December 28, 2014

Happy New Year

Our Mission is to give HOPE for a better future. 

During this time of the year, we reflect on the greatest gift of hope; the birth of Jesus our Savior!  Through Jesus, there is hope for our world; hope for even the most vulnerable.  

The Suba Lakers Football Club continues to serve the most vulnerable in the area around Mbita, Kenya.  Our goal is to provide opportunities for girls to develop their God-given talent in football.  Yet our goals go way beyond football.  We desire to see each girl build positive self-esteem, have good character, stay in school and grow spiritually. 

Over the past year we have seen how a little bit of hope has gone a long way...

15 primary, 30 secondary and 7 college students participated in the club's various activities.

9 girls finished primary school; 8th grade.  (In Mbita District, only 43% of girls complete primary school.)

6 girls finished secondary school; 12th grade.  (In Mbita District, only 16% of girls complete secondary school.)

6 primary girls were selected to play at Nationals, and WON, creating history!! (read the story)

2 secondary girls led their school team to qualify for Nationals! (read the story)

It is our prayer that the club will continue to provide hope to these girls.  While developing their football skills and participating in tournaments to gain competition experience, great focus is also placed on each girl continuing their education and finishing secondary school! Read a letter of gratitude written by some of our girls in secondary school.

Will you partner with us by giving a one-time financial gift?  Donate Today!

When you give a tax-deductible year-end gift, you are helping to bring HOPE to these girls, for this life and for eternity!

Give a donation online today!

We are grateful for all who have supported the club's activities in the past.  Our dedicated officials are working hard to explore partnership opportunities within Kenya but we still need your continued support!

December 10, 2014

December Break Friendly Match

In Kenya, the long school holiday falls during the last couple of weeks in November and continues through the entire month of December.  This provides the club with a lot of time to work with the girls, especially the ones that are usually away boarding at their various secondary schools. This time gives the girls positive activities to keep them occupied, catch up with old friends, stay in shape, and continue developing their soccer skills.  We also try to utilize this time to teach the girls some life skills and help them grow in other ways.  
This past week, after the club had some excellent training sessions with the girls, they traveled to Nyamira (about 3 hours from Mbita) for a high profile friendly match.  Their competition was with a team that used to play in the Kenya Women’s Premier League, the Sotik Queens.  
The Suba Lakers thrashed the Queens 5-0.  

It was a match to behold.  The Lady of the match was Dorothy Adhiambo.  The soon to be 4th year secondary school girl from Mfangano Island scored twice in the first half to give the Lakers an insurmountable lead.  Other goal scorers on the day were Alicent, Emily and Belinda who moved up from her defensive position to play the right forward position.  Primary school 8th Grader Lencer Adoyo was brilliant in the defense.  
Everything went well and the girls went home very happy to celebrate Christmas with their families.  We thank God for his blessings throughout this year!

November 15, 2014

Suba Laker Day Nov 2014

Around 30 Suba Lakers and 5 Officials gathered today for our Suba Laker Day!

We host these days three times a year to bring together as many of our club members as we can and give the primary girls a chance to interact with our secondary girls and college girls who are usually away at school.  It is not always possible for all of the girls to make it because of different school closing dates, family responsibilities and other commitments, but fortunately a majority of them are able to attend.  

We were able to collect their report forms and record their academic results and have a good time of training in the morning.  In the afternoon we invited guest speakers to share with the girls some encouragement and motivation.  The girls also competed against each other in an intrasquad friendly match.  

The day ended with the club presenting certificates to the nine 8th Graders commemorating their completion of the primary school Suba Lakers program.  Congratulations to all our 8th graders!

November 1, 2014

8th Grade Prayer Day

Today was a special day of prayer for our 9 Suba Lakers who are preparing to take their 8th Grade National Exams next week.  It is a big moment in the lives of these young girls.  In Mbita District only 43% of the girls end up finishing primary school, but with the Suba Lakers we pride ourselves in helping every one of the girls who are part of the club to finish 8th grade and move on to high school.  Each of the 9 girls taking their exams this year has a story to tell and many doubters who thought they would not be able to reach this far.  Through hard work and perseverance, they have made it to the end of this stage of their lives and how they do on these exams will determine if and where they are able to continue their education.  
The 8th Grade National Exam is the culmination of eight years of primary school wrapped up into a 3-day test in Math, English, Kiswahili, Science, Social Studies and Christian Religious Education.  All of the exams are multiple choice, except for compositions in English and Kiswahili.  Over 850,000 students around the country will be taking the same exam.

