again Goalkeeper Lillian Awuor and defender Lavenda Achieng. 

The Suba Lakers will finish off their season in the inaugural FKF Ladies Division 1 League next weekend with away matches at Nyuki Starlets and Kisumu Leeds. 

October 29, 2012

A Bright Future

Most people didn't have a lot of hope going into the match against the league leading Kakamega Muslims team.  Last time the two teams met, the Suba Lakers suffered their biggest defeat of the year with a 3-0 loss, and that was with all of our best players.  This time around, none of the secondary school students were available because of exams going on.  Many of our younger girls had not even played a game in the Division 1 league season and it is not easy for 5th, 6th and 7th graders competing against much older women. 

The game started amidst a mid-day downpour that soaked the players and also the field for about 10 minutes.  Because of the poor condition of the field, Kakamega scored a sloppy goal in the first half when 2 Suba Lakers slipped and fell down and the goal keeper couldn't get solid enough footing to collect the weak shot that dribbled in.  The young Suba Lakers didn't back down against the 1st place team and were able to battle back in the second half to equalize after Lenser Adoyo was taken down in the box.  The resulting penalty kick produced a goal for Irine Achieng.  Most of the game took place in the center of the field with the teams battling equalling.  The Suba Lakers tiny midfield duo of Theresa Atieno and Brenda June were outstanding at controlling the ball and distributing it to the forward players.  They were about 2 heads shorter than the opponent, but they set the tone with their aggressiveness.  Lavenda Achieng was equally formidable in the defense, with some support from Eunice Anyango, Mourine Owiti and Nancy Okeyo.  6th Grade goalkeeper Lillian Awuor continued her stellar play over the past month by blocking many shots. 

Unfortunately, in the closing ten minutes a Kakamega player dribbled it down the wing and around several defenders and put in a beautiful cross that was headed into the back of the net, leaving the goalkeeper with no chance of stopping it.  It ended 2-1 in favor of Kakamega.

After the match, when the opposing coach heard that his team had just played a team made up entirely of primary school girls, he was stunned. 

It looks like the Suba Lakers have a bright future!

October 26, 2012

Billings Gazette Article

Bighaus column: Rocky's 'Little Joe' keeps Hall on hold to help others

2012-10-25T23:00:00Z2012-10-26T01:09:05ZBighaus column: Rocky's 'Little Joe' keeps Hall on hold to help othersThe Billings Gazette
Joe Peterson's induction ceremony for the Clara Klindt Athletic Hall of Fame at Rocky Mountain College has been on hold for a couple of years.

It may stay that way for a few more years.

The 36-year-old Peterson was a hard-charging, high-scoring basketball standout at the school in the late 1990s. For the past nine years, "Little Joe" has been serving as a missionary, teacher and soccer coach in Africa, working to help ease poverty and hardship in rural Kenya.

Peterson, who was visiting Billings for the first time in four years last weekend, said it was "kind of a shock" in 2010 when he received the news in the small fishing village of Mbita that Rocky had chosen him to be a member of its sports Hall of Fame.

"I don't know if I quite deserve it to be honest with you," he said. "But I'm very much honored."
The 5-foot-9 Peterson, a point guard, earned All-Frontier Conference accolades and some NAIA All-America recognition during his senior season at Rocky in 1997-98.

He went on to become an assistant coach for the Battlin' Bears for one season before moving on to serve as a Division I assistant for two years at Northwestern State University in Louisiana, and two years at Charleston Southern University in Charleston, S.C.

Northwestern State made it to the NCAA Tournament in 2001 -- and even won a game.
However, a few years later, following a short trip to Kenya, Peterson decided to step away from his promising coaching career. He sold all of his personal belongings and has been doing missionary work for Christ's Gift Academy in Mbita since 2004.

"My role with the young children in Kenya is to try to bring hope to them," Peterson said. "Bring hope for this life, but more than that bring hope for eternity for them."

Christ's Gift Academy, situated on Lake Victoria, was started in 1997 in response to the HIV/AIDs pandemic. It was developed to provide a quality education for orphans and other needy children in the community.

