‘’I started Shamas Rugby Foundation (SRF) in 2010, because I felt the need to give back to society and to help the less privileged. I always loved the sport of rugby. Back in my high school days in Scotland, I played a lot of rugby. This sport helped me become more confident, build friendships, and embrace fundamental values that have become part of who I am today.
In the beginning, SRF was a very small and informal program for children from Kibera (Africa’s largest slum) only. There were two volunteer coaches running training sessions for 10-15 boys at RFUEA Grounds in Nairobi. One day, I decided to buy some juice and snacks for the children, since most of them would come for training on an empty stomach. The next Sunday more children joined. By the end of the month, numbers had risen to 70-80 participants.
Over the last 9 years, SRF has developed into the largest grassroots rugby development program in Kenya with 5 clinics in Nairobi and Kiambu county and over 1’500 children and youths reached on a weekly basis.
More than this, SRF has grown into an organization that uses rugby as a mean to develop children and youth from slums areas both on and off the rugby pitch.
Until 2015, we only used to focus on rugby and on developing good rugby players. With time, we realized that rugby alone wasn’t enough to have a real impact on the players’ lives. We decided to expand our mission and to focus on the holistic development of the players on and off the rugby pitch.
SRF beneficiaries live in communities whose dynamics require more than just rugby skills. They experience many challenges each day that need tailored interventions. There was, therefore, the need to come up with programs that would empower our players and the communities at large to be able to overcome these challenges and lead them to living more sustainable and fulfilling lives.
Today, our programs extend over 4 pillars: 1) Grassroots Rugby Development; 2) Education and Professional Development; 3) Character Building and Resilience; 4) Community Welfare. This approach has allowed us to have a much bigger impact on the players’ lives and the communities they come from.
Our greatest achievement so far has been the ability to provide our players with a stable platform in which they can become all rounded people with resilience and integrity, such that they can dare to dream of a better future.
Our success has been possible mainly thanks to the people that work for the organization from office staff to field staff. Everyone is committed towards helping the organization achieve its mission and fulfill its vision. The culture that has been built has helped make this success possible. The organization has the potential to become stronger and more impactiful in the future. However, the main challenges the organization is facing are related to the funding of our projects. Currently, our growth is slow due to our limited capacity to raise funds in Kenya, mainly, and abroad. In order for the organization to keep on growing and get closer to achieving its vision, we are currently working on: 1) Diversifying fundraising sources; 2) Registering as a charitable organization in the U.S.; 3) Developing different profit generating activities that would help the organization become more sustainable.
Looking back at the last nine years, I can say that we have come from quite far. The organization has been growing organically throughout the years, focusing on sustainability of its funding and quality of the programs delivered. If we will manage to keep our standards high, we will be able to keep expanding our reach beyond Nairobi and Kiambu, impacting children in all regions of Kenya”.
CHANGING LIVES WITH SCRUMS AND TRIES.