By Ruth Amiani
Tunza Sport Academy is a non-profitable organization that is making great effort to make sure young girls in rural regions make better leaders by playing hockey and other games. With its headquarters in rural Kisumu and its oldest branch in Mombasa, Tunza benefits kids by offering different skills through sports.
Tunza is an initiative of Raquel Otieno a former Kenyan International. Her idea and passion have seen a lot of change in rural areas where children from underprivileged families can rise above poverty to concur the world through sports talent. In addition, her network has seen sponsors from different parts of the world. She also encourages locals to be part of the change and empowerment. Her vision and dream to teach young girls’ hockey is not only a life changing event but a phenomenal movement in utilizing talent to earn a living.
The sports academy utilizes the potentiality of sports on its role to influence the children future and their skills. The academy through teaching hockey skills, they instill academic importance and success, eradication of poverty through talent maximization and health awareness. The young children are provided with the necessary tools to not only beat peer pressure, early pregnancy and drug abuse traps, but enough to take part in tournaments all the nation and abroad and above all earn themselves a spot to be offered internship and funds worldwide.
Tunza Academy not only nurtures and empower the children’s talents and skills, but it goes ahead to enable them to become women of honor, substance and active community team members. In its two years in operation, the new launch of the second academy in Kisumu sprung up the want of incorporating boys into the program earlier on. This diversification will enable every rural child to take part in the life changing programme. While leadership and managerial skills are part of what Tunza’s mission, the academy is also keen on documenting and monitoring the kids, the coaches are able to help them balance between their academics and their development in sports.
Tunza goal in the future is to create more partnerships and network with schools and partner with various organizations as they pool funds to better and create more facilities for the children. In addition, they are also looking forward in taking part in tournaments abroad.
The academy was officially launched on Friday, 3 January 2020 in Ratta, Kisumu County. The event was attended by representatives within the hockey fraternity in Kenya and Uganda. Activities included: Fun tryout corner where on arrival, guests had a chance to get a feel for the game of hockey, a display game by the players using American Development Model (ADM) equipment by USA Field Hockey, Boxing demo promoting Kisumu Boxing through Aces Boxing Club in Boonton New Jersey, A parade of names recognizing all those who donated to Tunza since its inception, A runway of models showcasing uniforms and shoes donated by friends of Tunza in the USA and Kenya.
During the launch, there was also a special recognition of secondary school-bound girls who are the Tunza Sport pioneers who modeled ‘prom-themed’ dresses.
Speaking to Denis Owoka who together with Otieno have seen the Tunza Sport Academy materialize, he expressed his joy about the much awaited launch. “It was a success, so colorful and well attended. More parents came to enroll their kids in the program and some boys actually started training,” said Owoka. “The local community now fully embraces Tunza, and we also talked about the scholarships for the secondary school-bound girls who will be joining Nyamira and Sinyolo Girls,” he added.