Soccer is a way of life for many young boys and girls. Some play  because they love it and even dream of becoming professional footballers one day, but others use it as an escape — an escape from sadness, bullying,  abuse, and even hunger, because playing helps them forget their lack of food. Even others use the soccer field, and basic communications like asking for the ball from a teammate, as a place to express their emotions and have their voices heard.

But when a child comes to Horizon, the soccer field gets to be what it was made for: a playground. Horizon has provided a safe haven for these children. Places like soccer fields are no longer escapes, but spaces for play giving kids the opportunity to be the children they are. 

Joseph Mwangi is one of those soccer-loving kids. He recently joined high school — which means he’s left home to attend a boarding high school — and is thriving both inside and outside the classroom. Joseph loves soccer very much. When he is home, he plays with his younger siblings at Baba Nyumbani. Their competitions at the micro community almost always result in a win for Joseph’s team!

It’s Joseph’s 1st term in high school and he’s already made it to the school’s main football team, playing as a defender. Their team won a recent tournament, and the look of excitement on Joseph’s face was priceless.  The games master in school is even considering making him the team captain! 

As a reward for being the winning team, Joseph’s team received a goat from the school principal. They later enjoyed a special barbecue, Nyama choma, together. His parents, Walter and Alice and his brothers and sisters at Baba Nyumbani are very proud of him and the young man he is becoming. 

But Baba Nyumbani isn’t the only soccer-loving community — children at Maono light enjoy the game too. Martin, a community staff member, coaches the kids at Maono Light as well as kids from the neighborhood. Coach Martin, or “Mato” as the kids call him, have improved the kids’ skills in the game so much that, in a recent “friendly match” in the community,  they not only scored for the first time, but won!  Their joy was beyond measure to experience that win.

Sometimes the little things aren’t little at all.  An impromptu “friendly match” with friends may mean more than a big stadium with bright lights ever will.