Play the Game Award 2015
Photo: Thomas Søndergaard/Play the Game
Founded by the Canadian Bob Munro in 1987, Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) has been working in the slums of Mathare outside Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, for almost 30 years using sport and particularly football to give young people the skills and confidence to improve their lives.
MYSA is run by and for the young people who take part in its activities, and its around 30,000 members combine their passion for sport with a strong community commitment working with health, education and other development activities.
For this work, the Play the Game Award 2015 on Wednesday went to Bob Munro and MYSA at the Play the Game 2015 conference held in Aarhus, Denmark.
In his motivation speech, Play the Game’s International Director, Jens Sejer Andersen, summed up the reasons for giving the award to Bob Munro and Mathare Youth Sports Association:
“MYSA has created a sustainable framework for the use of sport to promote social progress, environmental protection, education, individual self-esteem, team spirit, health protection including HIV/AIDS awareness – and, by the way, a successful professional football team, Mathare United,” Andersen said and continued:
“Bob Munro may be the chairman and main catalyst of this development, but it is the youth of Mathare who ensures that this vision is becoming reality under harsh living conditions, marked by poverty, violence, shootings and crime.”
In his speech, Andersen also emphasised the ongoing fight against corruption in Kenyan football and MYSA’s success in creating an independent Premier League run by lawful and transparent business and administration operations.
“It has taken tireless work to lead the battle against the many thieves that had taken possession of the Kenyan Football Federation, and it comes at a considerable risk. For whatever reasons Bob Munro has received several death threats over the years. Apparently they have not been carried out successfully,” he said.
Jens Sejer Andersen also touched on the challenge that MYSA faced, when a private Norwegian foundation supporting MYSA financially decided to pull its support declaring that they did not feel MYSA was taking allegations of sexual assaults and corruption seriously. This came as a temporary blow to MYSA’s economy and reputation, but having carefully revised the publically accessible information, including documents published on MYSA’s homepage and critical analyses in the Norwegian media, Play the Game’s decision has not been affected by it.
“We have asked ourselves one question: Are we convinced beyond any reasonable doubt, on the basis of the information we have access to, that MYSA’s leaders do every effort they possibly can to safeguard their members and secure that the policies and guidelines are carried out. Our answer is a resounding ‘yes’,” Jens Sejer Andersen said, before handing over the award to Bob Munro.
“So for their admirable efforts to create sustainable social progress, for their courageous battle against corruption in sport, and for their continuous fighting spirit and belief in humanity, we are proud to hand over the Play the Game 2015 award to Bob Munro and Mathare Youth Sports Association.”
Read the entire motivation speech