"Life is challenging," Peterson said. "But when you know you're where you're supposed to be, you just throw yourself into it and do the best that you can."

Peterson, a native of Lake Havasu, Ariz., returned to the United States in August and has been traveling across the country raising funds for the school, his own personal support and for the Mbita District's Suba Lakers Girls Football Club, which was formed in 2009.

"I couldn't live in Africa and do what I do without the support of the people here back home," he said. "It wouldn't be possible."

Peterson left Monday for Portland, Ore., and will also stop in Seattle. He has talked to church groups, at schools, to sports teams and at coaching clinics across the country.

Set to return to Kenya on Nov. 24, he visited friends on the Rocky campus Friday and watched the women's soccer team play. His visit to Billings, though, wasn't long enough for the school to organize a proper Hall of Fame ceremony.

"I think it will probably be two or three years before I come back again," Peterson said. "I've been talking to Bobby Beers, the AD. He just said next time when I know that I'm coming to make sure to let them know in advance and they can maybe plan it."

Peterson is committed to teaching, coaching and administrating with Christ's Gift Academy at least through 2014.

"At this point I'm kind of seeing that I might be there much longer," he said. "I'm very open. It could be 10 more years or 20 ... It's definitely home and it would be really hard to leave, but if that's what God calls me to do, I'll be ready for it."

Peterson lives in a small rental house on a compound near the school. He has running water, but no flush toilet or electricity.

"I have solar power so I can power up my television and computer for a few hours each night," he said.

As a college basketball player, first at Dawson Community College in Glendive and then Rocky, Peterson said, "I really feel like I worked as hard as I possibly could to be the best basketball player that I possibly could."

These days, he is putting forth the same energy as a soccer coach in Mbita, working mostly with young girls in the sixth through eighth grade. He is hoping that their enjoyment and success with the sport — along with his steady influence as a role model — will help "impact their lives physically, socially, academically and spiritually."

That combination of faith, sports and academics appears to be working.
"I think in my life I've seen the power of sports and how God can use sports to impact the lives of people," Peterson said. "It's fun to be able to do that in Kenya, and especially with a group like these young girls that are so neglected and have so few opportunities."

With the Suba Lakers, one of the requirements is that the girls have to stay in school to play. Peterson said only about half of the girls in the impoverished Mbita District will finish eighth grade, but progress is being made to improve that statistic through sports and academic programs designed to ward off negative influences.

"Every year they stay in school it decreases the chances they're going to get HIV and AIDs," he said. "It basically increases their opportunity to make more money in the future. They're, literally, breaking the cycle of poverty in their families."

While Peterson's exploits on the basketball court at Rocky — especially his determined drives to the basket — made him Hall of Fame worthy, his life-changing work as a missionary has earned him even more praise around campus in recent years.

"Sometimes that makes me feel a little bit awkward," Peterson said of the attention. "All of us, I think, are called to be missionaries and to serve and to love others and to help others."

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October 23, 2012

2nd Half Kicks off

The Suba Lakers opened the 2nd leg of their Nationwide Division I league this past weekend by taking the longest trip of the season.  They travelled on Saturday to Naivasha to take on the Oserian Queens.  In the very first game of the inaugural season the Queens defeated the Lakers in Mbita 2-1 and that  was the difference in the standings between the two teams with the Queens holding a 3 point advantage because of that win. 

Several of the Suba Laker high school players were not available this time around because of committments in their schools and so their travelling squad consisted of half primary school girls and half secondary school girls.  The inexperience showed through in a 2-0 loss to the more mature and seasoned Oserian Queen players, but the standout performance was delivered by Suba Laker goal keeper Lillian Awuor who saved close to 15 shots on goal, inlcuding some acrobatic efforts that kept the game close.  The 6th grader even caught the eyes of the opposing team. 

The Lakers had some vehicle problems on the way home but eventually reached in the night and are now busy preparing for a home match this coming weekend. 

September 24, 2012

Winning in Style

The Suba Lakers hosted arch rivals Kisumu Leeds United in the last match of the 1st leg of the FKF Division I league.  Both teams have struggled a little bit in the first leg and were battling to stay in the middle of the pack halfway through the season. 