This class of Suba Lakers is extra special to us because they have been with the club for a long time, and have accomplished much on and off the field.  Lavenda Oguta and Lucia Awino have been with the club since it began back in 2009 and Lavenda has gone to primary school Nationals 4 straight years.  Winny started with the club in 2010 and has been selected for Nationals the past 3 years.  Lillian joined in 2011 and has been to Nationals the past couple of years.  June and Eunice also joined in 2011 and were selected for Nationals this past year.  Nancy, Sharon and Niphrid have also been valuable members of the club on and off the field for the past couple of years.  Five of these 8th Graders were selected to play at Nationals this year and made history by leading the Lake Region team to the National Championship for the first time ever.

Today the club officials took time out to get together with these special girls and commit them and their exams before the Lord.  We are confident that each of them has the ability to do well on these exams and join secondary school in the coming months.  Please be praying for them during this time!

August 9, 2014

Suba Laker Day Aug 2014

Today all of the Suba Lakers gathered for their Suba Laker Day.  

Three times a year, during the school holidays, all of the primary school girls, secondary school girls and college girls get together for a day of training, food, teaching and competition.  On this day, the girls said goodbye to Joe and Daneen Peterson, who are moving back to America.  Joe was the co-founder of the club, along with Paul Onundo, and has been the head coach and secretary since the club began back in 2009.  

The training was a tough physical one in the hot equatorial sun, but the girls worked hard and had great attitudes.  After lunch, the girls heard a very inspirational talk from a successful woman in the community called Mrs. Lucy Ondari, and then competed in a scrimmage.  

The day ended with the club handing out awards and trophies to girls for various honors.  

Those that were honored were:

Team Spirit Medal - Lillian
Most Improved Player Medal - Apeto (primary) and Jacinter (secondary)
Christian Character Award - Niphrid (primary) and Mary Lucy (secondary)
Leadership Most Courageous Award - Lavenda (primary) and Faith (secondary)
Hardest Worker Award - June (primary) and Bismark (secondary)
Most Coachable Award - Alicent

July 22, 2014

Champions at Last!

For the first 3 years of high school, Belinda Awuor and Judith Mayor have played on great teams which always reached the Semifinals in the Secondary School Regional Ball-games.  But each year they fell just short of the championship. In the first two years, they lost by a goal in the semifinals.  Last year they came even closer by drawing in regulation and in extra time before narrowly losing on penalty kicks.  That was the most painful loss because they played so well and came so close; and for Judith it was even more painful because she missed a penalty kick that could have won it for them. 

This year they were determined to become champions in their final year of high school.  Judith was named the team captain and Belinda was definitely the spiritual/emotional leader of the team.  Just like in past years, they again helped Gekomoni Secondary School cruise to easy victories in the Zonal competitions, as well as the Sub-County and County tournaments.  They reached the Regional Tournament with a lot of confidence, but even more determination 

To understand their level of determination, it is important to flashback to their childhood... 

Both girls grew up as orphans, being raised by single mothers who struggled to provide for their big families.  During primary school, Judith and Belinda both made some bad choices which brought even more challenges into their lives.  Growing up in those situations, it was difficult for them to attend school regularly which greatly affected their academic performance.  The opportunity to play football helped motivate them to stay in school.  Eventually they reached 8th Grade and were able to take the National Exams.  When they received their results, they were far below the pass mark.  Their parents/guardians, as well as the Suba Laker Club Officials, wondered if that would be the end of their education.  Since most secondary schools don’t take students with low National Exam scores, everyone was concerned that these girls might have no option except to get married at a young age and begin a family.  It is a fate that many girls in this region accept because of various circumstances.  These two girls were not ready give up though! 

Fortunately for them, they had a talent in football.  Because of their ability, a coach from Kisii called the Suba Lakers and said he would help find a school for Belinda and Judith.  Not only did he find them a school, but he also offered to pay their school fees; all because they were good in football.  They were given the opportunity to continue playing football, but more importantly, to continue in their education. 

