17 teams from Kisumu County and Siaya County participated in the first handball tournament hosted by our community partner EmpowerGirlsPlus (EGP) in Kisumu, western Kenya. It was an exciting day for the players and the host organisation. “This was the first time we organised a tournament for teams outside our community.  We made it a one-day event since it was our very first one. Some of the things might have not happened as we expected, but all in all we feel grateful and happy”, tells Ruth Moody – Director of EmpowerGirlsPlus. 300 participants attended the tournament, including relatives of the players. Four school teams and three community teams, which are part of EmpowerGirlsPlus’ sports activities in the community of Kisumu, competed in the tournament.

PlayHandball Kenya (PHKE) supported the tournament with funds to purchase refreshments for the players, as well as needed utensils and equipment for the tournament. In addition to our help and the help of our former volunteer Léon, EPG was also able to mobilise local support to run the tournament in line with Covid-19 regulations. The Kisumu County Governments Sports Department provided two temperature-shooting guns to take the temperature of the players and visitors, the Gender and Social Department and the business community contributed sanitary towels. Through this donation, all adolescent girls present, including non-players, received sanitary pads. “For many girls sanitary towels are a luxury, they cost money that the family does not have. Instead of going to school, the girls stay at home while they are menstruating”, explains Carol Nange, coordinator of PlayHandball in Kenya.

PlayHandball has been supporting EmpowerGirlsPlus to develop handball for girls and in schools in the Kisumu area since 2018. The aim of EGP is to empower girls in the Kisumu community. Therefore, the organisation works with PlayHandball to introduce handball programmes that strengthen participants’ social skills and give them prospects. PlayHandball helps EGP with capacity building workshops, equipment and also volunteers. As of April 2020, 6 months after the first volunteer was placed in Kisumu to help EGP launch and build the school programme, there are no more international volunteers in PlayHandball partner programmes. “We were not able to help locally with volunteers last year because of the pandemic. But we are constantly in contact with our partners like Ruth in Kisumu, asking how things are developing and what help is needed. It is important for us to be able to support the organisation where it is needed and especially to support the local youth coaches in developing their skills. Last year we organised an online workshop. For the youth leaders in Kisumu, it was the first time they participated in an online workshop with participants from different countries. Besides learning handball coaching skills, they also learned how to use online tools,” explains Nange the aim of the partnership.

Nicola Scholl, founder of PlayHandball comments: “Seeing the sport of handball growing in Kisumu and EmpowerGirlsPlus taking a leading role in this shows that the support we give is not just a drop in the ocean, but meaningful help! That said, we very much hope to be able to support the organisation and our other partners in Kenya with volunteers again from August this year.”

“We are very grateful. We hope to further establish handball for the youth, especially for the girls, in Kisumu County and also that our teams will do much better in the next tournament,” Ruth sums up her vision for the future.

Text: PHKE, Nairobi, Kenya, 02/2021

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