There was a big crowd at Mbita High School to watch the home team play, and they stayed noisy for the entire 90 minutes.  The Lakers started well and created many chances early on, playing with good ball-control and taking charge of the match, but never finished.  Early in the 2nd half Dorothy Adhiambo created a chance resulting in a handball from Leeds.  Raisha Achieng converted the penalty kick to give the Lakers a 1-0 lead. 

After Kisumu Leeds equalized, the Lakers slowly regained control and pulled out the victory with a low line drive shot by Alicent Awuor.  The 2-1 victory was probably the best performance of the season from the Lakers up to this point as they demonstrated great ball possession and played like seasoned veterans. 

With the win, the Lakers now have 7 points on the season with 2 wins, 1 draw and 3 losses.  They are sitting in 5th place out of 7 teams at the halfway point, but are only 2 points out of third place. 

After the game, many of them returned to their high schools as we received word that the public school teacher strike had finally been called off, after 4 weeks.  When the 2nd leg of the season cranks up some of the high school girls will be able to continue playing while others will have to be replaced by some of our primary school players. 

September 16, 2012

Bad News and Good News

The bad  news is that almost all of our girls are not in school right now because the public school teachers in Kenya have gone on strike demanding more.  Term 3 was supposed to begin the first week of September, but it never started because of the strike.  The government and the teachers union still seem very far away from reaching an agreement.  It is only a 9 week term, and two of those weeks have already been lost.  Our 8th graders will be taking their National Exams in less than 2 months but are not able to adequately prepare for this big event in their life because there are no teachers!  Pray for them to be disciplined and focused to study on their own.

The good news is that most of the girls are back in Mbita and able to continue training with the club and playing in our league games.  The team travelled to Kendu Bay this weekend to play Victoria Football Club.  On a rainy day, the Lakers gave up a couple of goals in the first half including a penalty kick that was a questionable call.  They fought hard in the 2nd half and almost equalized, but came up short in the 2-0 loss on the rain-soaked field.

Next week they will play at home against Kisumu Leeds in the final match of 1st half of the season.  They are still positioned in middle of the league standings.    

September 3, 2012

Win, Lose or Draw

The Division One season continued this past weekend with a home match against Nyuki Starlets from Western Province.  In the first half 6th grader Lencer Adoyo scored the first goal for the Lakers, who still found themselves trailing at half-time 2-1.  In the second half Caren Akeyo scored a great header to even up the score and the game ended in a 2-2 draw.

The secondary girls will be returning to their boarding schools this week and the primary school girls will also be starting their last term of the year.  After a week off, the season will resume on September 15th. So far the Lakers have won 1, lost 2 and drawn 1.

August 28, 2012

Division 1 Season Continues

The Suba Lakers went on the road for their 2nd and 3rd games in the FKF Nationwide Ladies Division 1 League.  After dropping a close one at home 1-0 to the league leaders, the Lakers headed out to Eldoret and Kakamega last weekend.

On Saturday in Eldoret they faced Kick to Life.  The field was less than ideal, but they made the best of the situation and jumped on the home team early with a goal from Irine Achieng.  A little later Dorothy Adhiambo was fouled inside the box and Irine slotted home her 2nd goal of the day.  Alicent Awuor rounded out the scoring with a screamer from outside the box.  Kick to Life was very big and fast, but the Lakers defense proved strong and Lillian Awuor did a good job between the posts.  The much younger Lakers held on for a 3-2 victory.

On Sunday, they were in Kakamega to play against Kakamega Muslim who had won their first match of the season in convincing fashion. The first half was played at a very high level.  The Lakers created many chances, but couldn't score a goal.  In the 2nd half, Kakamega scored a goal when it bounced over the goalkeeper.  That bad fortune deflated the hopes of the girls and the Lakers ended up losing 3-0.

Going on the road and getting one win out of two is a good result.  The Lakers are currently in 4th place out of 7 teams in the Western Zone of the league.  Next Saturday (Sep 1) they will be hosting Nyuki in Mbita.

