Bukoba Kids Sports Club Enters Copa Coca Cola!
2008 will be the second consecutive year that Tanzanian U-17 soccer players have the chance to join Copa Coca Cola Championship. Clemens Mulokozi interviewed Raymond Mukwenda, founder member and chairman of BUKOBA KIDS SPORTS CLUB (Bk. Kids) to find out what importance the tournament has for the development of the club.
Raymond Mukwenda, 34, was born in 1974 in Dodoma in Tanzania. He is now living in Bukoba in Tanzania near the great Lake Victoria. He did his teachers' course at Tarime teachers college in Mara region Tanzania. He got his diploma in education at Nserester teachers college in Uganda. After this he played football in the Tanzanian premier league for Kagera stars. After this he worked for 5 years as a teacher for different primary schools in Bukoba. In December 2006 he co-founded BUKOBA KIDS SPORTS CLUB (Bk. Kids).
› Mr. Mukwenda, as we are not familiar with the situation in the Lake Victoria region, please give us a brief overview about children’s life in Bukoba?
Most children in Kagera are the victims of poverty and don’t have many opportunities to make something out of their lives. Most youth in Kagera face the following problems: A lot of them live below the poverty line. HIV/ AIDS Infection, child abuse and alcohol abuse rates are high. Almost all children in Kagera region attend the primary school but only 13.1% are selected for Secondary school. Poverty eradication and unemployed policies and strategies that involve the youth have been very limited. And there is a lack of adequate sport and recreation programs for the youth.
› These circumstances are depressing and exhausting. Having that in mind I’m even more impressed about children’s joy and pleasure that I experience whenever I’m on a visit in Bukoba. Yes, you are right: When you walk around through Bukoba in the late afternoon you will find children on every field and beach playing football together. With bare feet they run over the sand and through the grass dreaming of becoming the new football star. And keep in mind: Kagera is considered to be one of the loveliest parts of Tanzania given its staggering scenic beauty, variety of nature and strong cultural history.
› How did it come about that you started BUKOBA KIDS SPORTS CLUB?
I have been playing football since I was a young boy. When I ended my football career with Kagera stars I had the dream of setting up the youth football program for a long time not until I met Bart Lacroix (Netherlands) and Joao Grenho (Portugal). One evening we were discussing about children of Bukoba, Kagera and Tanzania. We came up with the idea of setting up the program for youth. We founded BUKOBA KIDS SPORTS CLUB and registered it with Tanzanian Football Federation in December 2006.
› In your own words: What makes BUKOBA KIDS SPORTS CLUB special in Bukoba?
Bk. Kids is the only registered youth club in Kagera region. We are still a young club, but we already exemplify that children in our region can be helped and promoted through sports.
› Which role does Copa Coca-Cola play in this context?
The idea of the tournament is developing soccer from the grassroots to the highest levels. To quote Mr. Rwehumbiza (Coca Cola Tanzania Operation Marketing Developer): “We are very happy because most of the players who currently form youth national teams were picked from last year’s Copa Coca-Cola. Our aim is … to make this tournament one of the high-profile events in Tanzania….It's through such tournaments featuring young players, the country could develop its soccer.”
› How well is BUKOBA KIDS SPORTS CLUB prepared for this tournament?
We conducted a two days football camp 40 km from Bukoba town. We also used this to spread the word of BUKOBA KIDS in rural areas. The football camp was great, villagers did not believe how skilful are the kids, they decided to offer us to dinners, matoke and samaki (fish and cooking banana).
› Please give us details about the tournament?
The tournaments start in the districts. In Bukoba 16 teams will compete, most of them are secondary schools. The most talented players will be picked to form the district combine. They will play at the regional levels. For us that is Kagera. In the whole Kagera region there are 70 teams participating with 1750 children in total. At this level 16 players will be selected for Kagera regional team to play at the finals, which are scheduled to kick off on June 8th to 28th in Dar-es-salaam.
› What goals is BUKOBA KIDS SPORTS CLUB trying to achieve in this tournament?
To be honest, we are already perfectly happy to give our players the possibility to experience of playing against the best in a World Cup style event. Our players are in a fever of excitement. Bk. Kids also participated in Copa coca cola last year: Five players were selected for the regional youth team and one was selected for the National under 17 years team. It is our aim to build on that work. But it is not only in Bukoba, where Tanzania’s talented players are.
Congratulations! This player, where is he now and what is his name?
› Let’s talk about equipment and financial strength of BUKOBA KIDS SPORTS CLUB in context with Copa Coca Cola. What are the challenges that you are facing?
As I mentioned before, basically we are really happy because the contributions of our supporters and donors makes it possible for our players to participate and proof their talents at this important soccer tournament. But it is no secret that we had serious negotiations about the use of our donations in connection with building up sustainability for BUKOBA KIDS SPORTS CLUB. In the end we agreed in trying our best to use this once a year event for achieving long term goals for the club.
› What do you mean?
Our tournament budget considers three aspects that we consider of particular importance: 1.) Club spirit: It was important for us that the whole club is part of the tournament: all 84 players, boys and girls, also the ones who could not be nominated will be invited for a special BUKOBA KIDS SPORTS DAY. We will all have breakfast, lunch and dinner together with the tournament team. Take into consideration that we have players from poor families that are used to get by without more than one regular meal per day! 2.) Enable the team: Due to lack of real soccer shoes most of our players use to wear (EURO 3,32) rubber shoes with short stability. And can you perform your best when you are hungry? Roughly half of our budget is used for shoes, socks and food of the 25 players. 3.) Involve our world wide supporters: 4 % of our budget will be used to produce digital picture and film material for documentation for release on our website.
› Altogether, what is your budget for the participation at this important tournament?
In the name of BUKOBA KIDS SPORTS CLUB I want to thank our Munich based supporters 11 Prozent Communication, Dr. Haffa & Partner Public Relations, Norbert from Davidoff Lounge in Allianz Arena and Munich Sports Media (Münchner Sportpresse) for supporting us. Together with a 30 % private share that we founder members decided to come up for we have just above Tanzanian Shilling 1 million at our disposal (about EURO 560).
In order to be in a position to develop sustainable structures in BUKOBA KIDS SPORTS CLUB we try to build-up savings and cover running costs with the rest of the donors. And we are still working on potential donors.
Mr. Mukwenda, Thank you and Good luck!