Kakuma Refugee Camp
Barefoot to Boots currently focuses on the Kakuma Refugee Camp, with an ambition to provide for more camps in the future.
Location: Kenya / Population: 180,000
Kakuma Refugee Camp is located in the town of Kakuma, in Turkana County, in the North-Western region of Kenya.
Many of the refugees at the camp have fled wars and violence in neighbouring countries, including Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, DR Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Eritrea and Uganda. The area is known to suffer from sandstorms, malnutrition, communicable diseases and malaria. It's also home to many of the Lost Boys of Sudan; the name given to the displaced and/or orphaned children that suffered during the Sudanese Civil War (1983 to 2005) and post-Sudanese-independence violence (2011 to 2013).
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.