August 22, 2012

1st Match

The Suba Lakers played their first game in the inaugural Kenya Division I Ladies League last Saturday, August 18th.  The new football federation has started the 2nd tier league for ladies as a springboard to the Premier League.  Our zone is made up from teams all over the Western half of the country.  The first match was at home against Oserian from Naivasha.  They come from just outside of Nairobi.

Because schools are having a three week holiday, every one of our school going girls were available for the game.  We only had one player missing from the team because she hadn't yet been approved by the Federation.

Oserian scored in the 10th minute on a goalkeeping error, but the Lakers battled back to score a goal in the 2nd half in the 60th minute.  Dorothy Adhiambo struck it into the back of the net.  A few minutes later Pheny Akoth also hit the back of the net with a header, but for some unexplained reason the referee disallowed the goal and brought the ball back for a free kick instead.  Even though the Lakers battled hard, Oserian later netted the winner in the 80th minute to take home a 2-1 win over the Suba Lakers.

Outstanding performers for the ladies included Lydia Awino playing fullback, Raysher Jedida manning the midfield and Irine Achieng on the left wing.

The Lakers will travel to Eldoret and Kakamega this weekend for two more matches.

August 11, 2012

Division I League

It is official!  The Suba Lakers have joined the Football Kenya Federation Division I Nationwide Ladies League.  We have been able to pay all of the fees required and have registered all of our players.  The league was supposed to kick off today, 11th August, but because of some problems that other teams were having, they postponed it until next weekend. 

We will be competing in the Western Region with the following teams: Oserian from Naivasha, Kick to Life from Eldoret, Kakamega Muslim, Kisumu Leeds United and Victoria from Kendu Bay.  We will play each team home and away with the top teams qualifying for the Kenya Ladies Premier League next year.  It is quite an honor to be invited to play in the 2nd highest league for ladies in the country and we are looking for individuals and corporations in Kenya that will be able to help support us financially with travel costs and other expenses.

Here are the tentative fixtures for the first leg of the league:

Aug 18th     Oserian (home)
Aug 25th     Kick to Life (Eldoret)
Aug 26th     Kakamega Muslim (Kakamega)
Sep 1st       Kisumu Leeds (home)
Sep 15th     Victoria (Kendu Bay)

July 14, 2012


The Nyanza Province Secondary School Girls football final between Jera and Kobala was highly anticipated.  There were three Suba Lakers playing for Jera and one playing for Kobala.  All of them are in their first year of secondary school.  Last year's final matched the same two teams and came down to a goal in extra time from Jera to propel them to Nationals.  This year it was obvious to everyone as the two teams moved through their zonals, districts, regionals, and provencal preliminary games that they were destined to meet again in this year's final.

This time around Kobala began very strong, but it only took Jera a few minutes to move ahead as the goal keeper made a mistake on Jera's free kick and allowed the ball to roll into the goal.   After the goal Jera quickly took control of the game possessing the ball and creating more chances around the goal.  After the first 35 minutes,  Jera was ahead 1-0 going into halftime.  The beginning of the 2nd half looked very similar to the end of the first half with Jera dominating ball possession and creating many chances.  They finally capitalized on one of those chances when the ball was kicked high in the air in the box and Alicent Awuor (Suba Lakers) cushioned the high ball with a soft header directed at the goal.  The keeper lunged for it, but didn't get it cleanly and Alicent poked it in the goal to take a commanding 2-0 lead for Jera. 

At that point most people thought the match was over since Jera had a two goal lead in the 2nd half and had controlled the game, especially the midfield.  But Kobala kept fighting.  Buoyed by a couple of substitutes that had a lot of energy, they managed to get a goal back from a free kick with about 10 minutes to go.  As time was winding down, the 4th official signaled to the center referee that time was up, but two minutes were added for injury time.  With Jera ready to celebrate the championship, everything changed when the linesman raised her flag and began running towards the goal signalling for a penalty kick.  It was a very questionable call (especially in the dying seconds) where it looked like the ball might have hit the defender's stomach, but the referee called it a handball and gave Kobala the penalty kick.  They took full advantage by converting the penalty and sending the match into extra time for the second consecutive year. 

