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    Posted February 11, 2014 by
    Mombasa, Kenya

    From house wife to managing football programme.


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Mariam Melloney Mpaata wanted to organize a football team for her son, Imran, 14, and other boys in Mombasa in order to provide them with a safe environment to play in. "Football teams exist in Mombasa, but not at organized levels where parents can feel safe enough to leave their child, especially because of the drug abuse [problems]," she said.

    As a Muslim woman, Mpaata sometimes finds being the program director of a boy's football team challenging. "Football is highly regarded as a male's profession. I have not been taken seriously at times, especially as a woman and, yes, maybe some [people] might look at me and think I am not Muslim," she said. But Mpaata feels that her faith is about helping people and said that God has given her a rare opportunity to make a difference.

    Mpaata's program officially got off the ground in April 2008, and it has brought together boys from both well-to-do families and less fortunate ones, which she considers to be her biggest achievement. "Kids from poor families do not smile a lot, but after several games with the other kids they begin to smile and communicate in English," she said.
    - Verybecoming, CNN iReport producer

    Growing up, i believed that being a housewife was just about cooking and tucking kids to bed. Over the years i have learnt that it involves throwing away your inner most needs so your children can live their dream. That is where my story begins.

    I could not handle the pressure of my 6 year old son breaking neighbors wind screens and windows every afternoon. He played with the ball at every opportunity he had. Not knowing any thing about football, i felt irritated and agitated that he could not find a more clam activity.

    They say if you cannot beat them join them!

    One day, i woke and enough was enough , i was embarked on enrolling him in a football club. The only challenge was that in Mombasa , Kenya 8 years ago, it was not possible to find a place for a child to play without any worry of exposure to Drug abuse which is rampant in this part of Kenya.

    I went back home a frustrated mother and but i wondered what else i could do besides giving up. I toyed with the idea to start a football club. But I had many barriers to break. Being a muslim woman, there were issues that were going to be challenging. Like , the profession is male dominated, times will come when i have to wear sports attires. I prepared myself for all this , i was ready to replace my hijab with with a cap, put on my tracks and hit the the field with my son. But then again i was clueless about football experience, neither did i like sports. Breaking these was no easy cake, but a mother's determination can move mountains, i had the heart of a lioness, the kind that will do any thing to protect and nurture its cub.

    In 2008, just after the post election violence in Kenya, I embarked on a journey that not only has changed my focus in life but has given many other young boys the courage and hope to play without fear.

    Six years down the lane the academy is at the fore front of promoting football and interconnects with over 5000 young people through its mentorship and football programmes. Keeping children busy through sports activities is one way we are fighting the drug abuse issue. There is something to look forward to every weekend, a game with the neighboring local team or school team. They brave the scorching sun and sandy fields in the coast. They play together regardless of their colour, religion, or economic backgrounds.They have no time for drugs.

    One of my dreams is to see my son and others fulfill their dreams to play professional football. At the age of 14, Imran has proved that he can actually live it. I have seen him grow into a dependable young striker. His strength and height have earned himself the nickname Drogba.

    I see the hungry passion in my son's eyes and i know he represents many other young African boys who want to follow in the foot steps of their heros. Imran admires players like Christiano Ronaldo, Dider Drogba, Victor Wanyama and Dan Serukuma. He is says he is lucky to have met Wanyama and Serukuma. He is has set his eyes on meeting Christiano and Drogba before he turns 17years. Imran credits his growth to his parents and coaches. He says he is very lucky to have a mother who believes in him and goes out of the way to create opportunities for him and other players.

    That is a story of a woman who has gone from housewife to founding a Football programme so her son and other boys can get closer to living their dream of being football stars.

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