Coach Kalekeni Mtalika Banda's idea is, through the lure of afterschool soccer leagues, to establish an education-based mentoring program for poor and neglected children in northern Malawi, providing them the opportunity to receive at least an 8th-grade education. The goal is to stimulate young boys and girls to visualize, comprehend and marvel at the opportunity for personal growth and a healthy life.
Coach Banda is a native of Chituka, so he understands the village's needs. He also has many relatives in Malawi who can facilitate all aspects of this project.
"Although there are four middle schools in Chituka and education is free, school attendance is not mandatory," Banda says. "For those that do attend, there are too few pens, notebooks and textbooks. These factors, combined with the fact that so many children are orphaned at a young age, are disincentives for going to school. These children will never break the cycle of poverty without an adequate education."
Remembering how the opportunity to participate in afterschool sports was a huge incentive for him to attend school as a Chituka youth, Coach Banda aims to establish soccer leagues at each school. In order to participate -- and to receive the uniforms and necessary equipment, including soccer balls -- the children will be required to attend afterschool mentoring sessions focusing on literacy and math.