Kenya’s youth make up 65% of the population with a bigger majority of these youth under the age of 18. Unemployment is the biggest challenge facing these young people with over 40% of those in the employment bracket unable to get proper jobs. This challenge brings on attendant problems in crime, HIV/AIDS and social conflicts. To mitigate these challenges, several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) intervene to uplift the welfare of the youth, sports is a popular avenue as it attracts young people.

Some of the NGOs promoting youth development through sports include the following – which are some of Kenya’s most important organizations that help keep the youth off the streets and the perils of drug addiction at youth – and here are 5 of the biggest players in the scene that do their role in protecting at-risk youth.

1. Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA)

MYSA is one of the oldest organisations working in the informal settlements of Nairobi. It was founded as a community-based initiative in 1987 in Mathare, which is the second biggest slum in Nairobi. MYSA uses different sports to bring the youth together the main sport being Football.

MYSA supports over 30,098 (Boys 20,107 and Girls 9,991) football teams in 234 Leagues across 16 zones. The organisation sponsors 15,000 matches each year. MYSA also supports a sports initiative in Kakuma refugee camp in North-Western Kenya.

2. Kicking AIDS Out

This is an international NGO that works in several African countries including Kenya. There are two main beneficiaries of this NGO’s support in Kenya. One is Moving the Goalpost in Kilifi at the Kenyan coast. This project supports young women and girls by empowering them through football to lift them from the vices that bring along HIV/AIDS and early pregnancies.

The other project supports MYSA which runs projects described above and also supports anti-child labour initiatives.

3. Seeds of Peace Africa (SOPA)

This is an international NGO that works in the conflict-prone areas to bring peace through several means including sport. This NGO works with other partners in Kenya including Amani Kibera which is a community-based organisation in Kenya’s biggest slum, Kibera. It also partners with Bo Girls another CBO that promotes girls’ boxing. Other partners include Carolina for Kibera, and Nuru Development centre.

4. Little Sports

This NGO targets young school going children and helps them build life skills through sports. The children in the program are 4-16 years of age. The organisation supports 90 minutes of play for each child every week by providing sports equipment, kit and infrastructure. Whether it’s on the pitch or it’s out on the streets on a bike, you can’t pump up a road bike tire if you don’t have the right equipment.

5. Children Peace Initiative

This NGO works to promote peaceful co-existence in Kenya’s violence-prone areas by supporting sports in young children. By having the children play together, the organisation believes they can form lifelong friendships and help other members from their communities come together.

The sad truth is that there will always be youth that will fall on the wayside – but if only one out of five fall, then that’s four youth that have made it. Chances that, by any other measure, would be an outstanding success.

What about you? What are YOU doing?