Four years later in 2014, they are now in their final year of high school and getting one more chance to win the Championship.  In the Regional Tournament, Gekomoni dominated their pool in the preliminaries by defeating Nyahera 1-0 in the opening game and then thrashing St. Gema 4-0 in their 2nd game.  Having already won their pool, they lost a meaningless third game 1-0.   They had reached the semifinals for the fourth consecutive year.  In the Semifinals against Ugari, Judith atoned for last year’s failure by placing a free kick over the heads of the defenders which allowed the Gekomoni striker to outrun them and score a goal towards the end of the first half.  They held on for a 1-0 victory and had finally qualified for the Championship Game! 

For the Finals match, they were pitted against last year’s runners-up, Nyakach Girls High School.  Nyakach had won their pool and easily won their semifinal 3-0 which had led many people to pick them as the odds-on favorite.  Gekomoni didn’t worry about what others thought and came out fighting in the Finals, playing their best game of the tournament.  They showed more aggressiveness and created multiple opportunities to score, but the cross-bar and the Nyakach goalkeeper thwarted their efforts each time.  Judith was the team orchestrator in central mid-field, while Belinda was the defensive stopper that no ball could pass.  Eventually, the match went into extra time, but neither team managed to score.  This championship to determine which team would represent the Lake Region at Nationals would come down to post-match penalty kicks. 

The Gekomoni goalkeeper had a great tournament, only allowing 1 goal in 5 games.  She stepped up even more in the post-match penalty shootout by not only blocking 3 shots, but also by converting her own penalty kick.  Gekomoni took the trophy by winning 3-2 in penalty kicks.  The team and their fans celebrated by picking up Belinda and carrying her on their shoulders.  It was a glorious moment for both Judith and Belinda after having come up short in their first three tries. 

In early August, they will travel with the Gekomoni team to Kakamega for the Kenya National Secondary School Finals.  It will be the 3rd straight year that the Lake Region representative will be led by Suba Laker players.  If Judith and Belinda continue on with that same determination and perseverance, they will be successful at Nationals, but even more importantly, they will be able to graduate high school and be successful in life! 


June 12, 2014

A Letter from Mawego Girls Suba Lakers

This is a letter delivered to a Suba Laker Official, written by 5 Suba Lakers who attend the same school, Mawego Girls Secondary School.

March 2014

Dear Suba Lakers,

We, as the family of Suba Lakers of Mawego Girls, would specifically want to thank you for the support that you have given us ever since we met. We were happy to see our fellow new members who came to join us together so as to build our football team [at school].

Immediately the schools were opened, we sat for exams. The results are yet to be released in the course of the next week. We are requesting that you pay us a visit so that you also know where we are learning at and discuss with our teachers about our progress. We are striving to go through education system as a family so that we fit in this competitive world that is continually changing.  Our main aim and hope is quality and to go to university.

We should continue to appreciate any form of support given to us so that we don’t let our God given talent go away, but we know that as we have joined our hands together as a family member of Mawego Girls from Suba Lakers, we will work harder so that our fellow students also gain something from us.

Our new members [Jacinta and Cynthia] are proud to tell you that they received a warm welcome when they reported to school. They were impressed with the facilities available in school and we hope that the situation will be better as time goes by.  Other members of Suba Lakers such as Brenda June, Lilian Awuor, Winnie Akinyi, who will complete their primary education by next year, we wish them to join us at Mawego Girls to form a strong team which will make us qualify to the National level.

We once again like to thank you for everything you have done to us and we know that before God all things will be okay.

Yours faithfully,
Mawego Girls Suba Laker Family
Purity, Faith, Winnie, Jacinta & Cynthia

May 14, 2014

KYFA 2014: A Battle with Top Teams

The Suba Lakers participated in the Kisumu Youth Football Association (KYFA) Nationwide Ladies Tournament during the weekend of April 25-27, 2014.   Some of the top teams from all over the country traveled to Kisumu to compete.  Since the Kenya Women’s Premier League hasn’t yet started this year, many Premier League teams flocked to the tournament.  In addition to great football, KYFA does an excellent job of bringing in successful women to share with the girls.  Throughout the 3-day tournament, speakers discussed many topics which affect young girls in Kenya today.  This year, the club took two teams to compete in both tournament categories; Under 15 and Open Age.