The additional twenty minutes didn't settle the matter so they went for post-match penalty kicks.  Kobala scored each of their kicks and emerged the champions of Nyanza Province.  It was unfortunate that the championship was decided by a referee's call and then by post-match penalties, but it was a great, competitive match that showed the level of girls football in this country greatly rising.   Both teams are extremely talented and well coached.  Kobala will be a good representative for Nyanza at the Nationals in Mombasa.  We hope they can show the country that the best players come from Nyanza.     

July 13, 2012

Province's Two Best Teams

The Nyanza Province Secondary School Tournament is going on this week in Homa Bay. Nine of our Suba Lakers are playing with their secondary school teams. Three are playing for Gekomoni, three for Jera, two for Sindo and one for Kobala. Three of the teams managed to reach the semifinal stage. In the first semifinal Caren Akeyo helped lead Kobala to an emphatic 3-0 win to qualify for the finals.

In the other semifinal we had six of our players competing against each other for the opportunity to go to the finals. It was a tough, hard fought contest with both teams putting pressure on each other. Late in the first half, Jera had a free kick just outside the box. Goalkeeper Eliva Awuor (Suba Laker) dove and got her fingertips on it, forcing it out of the goal and it hit the post and bounced back into the field. Alicent Awuor (Suba Laker) collected the rebound and put it in the back of the next while Eliva was still trying to get off the ground. Jera held on to the 1-0 lead and booked their ticket to the finals tomorrow.

So on Saturday, there will be a rematch of last year's final between Jera and Kobala. Last year it was a battle until the dying seconds when Jera scored a goal in extra time to win the championship and qualify for Nationals. Both teams have reloaded and are stronger this year.  The the final promises to be another nail-biting affair. The four Suba Lakers who are all in their first year of secondary school will be playing on the biggest stage in front of thousands of fans!

June 18, 2012

Nationwide Division 1

At the beginning of June we received a letter from the newly elected Football Kenya Federation (FKF) inviting the Suba Lakers to join the Nationwide Division 1 Ladies League.  It is a big honor to be selected to be apart of the 2nd highest Ladies League in the country.  There are 12 teams in the Premier League and now they are trying to form another Division so that teams can qualify for the Premier League and teams from the Premier League can be relegated.  Last year in December we reached the finals in our Branch Tournament so our branch nominated us to the team to represent them Nationally. 

We are still praying about the decision and waiting to find out more information before coming to a conclusion.  At first glance it might seem like a great idea because it will give our girls opportunities to compete against some of the top players and teams across the country.  They will get exposed to new places and it can help to open up doors for them educationally and even in their future careers.  Playing against tough competition on a consistent basis will really help the players develop at a faster rate and the team as a whole will vastly improve. 

But there are other factors to consider such as the costs of taking care of the girls’ meals and accommodations every weekend and also travelling to far away places.  Right now all of our players except one are going to school.  All of the secondary girls are in boarding schools.  Being away from home and school every weekend and missing some weekend classes could affect their academics.  Their parents and teachers might also become hesitant in releasing them so often. 

We are honored and humbled by the invitation, but we are praying and trusting that God will show us the right direction to take.  We tell our girls to put God 1st, Family 2nd, Academics 3rd and Football 4th so we want to make sure that we also do that same with our decisions.      

Secondary Games

Last weekend all of our Suba Laker Secondary Girls were in action playing for their respective schools in various zonal and district competitions throughout the Province.  We were able to go and watch several of them play on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Moi Girls Secondary School in Sindo won their two preliminary matches 4-0 and 2-0.  It seems like those were warm-up games for them because they kicked it into another gear winning the semifinal 5-0 and the finals 7-0.  Playing on the left wing Irine Achieng scored 7 goals in the 4 matches and Sharon Bizmark, playing on the right wing and as a striker, scored 5 goals.  Together they helped Sindo win their zonal and qualify for the regional tournament in two weeks.

