For almost three decades of hosting refugee communities in Kenya. Refugee education, access to health care services, access to public services, economic integration, social integration and refugee security have been the top priorities. All of these have been pushed by refugee advocates and activists. The true picture is that a big number of the issues have been realized though not to the full stretch. Economy & financial inclusion topping the list as the issues yet to be fully realized as refugees continues to struggle to get jobs or using financial services such as mpesa and bank services .The new refugee law recently signed by President Uhuru Kenyatta is said by many to be a chance to now give refugees more chances for better integration, read on the Bill and what it means to refugees in kenya here. However, the gap that stretches further is that of refugee inclusion in sports activities in host countries be it in football, volleyball or rugby or any sport you name it.
One can Comfortably gamble by taking a survey across a few districts in Nairobi. Only a handful of active refugee teams are formally operational. It does not mean that refugees are not talented in football or other sports activities just like the hosts nor does it mean that this community is not interested in sports. There is little progress in Advocacy and empowerment of refugee sports.
Here in Kenya professional refugee leagues are yet to be formed and would they be allowed or maybe how much investment or empowerment would be rained into them if they happen to be there.
To be honest, activities like sports are better ways of healing for communities like refugees.It is through sports that they can recover from the memories of their past dark stories. Sports will make them feel welcomed and accepted in what they can call a “new home”.
Nawezaa being a media and mentorship initiative has identified sports as a gap in refugee inclusion in Kenya, Nawezaa took a step that has not been identified by many to form a refugee sports wing:The Refugee United In Sports Initiative (RUIS) which primarily focuses on empowering refugee and hosts talents in different sporting activities like football, volleyball, badminton and marathon.
Lucky enough, the initiative has recently received funding from the Global Refugee Youth Network to host a football tournament for both refugees and hosts men and women footballers. The Ruis tournament will not only target refugees but also the host community
What does the Ruis Tournament entail?
Nawezaa sports flag RUIS was initiated primarily to advocate refugees talents in sporting activities. The RUIS tournament is the first major sporting event Nawezaa has staged since its inception.
The tournament is based on nurturing refugee talents in the sport of football for both the ladies and men. Under the tournament, Nawezaa seeks to attract participation of 70% urban refugee footballers and 30% host footballers, This seeks to answer the question of integration which has been the biggest cause of conflict and controversy as much as refugee and host interaction is concerned.
Kenyan interaction and relationships with refugees has been significantly improving for the past years. Kenyans are learning to see refugees as fellow Africans who are not here by choice but pushed by inevitable circumstances. The spirit of Africanacity has begun to tower among Kenyans who are now seeing refugees as part of their own despite a huge difference in the story line. RUIS is monumental in pushing this integration agenda and to strengthen relations between the host Community and refugees. By creating a tournament that puts the two communities under the same stage and also allowing host players to play under the same teams with refugees, That bond is strongly improved.
That means each team in the tournament both for the men and ladies is allowed to have a blend of both host and refugee players in its squad but just to attain the ultimate goal of refugee sports empowerment. Refugee players should be at least half of the full squad and exemptions to already made up teams that might be fully local. However, RUIS organizing team continues to encourage the teams to have a blend of the refugees and community to achieve the tournament goals of advocating and empowering refugees sports as well as strengthening local integration discourse.
How will the Tournament go down?
The tournament will begin on 9th April at the Ngong Posta Grounds where 16 ladies football teams and 16 men football teams will battle for the top prize. Matches will commence from round of 16 playoffs and proceed to the Quarter finals playoffs scheduled 16th April. The last 8 teams will proceed to the Semi finals which will be staged as playoffs on 7th May.
In addition, an extra match will be staged on May 14th between the two losing Semi finalists to determine the third slot team as the finalists will battle for the championship in the finals.
The Summit of the tournament will see the men’s and women’s finals played on the 14th May.
The Entire tournament will be scheduled for a span of three Months From March to May where the month of March will essentially involve activities of Mobilization and registration and info sessions with team managers. April and May will stage the tournament games on four Saturday dates of April 9th,16th and May 7th and 14th. The three months time span was arrived at to facilitate massive Mobilization and preparation of the tournament and teams. In addition, the flexibility of most players, some being students, was guaranteed during these specific months .Furthermore, RUIS also settled for the Round of 16 stage to involve 7 aside teams playing under 20 minutes per half. The rest of the stages will resume the normal Fifa playing time of 45 minutes per half with 11 players per opponent.
Nawezaa being a media social enterprise will broadcast the entire event by shooting videos, recording audios and writing articles. The entire broadcasts will be pushed through its website and Social media pages as well as project reporting.
The Broadcast is important since the existing talents will be exposed to potential sponsors or even interesting professional teams. Excellent players might stand a chance to be scouted and signed by professional teams under lucrative deals.
How will the teams and players benefit?
The RUIS tournament is seen as a dream come true for local players, essentially refugees. The Tournament benefits will go down as follows:
The final men’s and women’s champions will be crowned and handed a cash prize of: Ksh 20,000, second place Ksh 14,000 and third place 8,000 each.
- Champions will be handed RUIS certificates for each player for winning & for the team for participating.
- The Mens & Womens Champions will each be awarded with a trophy.
- All participating teams will also get a certificate of recognition & participation
- The finalists will be awarded with Nawezaa/RUIS branded T-shirts.
- Individual awards like men’s and women’s best players and top scorers will be awarded with certification to recognize their excellent performance.
- The participating teams will join the RUIS datasystem for potential support in future.
What are the objectives of RUIS?
RUIS is seeking to achieve big out of this.The main objectives being refugee sports empowerment and sports integration. RUIS Tournament further seeks to achieve more than that:
- Expose exceptional talents to local scouts that can earn them professional deals with professional football clubs.
- Empower refugee talent to an international level where they can get motivated to participate In the Refugee Olympic Team in the future or even one day represent their home countries in international football.
- Mentor young players by recruiting them to the official RUIS team.
- Offer small motivation to winning teams that can help the teams improve their running.
- Improve and strengthen integration between host and refugees through their interactions in the tournament.
In addition to this. RUIS seeks to use the tournament to spread the message of peace especially during the verge of upcoming General elections and also create more awareness as we continue to adapt living in the post-covid-19 Era.
Through the able management of the Nawezaa team and the project manager Genevieve Safari, Nawezaa aims to see this tournament as a Success and in no doubt continue the journey of sports empowerment and integration for refugees and hosts.
Call for applications
The process of Mobilization is currently underway and the registration process of the participating teams is scheduled to run till the 30,March. The tournament is primarily looking for teams within Nairobi region with inclusion of districts and Divisions of Dagoretti, Kasarani, Embakasi, Langata, Makadara, Umoja, Langata, Umoja, Huruma, Eastlands, Kibera, Westland, Kangemi and Mathare. Teams from the close suburbs of Nairobi like Kajiado, Ngong, Rongai, Kiserian, Kiambu, juja, Limuri, Githurai, Thika, Mutuini, Gitunguri ,Gikambura, Lari, Gatundu and Kinoo will also be allowed to participate. Only Teams that would have met the registration requirements will be guaranteed a slot in the tournament and thereby contacted.
RUIS hereby calls for more men’s and women’s under 27 football teams to register for this prestigious tournament.
To apply, follow the link:
On Friday, the RUIS tournament will be holding an Info Session, Join at 3pm to get your questions answered.
Use this link to join – RUIS Tournament – Q&A info Sessions
Friday, 25 March – 3:00 – 4:00pm
Google Meet joining info
Video call link: https://meet.google.com/jfv-hobi-smx
“Everybody is talented because everybody who is human has something to express”
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