Improving SRHR Uptake in Dagoretti through Sports

by Amref Health Africa

Here is the story of Kiki Masika, a talented football player who has earned the nickname “Messi” due to her outstanding defensive skills on the field. Her journey from a young girl growing up in Mombasa County to becoming a rising star in Dagoretti Mixed High School and beyond is a remarkable tale of how sports, particularly football, profoundly impacted her life. Kiki’s story is not just about scoring goals but also about how football became a catalyst for transformation and personal growth.

Kiki’s love for football began to flourish from a very young age during her primary school days in Mombasa. During this time, her present coach, Mr. Orao, discovered her talent in the Dagoretti sub-county. After completing her primary education, Kiki was fortunate to receive a four-year scholarship to attend Dagoretti Mixed High School (DMHS), which allowed her to pursue both her academic and athletic aspirations.

The Covid-19 pandemic temporarily halted Kiki’s football journey during her first year in high school. However, in Form 2, her resilience prevailed, and she found solace and empowerment in the DMHS team, supported by the Sports for Health project through Amref Health Africa in Kenya.

Kiki shares how the project provided a safe space for adolescent girls, teaching vital life skills. Workshops covered topics such as hygiene, menstrual hygiene management, teen pregnancies, contraception, and sexual gender-based violence, particularly prevalent in informal settlements.

“Through the Sports for Health project, we access peer champions. They come during tournaments and matches to share various health topics with us. The team members range from 10-19-year-olds: the younger ones have sessions on hygiene as they transition into adolescence, and the older ones have sessions on teenage pregnancies, contraception and mental health.” Kiki adds.

The project uses an edu-sports approach led by trained peer champions and sports coaches. This creates a safe space for adolescents and youth to discuss sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) issues affecting them and boosts their well-being, confidence, self-esteem, and access to educational and vocational opportunities. In addition, there is an increase in the integration of SRHR and SGBV services at health facilities.

As a football player, Kiki’s journey has extended beyond local fields. She has played for the Kenya National Women’s team (Harambee Starlets), representing Kenya against Uganda, and travelled to countries like Ethiopia, Angola, and Tanzania. Kiki’s ambitions go beyond the boundaries of the pitch. She envisions a full-time football career after completing her national high school exams. Already identified by the Tanzanian team, she plans to play for a season before exploring other opportunities. She is already a peer coach being mentored by her coach in the project. 

She has a dream that goes beyond the boundaries of her current role as a player. After retiring from playing, she aspires to become a referee, a path that she is actively pursuing under the mentorship of her coach and the national team.

Before hanging up her boots, Kiki aspires to play for international leagues, and her eyes are set on teams like Barcelona, Liverpool, and Manchester United women’s teams. Her coach, who emphasizes discipline on and off the field, has instilled values that extend to her life. Kiki has learned valuable lessons in financial literacy, a crucial aspect of life that her coach has imparted knowledge on managing finances responsibly.

Her journey is a testament to the transformative power of sports and SRHR initiatives. Growing up in a challenging environment, Kiki’s story is an inspiration to many, as she has overcome numerous obstacles to become a beacon of hope and inspiration. Her coach’s mentorship and the support of her community have played a vital role in her success.

Kiki’s entrepreneurial spirit has already borne fruit, as she has ventured into investments, owning a tuk-tuk in Mombasa that generates profits supporting her family and personal aspirations. Her journey exemplifies the potential for positive change when young lives are nurtured through passion, education, and community support.

Author: Nyambura Gitonga, Communications, Amref Health Africa in Kenya.

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