On the field, our Under 15 team showed great skill and teamwork on the smaller pitch designed for the 7 v. 7 competition.  Though many of the other teams used players who were over the age of 15, our Suba Lakers were young girls with great potential.  In their first match they defeated Ojol 2-0 on goals by June Brenda and Joan Onunya.  In the 2nd match, they ran into a tough team from Western Province called the Wiyeta Bee’s.  The Bee’s scored early on from a free kick, but Phylice Akoth equalized in the 2nd half.  The Lakers had a flurry of chances in the closing minutes, but had to settle for a 1-1 draw.  In the first match of the 2nd day, we played the Soccer Angels from Nairobi.  The two teams were tied atop the pool coming into the game.  The Angels were a very mature and experienced team who have played together for many years.  They were the favorites coming into the tournament.  They were shocked when the Suba Lakers came out aggressively and dominated the 1st half.  Unfortunately towards the end of the half, one of the Angel strikers collected a rebound from the goalkeeper and kicked a laser into the back of the net.  They didn’t get many other chances because of great defense from Lakers Jecinter Atieno and Florence Wangoi.  The 2nd half continued similarly to the first half and the Lakers hit the post multiple times but couldn’t score.  Even in the final minute, the Lakers created two great chances which ultimately didn’t produce a goal.

After the Angels match, the Suba Lakers protested the opponents’ age.  The KYFA officials met and concluded that 2 of their players were overage and would be ineligible for the remainder of the tournament, but they said the results of our match would not be changed.  Led by midfielder Felistas Atieno, the Lakers took out their aggression on their final preliminary opponent Asol with a resounding 6-0 victory.  In the four games, Lakers Goalkeeper Lourine Awuor played so well and only allowed 2 goals, and saving many near goals, but the 2 that were scored were costly.  At the end of the pool matches, we finished 1 point behind 2nd place and thus didn’t qualify for the Semifinals. 

In the Free Age category, our girls battled hard.  Several of our top Suba Lakers were not able to play with us in the tournament because of injuries, home responsibilities, and a few were also playing with their secondary school teams.  That gave opportunities for some of the other players to step into their roles and get a chance to gain some valuable experience against strong competition.  In the first match, we were pitted against the pre-tournament favorite and Kenyan Premier League team, Thika Queens.  We held them scoreless until the final minute of the 1st half.  They controlled possession and added a 2nd goal in the second half to win 2-0.  In the next match, we played a strong Wiyeta Bee’s team who took control in the opening half, but with some great saves from Suba Laker Goalkeeper Lillian Awuor, they couldn’t score.  After a rousing half-time speech, the Suba Lakers responded with a spirited 2nd half passing the ball and communicating much louder.  In extra time, the Bee’s were awarded a penalty kick, but Lillian made a great diving save to preserve a barren 0-0 draw.  The 3rd game produced the same result, 0-0, against Suba Laker Rivals, Kisumu Leads United.  In our final preliminary match, we played another rival, Kobala.  The Kobala team captain, Caren Akeyo, is a Suba Laker who grew up under the club.  She played hard defense against her sisters and made life difficult for the Suba Lakers.  Kobala scored 1 goal on a keeper’s error and desperately tried to hold on to the lead so they could qualify for the Semifinals.  We had several great opportunities to score in the 2nd half, but never managed to put one in.  We finished 4th in the pool of 6 teams. 

Though both of our teams were now out of the tournament, we scheduled a friendly match against our friends from Jera Secondary School for the following day.  We mixed in some of our Juniors with the older players and had a lot of encouragement from the bench.  We finally scored our 1st goal of the tournament (for the Open Age team) on a beautiful cross from Damaris Awino into Dorothy Adhiambo. The friendly match ended in a loss of 3-1 but the girls gave a great effort and enjoyed the entire weekend. 


April 22, 2014

Making History as National Champions!

For the first time in history…  

The Western part of Kenya has always been known as the birthplace of football in the country.  Most of the best football players in the country come from the Western Region or the neighboring Lake Region.  Footballers from this area have a long history of dominance in the professional ranks of Kenyan Football in the top 2 premier league teams (Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards). 