Jera Mixed Secondary School were able to win their District Championship Game 3-0 over former powerhouse Sega Girls Secondary School.  It was a convincing win against a quality team.  1st Year students Raysha Jedida, Alicent Awuor and Leah Ongojo made solid contributions to help their school qualify for regionals in two weeks. 

Kobala Mixed Secondary school also won their district on Sunday as 1st Year student, Caren Akeyo, scored the first goal in the opening minutes and the goals kept on coming after that with 6 by the halftime whistle.  It ended in a 10-0 drubbing.  In the semifinals they only won 3-0, but they showed their true potential in the finals.  Their impressive wins gave them a ticket to the Regional Finals next week. 

Gekomoni also won their district over the weekend with a 7-0 victory.  Belinda Awuor and Judith Mayor played solidly in the field and Eliva Awuor didn’t allow any balls past her in the goal.  Gekomoni has had very strong boys teams over the past couple of years, winning the province and even reaching the national finals, but this year they are trying to also put a strong emphasis on the girls and see if they can compete with Kobala and Jera.     

In Homa Bay, we had five of our players representing Bishop Okullu Magare Girls and two more playing for Asumbi Girls High School.  Asumbi had won the district 10 times out of the last 13 years so Magare was trying to stake their claim to girls football supremacy in the district.  Both teams were equally matched and they competed hard against each other.  Midway through the second half Magare broke through with a good finish inside the box from Suba Laker Damarice Awino.  They held on for a 1-0 victory with the 1st year student as the conquering hero.  One interesting part of the game was the captain for Magare was Mary Lucy Adhiambo (Suba Lakers and former CGA student) while the captain for Asumbi was Mary Lucy’s younger sister Linet (also Suba Lakers and former CGA student).  The two sisters met the referees before the match and competed hard for bragging rights in the family, but this time around the older sister prevailed, leaving the younger one waiting for next year.  Magare is proceeding to the Regional Finals in two weeks.

Sindo, Jera, Kobala, Gekomoni and Magare are all competing in the Regional Finals over the next two weeks for the chance to play in the Provencal Tournament in July.  All of them are heavy favorites to win their regions and book their tickets to face off with the best teams in the Province.  We hope to see all of them there!

June 4, 2012

Rusinga Tour

On June 1st Kenya was celebrating its 49th year of independence as a country.  The Suba Lakers used the holiday to take a little road trip within the district.  We loaded up 12 of our youngest players in my vehicle and drove across the causeway to Rusinga Island for a couple of friendly matches.  Many of the club officials and most of the players had never even been to Rusinga Island, though it is just next to Mbita town.  We have about 14 8th graders on our primary school team this year and since they will be sitting their National Exams in November and moving on to secondary school we used this opportunity to give the younger ones (mostly 5th and 6th graders with a few 7th graders) an opportunity to play.  In addition, we were looking for some other good young players from Rusinga to join the club.  We had sent letters to every school in Rusinga to send their best two players from 4th – 7th grade for the matches. 

In the morning we were at Kaswanga and played against Rusinga West.  Their organization wasn’t very good and our team took advantage to rout them 5-0, but it could have been much worse.  Theresa Atieno scored the first goal on a free kick and the second one also came on a free kick, this time from Winny Akinyi.  In the 2nd half goals followed from Lenser Adoyo, Brenda June and another one from Winny. 

Between games, as we were driving to the next destination, we stopped over at the Tom Mboya Mausoleum.  He is one of the most famous founding fathers of Kenya who was tragically assassinated in the streets of Nairobi in the early 1970’s.  We toured the museum, looked at the pictures and newspaper clippings and were taught by Mr. Mboya’s brother who is the caretaker there.  The girls also enjoyed some nice mangoes from the tree. 

In the afternoon, we found a much more organized and talented team at Kakrigu from Rusinga East.  By the time we arrived, the teachers were already with the players and preparing for the match.  They were aggressive and fast which caught our Mbita team by surprise.  Fortunately we managed to score in the 1st half on a cross from Winny Akinyi on the wing to Lenser Adoyo who was waiting for it on the other wing to put it in the net.  The Rusinga East team equalized shortly into the second half on a free kick.  By that point the Mbita team was getting tired after playing 90 minutes in the morning and the same amount in the afternoon, but they fought hard to get two late goals, one from Phylice Akoth and another from Brenda June to finish on top 3-1. 

