Saturday 28th Witnessed RUIS Finals showdown at Kabiria Primary Fields. Refugee-dominated UNITY FC emerged the men’s champions after a 1 – 0 win over Kikuyu All stars as PC Kinyanjui floored Royal Divas 2 – 0 to clinch ladies top spot.
The Finals organized by Nawezaa in Partnership with Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) opted to pick Kabiria Primary school for the Finals to attain a public exposure since the fields are located in a community setting.
Unity FC, a Ruiru-based Grassroot team dominated by South Sudanese Refugee players, proved exceptional talent since the start of the event as they knocked out top teams like Five Rivers, and 99 FC. They only needed a goal in the tough Final to kiss the trophy.
In the Ladies c ategory, PC Kinyanjui a grassroot team from Riruta was no surprise winner as they had won heavily in their previous fixtures with goals ranging from one to four. The “tiki taka” style girls under their coach Joseph Nyakundi played stylish football that made them a cynosure of the entire tournament. Opponents had a tough time playing against the blue girls.
Men and Ladies Winners each bagged a cash prize of ksh 20,000, 14,000 for the Runners up and 8,000 for the third place. Additionally RUIS awarded jerseys to the Finalists and balls each for the fourth place teams. Each participant was also recognized with a certificate of participation.
Awarding was not the only good thing from the tournament, refugee players hailed RUIS as the first tournament they participated which specifically engaged Refugee players. They took this as unprecedented achievement and hoped for many such platforms in the future that embrace refugee talents in sports and advocate for refugee inclusion in Kenyan football.
In the country, there are currently no formal active refugee leagues so far. RUIS has promised a good hope for this dream. Refugees would love to play and nature their talents just like the host community but lack of inclusion in the country’s sporting stage and advocacy for refugee sports has left them lagging behind. We have seen how refugees empowered in sports can do wonders with the likes of newly Crowned UEFA champions League winner Eduardo Camavinga of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies who is also a UNHCR sports ambassador.
The two Finals played on Saturday attracted the attention of the community and leaders propelling refugee matters within the community level who have also been on the forefront in advocacy of grassroot refugee issues.
The RUIS tournament achieved numerous successes and one of its major breakthroughs was a campaign for peace during the verge of elections in Kenya. The tournament engaged banners, placards and flyers with peace messages while players were awarded with jerseys bearing the theme of peace.
“Unity through sports, Sports for peace”
Another milestone of RUIS was integration between the host community and refugees.
“We can see the host community embracing refugees playing with them as their fellow brothers, they have chosen to ignore the aspect of ethnic origins and embraced refugees as their fellow African family, Africanacity has indeed won. It is very difficult to distinguish between refugee and host players since they are playing with a lot of good chemistry. Some teams even have a blend of both refugees and host community”, McCreadie Andias, RUIS communications Officer said prior to an interview with UNHCR.”
“Kenyans are now learning that refugees are not here by choice but by inevitable circumstances of plight and crisis that have torn their countries apart leaving them with no option but to flee for safety”, McCreadie added.
“Integration has been achieved by RUIS“
RUIS exposed impressive talents to the limelight, talents that had been hidden for long. A lot of refugee players proved how talented they are in football and given the opportunity they could shine like any other players.
The well organized tournament received massive appreciation from the community. RUIS seeks to host more tournaments in the future with support from different organizations and stakeholders this can be a great success.
Nawezaa, the primary organizer of the RUIS tournament congratulates UNITY FC and PC Kinyanjui, the RUIS Men’s and Ladies’ champions.