SHARON CHEPKEMOI is 18 years-old and female, but that hasn't stopped her becoming the head coach of an unbeaten football club for boys in her hometown, Kericho. In this interview, she tells ROBINS and DAN from her Cluster how the football team is also helping to keep the boys away from gambling and drugs...
Tell us about yourself! I grew up in a children’s home called Thomas Barnardo House. Growing up was both easy and tough. We had all our basic needs met and other children were friendly. But what I missed most was having someone to run to and share my feelings and concerns, since our caretaker ‘mom’ had to look after many other children. How did you end up being a football coach for a boys-only team? My cousin plays for one of the best football teams in Kenya, and he was the first person to get me involved in football coaching. He would show me the drills they used in his football academy, and he introduced me to a coaching book too. During the holidays most of the young people were idle and I too was idle. We started meeting to play football in the evenings and over the weekends with other boys, and this eventually turned into a football team. And since I had some experiences, I automatically was chosen to be their coach!
Your team has never been beaten in a match! What’s the secret behind your coaching and leadership skills? Respect is the principal thing. If you respect yourself the boys will respect you. The boys respect me because I respect myself. How has the football team been of value to the boys? Football positively engages the young men. It provides a platform for them to meet up and share their challenges. It also prevents boredom, since they always look to attend practice sessions. Some of them have kept off drugs while some of them are still working on quitting drugs. How could the Kericho Cluster be of importance to you and the team? I would like to receive support in providing talks and counselling on drugs and substance abuse as well as stress management and mental health. In fact, three young men from my locality committed suicide. It was attributed to drugs and substance abuse and failure to find alternative avenues to share their concerns. The law was catching up with them so they decided to end their lives. That’s sad. What are your personal aspirations? I dream of joining a national or international women’s football team. I hope to get a chance to join Harambee Starlets - Kenya’s national football team!
Learn more about Robins and Dan from this Custer in their own Q+As here and here.