The initiatives of Barefoot to Boots are guided by refugees to meet their basic needs.
Our core areas of focus are health, education and sport. Sport is the fundamental enabler to delivery into both health and education, and is positioned as the platform of Barefoot – reflective of the organisations foundations and partnerships we have established over the past 5 years.
We thank our donors for their generous support.
Since 2014, we have provided football gear, including boots and jerseys, to refugees in Kakuma Refugee Camp, reaching youth in sporting teams in the camp, including the Kakuma Premier League. A pair of boots changes the lives of a young boy or girl. The ground in the region is dry, hard and dusty - a pair of boots enables the youth to practice, train and play competitively.
The contribution of football gear has provided a pathway for more involvement in the Premier League teams, and lead to recent discussions for ‘Coach the Coach and Referee Programs’.
Kakuma Premier League
The lightness that sport brings to refugees is beyond anyone could imagine. Our hope is you keep your eyes on Kakuma Premier League.
Barefoot to Boots co-founders Awer Mabil and brother Awer Bul were born in Kakuma, living there until 2006, when younger brother Mabil was 11 years old. Both brothers began to play football at the camp aged 5, with little else to do during the day.
Awer Mabil is now a professional footballer, recently making the Australian National Squad.
In 2016 the Lutheran World Federation's Youth Protection and Development office officially launched the Kakuma Premier League (KPL) to engage the youth in showcasing their football talents. The first opening match was played on July 30th 2016 at the Virunga Field in Kakuma 3, Zone 2. As these matches were being played, the team of 5 refugee athletes from Kakuma was in Rio preparing to participate in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics.
Being the first of its kind in Kakuma, the league is as a result of years of hard work in sports between the refugee and host community of Kakuma. “Kakuma premier league is an idea that came out of deep soul searching and consultation between LWF and the community youth leaders - managing sports both within the camp and immediate host community. The idea was to take sports beyond its current scope which has been as a recreation activity to keep the youth constructively engaged and to identify, tap and develop the huge talent that exists among the young people of Kakuma,” says Tom Aduwa, LWF Youth Protection and Development Officer.
Compared to the previous system of tournaments and zonal level leagues, this league will give younger players something to look up to, to dream of and to work hard to join. “It will give champions of the league and other players more opportunities to move outside the camp and play in tournaments organized by organizations tasked with running football in Kenya such as the Kenya Football Federation (KFF) and the Kenya Premier League (KPL). This will provide them with opportunities for exposing their talents and for scouts from other teams to identify and pick them out,” adds Tom. Furthermore, the league also seeks to develop an internationally recognized community based sports program with established community sustained structures made up of a large base of players, volunteer coaches, referees, team managers and First Aid Personnel and from where talent, skills and experience can be sourced by scouts from teams in world class football leagues.
The Kakuma Premier League now also has girls teams actively playing in it.