The last few months have been very busy for Kibera Mpira Mtaani in terms of both football and education. The after school education program tutored around sixty students for their KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education) exams which are sat at the end of their eighth year of primary education. These are the arguably the most important exams that students in Kenya will sit as they determine whether or not they will be offered a place at secondary school and which level of school they will go to - National, Provincial, District. Before the exams started Vision Africa and local British school The Banda provided students with the clipboards and geometry sets that are required to sit the exams. Within a week of the exams being finished, students were encouraged to complete forms for a number of scholarship programs in preparation for the exam results being released at the end of December. Very few parents in Kibera can afford to pay secondary school fees so scholarships and individual sponsors provide a lifeline for bright students. The education program supports over three hundred students on a daily basis. These range from the young ones who attend ECD (Early Childhood Development) classes through to those in secondary school. Kibera Mpira Mtaani's resource centre provides a safe place for children to do their homework and volunteer tutors are on hand to help answer any questions and set additional assignments. With the school year drawing to a close and exams finished, it was time for the annual Informal Schools Football Tournament to be held. The vast majority of schools in slums like Kibera are not supported by the government and can't afford to compete in the annual sports competitions run by the government. Kibera Mpira Mtaani's tournament gives schools the opportunity to come together, meet each other, develop their talents and have fun. Each school that competes is allowed to enter two teams, one for boys and one for girls. Rounds are played over a number of days and then the finals are held at a colourful event at the end. This year, the tournament had a special significance as it was funded thanks to a donation of money raised by some young children in the UK. Wescott Infant School in Wokingham raised around 650 by holding a "Concert for Kenya" evening at their school. This allowed Kibera Mpira Mtaani to hire pitches, pay for referees and cover other costs involved in the tournament. Teams that took part in this year's tournament were up against rain and mud as well as each other. On finals day, the pitch was like a mudbath but the teams' spirits were high and their teachers were on hand to encourage them. The players received a special visit from Francis Ouma of the Kenya Premier League team Sofapaka. Francis was representing a group called "Green Card Mtaani" which aims to teach young football players from deprived areas that they should say no to crime and drugs. He told the finalists "Football is not just about a talent, it's your life". MC Gigi Spice who helped keep the audience entertained and provided commentary for the event announced "even if there is no food on the table, don't put a gun on your waist". There was more advice for finalists as they participated in peer counselling in breaks between matches. A number of teenage boys and girls who have studied at Kibera Mpira Mtaani have undergone training in peer counselling thanks to CARE Kenya who also supported the finals event with some awards and refreshments for the teams. Some of the young counsellors were invited to talk to the footballers about challenges in life and how to make good decisions. It was great to see these youths giving back to their community having benefited from Kibera Mpira Mtaani's resource centre. Winners on the day were Spurgeons Academy who took the top spot in both the boys and girls categories. However, it could be argued that everyone who participated was a winner as they all seemed to enjoy the event. Priscah who played in the girls final told us "The best thing about the tournament was that I have been communicating with other schools, seeing how the other teams are playing and what their schools are doing and how we can make friends with them." Thanks to everyone who has supported Kibera Mpira Mtaani in 2011 and we look forward to sharing more of their success stories in 2012.
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