May 20, 2024

Wajir Queens: Forging a Path of Hope in North Eastern Girls' Football

Wajir Queens: Forging a Path of Hope in North Eastern Girls' Football

Earning their ticket to the national finals through a walkover due to a lack of opponents at the regional level, the team is committed to ignite a passion for soccer in the region

After months of thrilling Safaricom Chapa Dimba soccer matches played across all 47 counties representing eight regions of Kenya, we reflect on one of an outstanding story of resilience and commitment, transcending cultural barriers in the pursuit of soccer greatness.

The story of Wajir Queens illuminates a beacon of hope for women's football in North Eastern Kenya, a region long neglectful of girls' soccer. 

Despite enduring a crushing defeat in the national finals, where they were beaten 18-0 by Barcelona Ladies SC  from Laikipia, Wajir Queens proudly stand as the first girls' football squad from North Eastern Kenya to grace a national soccer event since independence.

Earning their ticket to the national finals through a walkover due to a lack of opponents at the regional level, the team, under the guidance of coach Ndubi Mazrui, is committed to ignite a passion for the sport among girls in the region.

Speaking from Kisumu during the national Chapa Dimba finals, Coach Mazrui Ndubi said, "For years, cultural barriers stifled opportunities for women to thrive. But gradually, we've fostered a supportive environment for girls to realize their potential. But with time, we have worked to support girls in identifying their potential, that is why in my school we use sports to empower girls.

While initially we were met with resistance, particularly due to cultural norms dictating girls' limited physical activity, we persevered." 

Although the region initially missed out on the first two Chapa Dimba editions, a newfound enthusiasm for football is heralding a wave of possibilities.

Acknowledging Safaricom's role in broadening horizons and exposing them to myriad opportunities, Coach Mazrui reflects, "Competing against players with over 15 years of exposure to girls' football presents its challenges. Yet, less than a year into our football journey, Chapa Dimba provided a pivotal platform. Our girls rarely participated in school games, making this opportunity invaluable."

Expressing gratitude to Safaricom and Chapa Dimba, Coach Mazrui emphasizes, "This exposure and chance to showcase our talent will not only garner support for football and sports but also resonate deeply with the people of Wajir as we hope our experience and exposure will soften the hearts of the community. Thank you, Safaricom."

Ndubi emphasizes, "Just as we've seen our girls' teams engage in national basketball and athletics school competitions, we aspire for schools to integrate women's football into these games in the future. This move would provide fresh hope and equal opportunities for our girls."

Alongside the invaluable football exposure, the team encountered a rare and uplifting experience: being flown from Wajir all the way to Kisumu, a first for many team members.

"I extend my gratitude to Safaricom for flying us to Kisumu," remarked Coach Mazrui. "It was a remarkable experience for the teams, one that will be etched in their memories for years to come."

 



Wajir Queens: Forging a Path of Hope in North Eastern Girls' Football

As regional champions alongside the boys' team Wajir Stas, Wajir Queens received KES. 250,000 and additional accolades. In the national finals held in Kisumu, The mighty Obunga FC and Nyakach Girls emerged victorious, each claiming 1 million shillings in prize money.

This year’s tournament has also offered 150 TVET scholarships to Most Valuable Players (MVPs), empowering them with education and skills for life beyond football.

Safaricom Chapa Dimba aims to provide a structured platform for scouts and coaches to tap into new talent, build feeder systems for the Kenyan football leagues across the country, and train a total of 250 coaches. The tournament targets footballers aged between 16 and 20 years.

A remarkable 3,353 teams and over 60,300 players participated in exhilarating competition during the national preliminary matches, spanning Kenya's diverse regions.