After both matches, we had time to sit the teams down and share with them.  Teacher Lillian talked about making healthy choices in their lives that will help to build a better future.  I was able to use the EvangeCube to share the Gospel in simple terms and challenged them to reach out to Jesus who was ready to save them if they would ask him to forgive them for their sins and invite him into their lives.

It was a very successful day on the field and off the field for the Suba Lakers.  The young girls from Mbita and Rusinga had the opportunity to play and develop their talents.  They were encouraged and inspired physically, academically, socially and spiritually.  And we found a few good players in the process!

May 28, 2012

Coca Cola

On May 19th the Suba Lakers participated in the Coca Cola Tournament at Mbita High School. We were the only girls team from Mbita District invited. Our competition was Moi Girls Secondary School from Sindo where three of our girls are learning. It was supposed to be an Under 17 tournament, but as usually is the case in Kenya, they were not very strict with age. Those secondary school girls were considerably older than our mostly 6th and 7th graders. Competing against some of their older club teammates, the Lakers were a little hesitant at first, getting a feel for the game in the opening 10 minutes. But soon after, they settled in and took control of the match. Our young girls began dominating ball possession and created several chances, especially in the final minutes of the first half, but were unable to break through. The second half began like the first half ended and there was still no fruit for our hard labour. Against the grain of play, they got the ball into our box and one of our defenders handled it, giving them a penalty. Suba Laker Irine Achieng scored the penalty for Sindo just off the fingertips of our Goalkeeper Lillian Awuor. Undeterred, our young girls kept fighting and took back control of the game. A few minutes before time ran out Winny Akinyi beat the goalkeeper to a crossed ball and volleyed it over her head to tie up the score.

This time around there are no prizes in the coca cola tournament and the winning team doesn't advance (two years ago we reached the Provencal Semifinals). It is more like a talent search now so after the match they selected 9 of our players and 7 of the Sindo players (2 of our Suba Lakers) to form a team to move on to the next level next month. The club also got a set of long sleeve jerseys and a ball to take home with them, along with some good experience for their young players.

May 2, 2012

Football and Beyond

This year the KYFA Nationwide Ladies Tournament was much more than football. They were able to provide meals and accommodation so that all 20 teams could eat and sleep at the same venue. They had special programs every night and every morning. The team was“Football and Beyond.” They brought in successful young women to share with the girls. Their talks were challenging and inspiring to these young ladies. They encouraged them to be bold and learn to speak up when necessary. They talked about setting goals and working towards achieving them. As they shared their life stories, they also talked about the challenges and obstacles that girls in Kenya face, and how to overcome them. On the last night, each team performed a skit on how to “Overcome the Odds.” As an organization, we began the Suba Lakers to use football as a means to impact the lives of young girls physically, socially, academically and spiritually. It was great to be involved with a tournament that is trying to do the same thing.

Another “highlight” of the weekend was seeing a tournament actually uphold a standard of integrity. One of the semifinal teams brought in a new player on the last day for their semifinal match which was strictly against the rules. The new player actually scored the game winning goal, but afterwards the losing team lodged an official complaint. After investigating it was found to be true and the team was disqualified. It happened to be a local team and the coach incited the players to protest by not playing in the 3rd place playoff and instead sat on the field where the finals were supposed to be played. The local fans were also incited and threatened to throw stones and not allow the finals to begin unless their team was allowed to play. KYFA stood their ground and eventually an official was able to convince the team to leave the field so that the finals could take place. Most of the time in this country, corruption and cheating is just accepted with no consequence. It was good to see someone make a stand for truth and integrity, even if it meant making enemies with a local team and even local fans in favor of a team from outside the area. Maybe things are slowly starting to change in this country!

Nationwide Success

The Suba Lakers had two teams competing in the Kisumu Youth Football Association Nationwide Ladies Tournament over the weekend. Both teams placed third in their age categories, bringing home trophies, medals and prize money. .

