Kisumu town was almost brought to a standstill on Saturday after Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) Founder and CEO Kennedy Odede arrived for the organisation’s football for peace tournament in the lakeside region.
Odede, who landed in Kisumu and later escorted by boda boda riders to Moi Stadium where inaugural SHOFCO Football for Peace tournament was staged, is in Nyanza region for a series of games and meetings with Shofco Urban Network (SUN) representatives.
“We chose Nyanza region for this inaugural SHOFCO football peace tournament because this region is highly volatile during election season. We are engaging the youth to maintain peace during this election campaign season and become more useful in decision making as Kenyans elect their leaders,” Odede said.
Odede stated that for a long time politicians have used young people to further their campaign agenda, only to dump them after they are elected.
“We do not want our youth to be just mere spectators and being misused during campaigns. Our youth are not the leaders of tomorrow as they are being told. I encourage them to take centre stage in the leadership of the country both as voters and offering themselves for election for leadership positions,” Odede said after a football tournament between Manyatta and Nyalenda youth in Kisumu.
Nyalenda beat Manyatta to win a prize money of Ksh70, 000 and a trophy. Manyatta walked home with Ksh50, 000 and a trophy as well.
Odede, who is in Nyanza region for five days, has organized other matches in Sega and Rarieda, Siaya County.
Sega youth played their final match on Sunday while those from Rarieda are set to face off on Wednesday as Odede winds up his lakeside region tour.
“We come from different tribes and clans and we may differ politically, but that should not be a recipe for war. We need to live together peacefully with or without elections,” he urged Nyanza residents.
Apart from presiding over football games, Odede addressed SUN representatives from Rabuor and Bondo (Monday) and Alego-Usonga and Rarieda (Tuesday).
Odede said the peace tournaments will be held annually and next one will happen before the August 8, 2022 general elections.
Apart from using the tournaments to preach peace, Odede is scouting for talents in football after running a successful Shofco FC in Kibera. Shofco FC play for Football Kenya Federation Nairobi West Division Two.
“Sports is a big thing across the world now and we need to nurture our children to sharpen their talents in sports. We all have a role to play,” he said.
The SHOFCO boss promised to increase prize money next year as he seeks to nurture talents from the region.
The Nyanza events were graced by SUN officials from Nairobi and coastal region where Odede said he will sponsor other tournaments.
SHOFCO currently has over 150, 000 members in Kisumu and Siaya counties.
“I want to thank the county governments of Siaya and Kisumu for our great partnership. As SHOFCO, we look forward to working together in 2022 as we bring social services closer to the people on the ground,” Odede said.
SHOFCO currently has a gender desk, water truck and community bus for the Nyanza residents.
Last month, Odede toured Kilifi County where he also urged the residents to maintain peace during election campaign period.
SHOFCO has over 50, 000 members in Kilifi.
Odede, who grew up in Kibera, started SHOFCO with a soccer ball and Ksh20 savings in 2004.
SHOFCO is currently operating in 12 counties across Kenya and serves over 2.4 million people.