Many nongovernmental organizations currently doing work in Africa utilize the power of sports to help positively shape the lives of those who live in poverty and slums across the continent. However, very few of these organizations are like the social enterprise that is the Sadili Oval Sports Academy. What makes the Academy so unique is that it offers underprivileged children from nearby slums the opportunity to develop their skills and potentially become a professional athlete.
Based in Nairobi, Kenya, the Sadili Oval Sports Academy purchased the land they currently operate on in 1992, and after several years of development opened their doors to the public in 1998. The name “Sadili” comes from the Kiswahili term that roughly translates to “well-being,” which guides their current mission to this day. The indigenous, nonprofit and community-driven sports center utilizes the power of sports and education to empower youth to improve their lifestyles and and ensure a better future. Because the Academy borders the largest slum in Nairobi, Kibera, the Academy targets these children and caters its programs toward them. Currently, the Academy is the only place for these children to play sports.
Because the Sadili Oval Sports Academy is a unique social enterprise, it also contains a separate, for-profit branch. Thanks to this separate yet linked branch, the profit that comes from it is then used to help subsidize many of their non-profit programs.
The Academy also has a variety of programs, which includes the Slum Tennis Project (which is designed to help develop talent and potential professional athletes), Sports for Life, African Child Sport and Education Fund, and a Girl Power Club. Through focusing on vulnerable groups like the Kibera slum, the Academy has been able to reach 67 different secondary schools across the city of Nairobi.
Outside of sports, the Academy also has a distinct environmental focus. The land where the Academy currently stands was once a sewage area, which is part of why it took so long to develop and build the facilities. The buildings and gymnasium are constructed of recycled materials, and many of the programs offered by the Academy incorporate environmental themes.
Through capitalizing on the power of sports and instilling important lessons about lifestyle, the environment and leadership, the Sadili Oval Sports Academy has already made a difference in the lives of many and stands to do more of the same in the future.
– Andre Gobbo