Mental Health Awareness Football Match in Narok County

The Inter-Religious Council of Kenya was proud to be the inaugural co-sponsor of the Narok County Mental Health Sports’ Day – a football tournament that raised awareness for ‘Transcending Foundations of Peace and Security for Inclusive and Sustainable Development in Kenya’ project.

The football match was held on 24th November 2020 at Narok Motonyi Arena. It was well attended by a hundred people majorly from the Narok Interfaith Network and nearby residents, who came together for a fun and informative day. The football match was between Irmeshiku FC and Ilimedu FC with the match officials being senior religious leaders from Narok County.

This activity will help us jump-start our sports activities that had stalled for a while now. The majority of the boys had become so idle that bhang was the order of the day from morning to evening while others got involved in uncouth behaviors”

Specifically, the project touched the life of one young aspiring footballer Nickson Kushumpa who is the team captain of the Irmeshuki FC. The 26 years old plays as a striker for the team and hails from Olopito location, Narok County. Nickson was hugely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic just like the vast majority of the youth in the county due to the restricted movements put in place by the Ministry of Health as a measure to curb the spread of the virus. Nickson’s’ football team was not able to meet physically for training nor to play in tournaments where they used to win cash prizes and other prizes from donors and sponsors.

“We are grateful to the UNDP and IRCK for remembering us here in Narok. This activity will help us jump-start our sports activities that had stalled for a while now. The majority of the boys had become so idle that bhang was the order of the day from morning to evening while others got involved in uncouth behaviors,” stated Nickolas to the media team present at the event.

Mr.Nickson Kushumpa receiving the Mental Health Champion Trophy from the Guest of Honor Sheikh Ali Juma from the SUPKEM.

Nickson was very talented on the field, he led his team in thrashing Ilimedu FC with 5 goals to 2 goals with bragging rights of scoring two of the goals.

“I was very lucky in this game. The truth is we are still physically unfit and you could see that during the last stages of the game. We were very exhausted. But we thank God for coming out the best against a formidable opponent today,” explained Nickson on his take on the win.

The Sports Day could not end better than the team being empowered on mental health by Dr. Isaac Kenyanya from the Narok County Health team, followed by the Olopito location area chief Mrs. Lilian Natoe. The two advised the youth to take good care of their mental health by eating well, drinking lots of water, and investing their time and energy in productive activities to uplift themselves as individuals. It was indeed evident that the project had touched the youths and empowered them on how to come together during this difficult time by involving them more in sports activities thus using their talents and skills in meaningful activities. Dr. Kenyanya emphasized on the youth coming together during the sensitization session,this also triggered a conversation among the youth present on how to identify mental illness symptoms and how to address such issues. It was very encouraging to hear Nickson urging the team to buy team uniforms, training kits, and equipment with the cash prize awarded to them. 

Paying attention to warning signs and being open-minded with your team doctor or coach to learn what triggers these symptoms is very important to you as a youth facing mental health problems”

“Paying attention to warning signs and being open-minded with your team doctor or coach to learn what triggers these symptoms is very important to you as a youth facing mental health problems, whether abusing drugs, alcohol or underwhelmed with early school dropout due to early pregnancy. Seek medical care and have an accountability partner to share with is very important to avoid getting to the point of no return,” elucidated Dr. Kenyanya.

The Sports Day ended with both teams coming together to plant tree seedlings at the Motonyi Arena Ground.

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