March 30, 2014

Ball-Games Update: Base and Zonals

Primary School Ball-Games are underway. All our Suba Laker girls who are in primary school are participating and being great leaders on their school’s girls football teams.  The Club has about 20 girls in primary schools around Homabay County.

Phylice (CGA) leading her team at Base Games
For about the past 11 years Christ’s Gift Academy (CGA) has dominated Girls Football in the Primary School Ball-Games in Mbita District.  Years ago, CGA would beat the other school's teams by 5 or more goals.  Since the Suba Lakers Football Club started in 2009 that gap has been narrowing.  Much of the reason is that the club focuses on training some of the best players in the area, all whom go to various schools around the district.  Additionally, since the club began, other schools are now training their girls’ teams on a more regular basis. 

June (Usare) going for a free kick
At this year’s Mbita Base games for Primary Schools, it was a fierce competition.  Trying to win the title for the 12th straight year, CGA (with 2 Suba Lakers) ran up against a strong Usare Primary team in the finals.  Usare has 3 of the best Suba Lakers.  After a scoreless first half, Usare received a free kick about 30 feet out.  Suba Laker Brenda June kicked a perfect spot kick into the upper left corner of the goal beyond the outstretched arms of the CGA goalkeeper.  Usare added a 2nd goal a few minutes later to win 2-0 and qualify for the finals.  There they met with Mbita Primary who had a couple of their own Suba Lakers.  Usare had a tough time breaking through the Mbita defense of Eunice Anyango and Felistas Atieno (both Suba Lakers), but once again in the 2nd half Usare broke through for the deciding goal to take home the championship!  Nine of the players selected to move on to the Zonal competition were Suba Lakers.  It was encouraging to us to see the high level of competition displayed during the Mbita Base games.  It shows how far girls’ football has come in Mbita over the past few years.   

With 9 Suba Lakers on the selected team for Mbita Base, the Zonal Games were much less competitive.  The Mbita team trounced Obalwanda in the first match 5-0, and defeated Kirindo (with 2 Suba Lakers) in the finals on post-match penalty kicks 4-0.  Eleven Suba Lakers were selected for the Zonal team that is now preparing to play in the District competition this week.  There they will face off against several other Suba Lakers who play for Rusinga Island and the other zones.  From those different zones, we are sure to build a strong team (of mostly Suba Lakers) to compete at the Homabay County Ball-Games next weekend.  
Lillian (Usare) taking care of the goal- one of the best keepers in the Lake Region!

March 11, 2014

Preparing for Ball-Games

15 of our Primary School Girls reported last weekend for training.  With most of our Suba Laker girls now in high school, we only have about 15 remaining in primary school, almost entirely in 7th and 8th Grades.  Most of these girls have been with the club for at least 2 years, but many have even been with us for 3-5 years.  

The main purpose of the weekend was to prepare them for the Primary School Ball-Games which begin this month.  The preparation was more mental than physical. It is the favorite time of the year for our young girls, but also a very challenging time.  Currently each of them are playing for their school teams; 10 different primary schools.  Over the past month they have been competing in “friendly matches” against other school teams to prepare for the upcoming games.  During a 1-day mini-tournament, the local schools will compete against the other schools within their “Base”, usually 5-8 schools.  After that day, the best players are selected to represent the Base at the next level called Zonals.  After a few days of training, they play the Zonals matches.  The process continues, with only the best players advancing, for about 3 weeks.  These weeks are filled with 1 or 2 day tournament, selecting the best players, training for a couple of days and then another 1 or 2 day tournament.  The best players will continue to be selected through each level; including Bases, Zonals, Divisionals, Districts, Counties, Regionals and finally Nationals. 

All of our Suba Lakers have dreams of going to Nationals, but only a few will make it that far.  The others will stop playing at one of the lower levels.  This weekend, we tried to encourage the players to do their best for whatever team they are playing for and whatever level they are at, but if they don’t get selected for the next level, they should be thankful for the opportunity they had to play when so many other girls weren’t selected.  We used the example of one of the club’s best players and a recent high school graduate, Irine Achieng.  Even though she only made it to the district level in Primary School, she has turned out to be one of our best players over the last 5 years.  

We encouraged the girls to continue studying throughout the 2-3 weeks of ball-games.  Though much of that time they won’t be in school, they can still continue to study and make academics a priority over sports.  

Another advice we shared with them was to be careful of the boy football players which they will be around during ball-games.  Many of them have ulterior motives in befriending girls.  The boys are often much older and are just looking for younger girls to seduce.  We shared with the girls ways to protect themselves such as staying with larger groups and associating with boys during the daytime only and not at night.

We asked the girls about how they can show good character and set a good example for others.  Their responses included being friendly towards other girls from other places who are not part of the club; assisting the chaperone with cooking, fetching water, & cleaning; praying before and after games; not talking back to the referee; listening to their coaches and officials; and also being in the right places at the right times.  

The club was also able to give out some much needed items to the girls.  One of our officials, Bob, had brought back some items from Netherlands and another visiting team had also brought some things for the girls.  Each girl now has a good pair of football cleats which fits them well.  They all received school socks, a sports bra, a toothbrush and a sewing kit.  In addition, each player was able to pick a jersey, jacket or shorts for training.  

It was a very successful weekend in preparation for the Primary School Ball-Games.  The girls are excited for what lies ahead in the coming weeks.  In the past few years, at least 4-5 Suba Lakers have been among the 20 girls from the Nyanza Region who have been selected for Nationals.  This year with great players like June, Lillian, Winey, Lavender, & Lenser and others like Lucia, Phylice, Apeto and Mourine; the Suba Lakers are sure to have many representatives at Nationals!