Olly Murs in Kenya

The England star meets children whose lives are being changed through football

Olly meets Veronica

Olly Murs recently travelled to Nairobi, Kenya where he visited Korogocho Football Academy (Acakoro). The Unicef-supported project gives vulnerable local children a lifeline through football.

Korogocho is a very dangerous place to grow up for the 90% of its population who are under 18. Some are even forced to go through rubbish in the local dump site to survive – as used to be the case for Veronica, one of the kids Olly met.

That’s where the Academy comes in. It provides 115 children with access to high-quality football training and pays their school fees. They get a hot meal every day and can receive medical and social care.

Olly talks to Veronica, 15. Before Acakoro, she was forced to collect plastic at the local dumpsite to sell so she could buy food.

A lifeline for vulnerable children

Olly walking through a rubbish dumping site with twelve-year-old Vinnie.

Thirteen-year-old Vincent shows Olly Murs the dump site where he worked before getting in to Korogocho Football Academy.

Kids from the football academy walking through town to training in their kit.

The Academy helps protect its kids from the many dangers that come with growing up in Korogocho.

Kids from the academy resting on the grass during training.

The kids are part of a team, building their self-confidence and sense of cooperation and respect.

The power of football

Twelve-year-old Linda joined the academy in 2013, when she was only seven years old. At that time she was living with her mother in a very dangerous part of Korogocho. Tragically, in 2015 Linda’s mother passed away and although she lives with relatives, life has been very tough.

Throughout the challenges Linda has faced, the Academy has been a huge source of support. With help from the coaches she’s developed into a talented striker and has been selected to play at an international tournament in Austria this summer. The project has a proven record of success. Its teams regularly win national tournaments in Kenya and three of its children have made it in to the Kenyan national under-20 football team.

Linda now dreams of one day becoming a professional football player for Kenya’s national football team.

“When I’m in Acakoro I feel happy. I make friends every day and I can get an education.

When I’m playing on the field I feel good, because I get to learn new things every day from my teammates.”

The Little President

Twelve-year-old Leone joined the academy in 2015. He had only been able to attend school rarely, when his grandmother had money for the fees, and he wasn’t getting enough food at home. With support from the project, Leone is now in full-time education and gets a hot meal after every training session. His confidence has grown so much that he now has a new nickname among his teammates – the Little President.

All the children at Korogocho Football Academy are attending school regularly, and their performance is improving greatly. The project aims to enrich Korogocho – children who are allowed to reach their full potential can then go on to be advocates for change in their own community.

Leone sitting on a bench wearing his school uniform with his football kit and boots next to him.

Leone has improved his football skills and confidence to the point that he is now his team's captain.

“It’s been an amazing trip, a real eye opener for me.

Although I’ve seen the worst, I’ve seen the positives, the money really does make a difference.”

Make a difference

While Korogocho Football Academy is changing the lives of the 115 children, many more are still in need of support. The project has ambitions to grow so that more kids like Veronica, Linda and Leone can access the opportunities that if offers.

By supporting Soccer Aid you help to support more amazing projects like this all around the world. Even a small donation goes a long way to helping children grow up healthy, happy and safe.

Olly Murs walking through Korogocho talking to Stanley, one the academy coaches.

All photos: Ray Burmiston

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