In the Primary School Ball-games, the Lake Region boys have really dominated the country in football, especially in recent years.  They have won the championship 6 times in the past 10 years.  The girls from Lake Region have always been equally as talented, yet they had never won the championship before this year.  The reasons are not clear, but maybe it was due to tribal differences on the team (Kisii and Luo tribes), or a lack of good discipline or poor coaching.  For the Primary School Ball-games, the coaches select the best players from the different counties within their region.  They train them for one week before participating in the National Tournament which lasts for 3 days.  It is not easy to carry out a proper/fair selection of the best players from the entire region and then teach them how to play together as a team in such a short amount of time. 

In recent years, Suba Laker coach Joe Peterson has been assisting Head Coach Job Ochoki in training and coaching the girls for the National Ball-games.  In 2011 and 2012 they helped lead the team to the National Finals, but lost both of those matches.  Last year, 2013, they reached the semifinals, but were eliminated at that point. 

Many felt that 2014 could be the year the girls finally win it all.  Most of the girls from last year had returned and were now in their final year of primary school (8th Grade).  Also, the Lake Region was the host for the National Ball-games.  With experienced players and crowd support, the team was very optimistic. 

Of the 18 players on the team, 10 hailed from Homa Bay County, including 6 Suba Lakers.  This was the 4th time Lavenda Acheing had reached Nationals, 3rd time for Winny Akinyi, 2nd time for Lillian Awuor, and the first time for Eunice Anyango, Lencer Adoyo and June Brenda.  This disciplined and experienced group of players was the backbone of the Lake Region team.  They quickly made friends with the other girls from different places and different tribes.  Lavenda was elected the team leader and Winny the team pastor, leading the team in prayers before and after every training session.  They demonstrated to the other girls the importance of training hard and good preparation.  Many of the other girls acted a bit lazy and complained of sickness or injury to avoid practice, but the Suba Laker Girls came to the field ready to train hard and do whatever the coach asked of them.  Because of that commitment and hard work, 5 of the 6 earned their way in the starting lineup by the time the tournament began. 

In our first match with perennial power Western Region, we played on a sloppy, rain-soaked field that led to many defensive blunders.  Lake Region scored 2 early goals to go up 2-0, but Western answered with 2 of their own later in the 1st half.  Just before halftime the girls managed 1 more to go into the break with a morale booster.  The girls added 3 more in the 2nd half for a convincing 6-2 victory over the team that eliminated them the previous year in the semifinals.  With such a large goal differential in the first match, we were able to play many of our substitutes in the 2nd match against Aberdares Region, and still managed to win 3-0 and finish on top of the group. 

In the semifinals we faced a big and strong Nakuru Region team.  We scored half-way through the opening half and held on for a 1-0 victory.  That win qualified us for the Finals.

On the championship day, our girls exuded much confidence with the home fans surrounding the field and supporting them enthusiastically. From the opening kick of the Finals against defending champs Nairobi Metropolitan, the Lake Region girls controlled the ball possession and displayed great teamwork.  Their good play resulted in 4 great chances to score in the opening half, but each time they created a chance, a very talented and aggressive Goalkeeper from Nairobi Metropolitan thwarted their bid.  As the 2nd half played out, Nairobi resorted to kicking balls out and feigning injuries to waste time.  Regulation time ended with a scoreless draw and the game went for 20 minutes of extra time.  As the players from both teams got worn down physically, scoring chances opened up, but the two goalkeepers proved up to the challenge.  The match ended without a goal, so it would be up to post-match penalty kicks to determine the National Champion. 

The Lake Region Goalkeeper, Lillian Awuor, is an excellent keeper in every way, but is especially skilled against penalty kicks.  During the Primary School Ball-games over the past month, Lillian has won all 17 games her team has played.  Three of those games were Finals that came down to post-match penalty kicks.  Only 3 people in those games were able to get the ball past her.  In the County Finals, she saved every penalty kick that was shot.  She was determined to win the National Trophy, but Nairobi’s keeper was a very formidable opponent. 

Asher Atieno and Winny Akinyi scored their penalties for the Lake Region team, but the pivotal moment was when Goalkeeper Lillian Awuor scored against her counterpart.  It gave her the psychological edge needed and helped our girls have faith that they would take the day.  Lillian saved the 5th and final kick to preserve a 3-2 win for the Lake Region as the fans stormed the field jumping, screaming and dancing.  
Check out this video of the celebration:

It was a magical moment for all of Lake Region to stake their claim as the National Champions in the Primary School Ball-games for both the girls and the boys!