The open age team lost their first match to Victoria FC 4-0 after giving up four goals in the second half on a rain soaked field at Kenyatta Sports ground in the opening match of the tournament. They bounced back later that day by thrashing Hatua Molo FC 12-0 with five goals from Dorothy Adhiambo. On Saturday morning they faced a tough task playing against one of the best secondary school teams in the country, Jera. In addition, three of the Suba Lakers were playing for Jera. A back and forth first half did not produce any goals until the last few minutes when Everline Moraa rocketed a shot past the goalkeeper. That was all the Lakers needed as they held on for a 1-0 win. In their final preliminary game, the Lakers scored a late second half goal on a penalty kick to draw with Kasagam 1-1. With 7 points, the Lakers finished 2nd in the pool and qualified for a semifinal encounter with Ibinzo from Western Province. Suba dodged several bullets in the first half and went into halftime 0-0. Unfortunately Ibinzo scored early in the second half and followed it up with 3 more to rout the Lakers 4-0. The Lakers qualified for 3rd place with a walkover. It is the first time the Suba Lakers have been able to finish in the top three in the KYFA Nationwide Tournament.

The Under 15 team dominated their pool, opening with a 4-3 win over Soccer Sisters from Nairobi on two goals by Brenda June and two more by Lucia Awino. They won their second match 3-1 over Kisum Leeds on goals by Theresa Atieno, Brenda June and Winny Akinyi. On the second day they settled for a 5-5 draw with reigning champions Victoria after giving up 2 late goals. In their final group game they defeated Shaurimoyo 4-1. They finished tied at the top of the standing with Victoria but were placed 2nd because they scored 1 less goal than Victoria. In the semis, they faced SEP from Oyugis and started off down 4-0, but recovered with 2 goals in the second half before running out of time to finish their comeback. In the third place playoff on Sunday morning they easily handled TYSA from Kitale 7 to 3 behind 4 goals from Winny Akinyi. A few of the teams brought secondary girls much older than 15, but our 6th and 7th graders competed favourably with all of the teams. It was a good experience for them and they have shown us that the Suba Lakers have a bright future ahead of them.

April 20, 2012

A Pat on the Back

After losing in the finals, I was pretty disappointed like most of the team. What really bothered me though was the way we lost. That morning, one of the players had been caught stealing from her teammates in the dorms. Several others were being lazy and didn’t want to come for warm-ups before the match. A couple of others were quarrelling with each other throughout the warm-ups. During the match our best player was supposed to be playing as a striker, but kept falling back in defense because she didn’t trust her teammates. Others got annoyed and angry after the first goal and just started kicking balls hard instead of passing while others tried to do everything themselves. At half-time several of the players weren’t listening to the head coach and were sitting away from the team looking in another direction while others were crying acting like the game was over already.

As I was sitting alone and thinking about all of that, God showed me something. He showed me the stark contrast between these other girls from different parts of the province and our Suba Laker girls. While all of that other stuff was going on, our six girls never had any problems in the dorms or with their teammates. In fact, they were always the ones helping out the chaperone and the team manager with various duties or chores. They were constantly working hard on and off the field and were always where they were supposed to be at the right time. They listened to their coaches, trusted their teammates and played good football. They didn’t lose hope when we fell behind, but kept on fighting hard throughout. They were trying to encourage their other teammates in a positive way. They showed the essence of what sports is all about. I would hate to think of what would have happened without them. It was the same with last year's team also.
God reconfirmed that the reason he has opened up these doors for me in sports here in Kenya is not just to win games and championships and produce national players, but to develop the character in these young ones by teaching them good values and morals. We have been doing that with our players in the Suba Lakers and I am now inspired to do it even more.

God can use sports powerfully to teach teamwork, goal-setting, self-confidence, obedience, respect and hardwork. It also helps relieve stress and pressure, promotes healthy lifestyles and encourages students to stay in school. At the same time, it can expose them to see new places, meet new friends and can open up doors for opportunities in the future academically and professionally.
After a tough loss, it was like God was giving me a pat on the back to show me that what I am doing is making a difference in the lives of these young ones. We are helping prepare them for a successful future in sports, school and life.