In December 2018 the Sir Stanley Matthews Foundation helped set up a brand new project in northern Uganda, aimed at the rehabilitation of former child soldiers back into society through football.
Since 1987 northern Uganda has been a region in conflict. A brutal insurgency by a group called the Lord's Resistance Army has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of people and has caused the displacement of approximately 3 million people across the entire region. The Lord's Resistance Army became particularly notorious for their practice of kidnapping young people, both boys and girls, and forcing them to become soldiers for their cause. A lot of these children were forced to take part in horrendous events, causing severe trauma and psychological suffering. As the conflict subsided and a tentative peace returned to the region these children have been trying to return to their families and normal society, while refugees fleeing the conflict have been returning to their homes once more.
The Foundation Project
Working in conjunction with the Ugandan children's charity, the Abato Foundation, and UK football charity, Onside Soccer, the Sir Stanley Matthews Foundation has set up a project in Anaka in northern Uganda, working both with former child soldiers and also young people forced to flee their homes due to the conflict.
We have set up a team of coaches to provide free football training sessions 2-3 times per week to anyone who wants to come along and we have also employed a specialist trauma counsellor to work with young people affected by the conflict. Anaka was the biggest IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp in the whole of northern Uganda with close to 500,000 people living there in very basic conditions. Every family in the area, almost wthout exception, was affected and generally each family has had at least one child abducted and recruited into the LRA rebellion. A lot of these child soldiers lost their lives during the war and those that did return came back traumatized. Alcohol dependency is now rife in the area, HIV prevalence is also high and a large number of people have been maimed in the conflict, with many people missing limbs and unable to work or see a future for themselves.
In a region so devastated by conflict it is difficult to see how to address the problems left behind. People's lives have been utterly ripped apart but it is our hope and desire that this project will bring some light into even the darkest of situations, giving young people the chance to play the sport that they love so much in a safe environment.
How can I help?
If you would like to help this project out there are a number of things you can do:
- donate your old kits and boots. We send shipments to Uganda every 3-4 months and all of your old kit will be distributed to the young people and kids in the project.
- donate some funds. We currently fund this project ourselves but to keep it going long term we really need people to support it financially. If you can donate even a few pounds it will make a tremendous difference to what we can do. Any funding we receive will go directly to helping this project survive and will genuinely make a big difference.
If you can help in any way please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and he will be happy to answer any questions you have.