Charity Muthoni has been elected as the youngest ever chairman in one of the Mathare Youth Sport Association [MYSA] zones in Kenya. The 11-year-old, who is a keen follower of Manchester United, will preside over meetings in the Kayole Zone, the largest of the 16 chapters, with over 2,000 members.
Charity, who was captain, top scorer and best player for her club side Highbury Galz U-12s last year, is hoping that this responsibility may help her to succeed in the future as a footballer, scientist or a journalist. "If you can dream it, you can achieve it, said the youngster."
"Being a member of MYSA has helped me improve my self-esteem and confidence," she added. "It's also helped me and other members of my community pay school fees and realise our talents and capabilities."
MYSA targets boys and girls under 16 years of age in the Mathare Valley, especially slum dwellers who want to make a difference for themselves and their community by linking football to environmental clean-ups, HIV/Aids awareness/prevention, leadership training and other community service activities.
The organisation, which is supported by Football For Hope and a streetfootballworld network member since 2002, even features a football club that currently competes in the top professional football league of Kenya.
For over ten years MYSA also has a special Leadership Awards programme which encourages and helps identify emerging young leaders; and helps the best of the emerging young leaders to rejoin or stay in school for another year.
The Leadership Awards are based on a point system for different MYSA volunteer activities such as helping younger children (being a volunteer coach, referee and/or organiser for younger teams/leagues) or helping improve the community (AIDS prevention fieldwork, garbage cleanups, etc). At the end of every year, the individuals with the most points by zone, age and gender receive awards which are paid directly to the school or training institution of their choice.
This year over 450 young MYSA leaders (including 225 girls) between 12-18 years old earned the awards, with Charity one of the winners.