Kenyan Premier League has partnered with Zeb Strong Foundation to launch a 7-a-side Inmates Premier League which will see 25 teams from the Kamiti Maximum Prison (13-team league) and the Naivasha Maximum Prison (12-team league) compete for glory.
This launch was done on Wednesday, September 05, 2018 at the Kamiti Maximum Prison and saw AFC Leopards take on Kamiti All Stars in an entertaining friendly 7-a-side match.
Playing on a murram and gravel surface, Kamiti AllStars took a 3-1 first-half lead before AFC Leopards came back strongly in the second half to force a 3-3 draw. The quality of play and the goals scored was testament to the talent on display as both teams exhibited great ball control, innovation, accurate passing, and teamwork while defending and attacking.
The similarity in some of the goals by both teams, as well as chances created, pointed to an exchange of ideas between the two teams which was further reinforced during a bonding session after the full time whistle.
Speaking after the match, Daniel Omondi, who is the Kamiti Inmates Football Association (KIFA) president, said that the introduction of football at the prison has given inmates a new lease of life.
“Football has transformed our lives in many ways. Some of the players who featured for our team today only took up football when they got here. The world all over, football is known for uniting people and it is this aspect of the sport that has helped brought inmates together. Even those who do not play have something to look forward to by coming to watch the team train and play, coaching, organizing matches, commentating, and preparing the pitch by setting up the goalposts and marking it. Football is proving to be a welcome distraction and it is giving us hope.”
The KIFA president also conveyed his thanks to AFC Leopards for making time to be part of the occasion and his words of encouragement to them highlighted the positive effects of the reforms that have been carried out across Kenya’s prisons over the last few years as well as the impact SportPesa Premier League matches being shown on Free-to-Air channels is having.
“To AFC Leopards, we thank you for your time. Having watched on TV several times, your presence here means a lot to us and it is our hope that after interacting with us here, you will be more inspired to give your best for your club and nation. You have access to the best coaches and training facilities and by having you here, our team has learned something.”
Speaking on behalf of AFC Leopards, the club’s goalkeeper trainer Matthew Ottomax, expressed the club’s pride in being part of a noble initiative.
“AFC Leopards is proud to be part of this initiative and we look forward to coming again to give our time and support to this project. Football is a unifying sport and through our involvement, we are happy to make a difference in the lives of inmates and give them hope.”
Bishop Joseph Kirai alias Kariz of Zeb Strong foundation also used the opportunity to thank the Prison authority for their support in making the event a success as well as explaining about future plans for the Inmates Premier League.
“I wish to thank the management of Kamiti Maximum Prison for their support in this project which started with the Prisons World Cup. As a start, the Inmates Premier League will only cover Kamiti and Naivasha Maximum Prisons but in future, with sponsorship and the involvement of other stakeholders we are planning to reach out, we will be able to expand this project to other prisons in the country.”
Kariz also added that they are working on ways to broadcast one per match week on Facebook so that the League can have an audience outside the prison.
“The Inmates Premier League has the potential to grow into something big and as such, we are planning to acquire some gadgets with which we will be able to broadcast one match per week on Facebook. This will give the league a bigger audience and we will be able to reach more people who would wish to support us.”
The event was also attended by former AFC Leopards and Mathare United captain, Anthony Kimani, who also serves as the ambassador of the Inmates Premier League. Kimani lauded the Kamiti All Stars team for their effort and urged them to continue actively participating in the sport.
“I am impressed by the level of talent and sportsmanship that was on display today. This is just one of the things that give me great pride in being the ambassador of the Inmates Premier League. Seeing your hard work and dedication to be better in the sport is what will inspire me to give my best to this project. In life, we have to make the best of the situations that we are in and through this Inmates Premier League I believe it will not only give you hope and something positive about your time here but it will also help change the public’s perception of our reform institutions.”
Kenyan Premier League CEO Jack Oguda highlighted the progress made by KPL and Zeb Strong towards launching of the Inmates Premier League.
“Following the success of the Prison World Cup which was held in June-July, we realized the potential football has to change the lives of inmates and we were challenged and inspired by that to something bigger. The idea of an Inmates Premier League was floated and after several weeks of planning, we are happy that we have been able to launch it. This is just the first step and in the days to come we hope to get more partners on board through the network we have.”
The KPL CEO also said that a trophy will be given to the best team at the end of the season.
“There will be matches week-in week-out and at the end of the season, a trophy will be awarded to the best team. This being our CSR project, we will provide technical support and also we will also reach out to SportPesa Premier League clubs to donate boots, gloves, balls, and other playing equipment which they do not use to the teams participating in this league. Once in a while, we will arrange friendly matches pitting an inmates team and a SportPesa Premier League game so that this project can continuing growing bigger and bigger.”
Kenyan Premier League also donated 10 balls to the Kamiti Inmates Footaball Association.
MORE ABOUT INMATES PREMIER LEAGUE
Why the Inmates Football Project?
Among the key goals of KPL is to undertake new programmes within and among our clubs for contributing to community and national development and achieving greater national unity. A number of former Kenyan Premier League players have fallen into crime and ended up in the correctional facilities bringing name of football and footballers into disrepute. We therefore want to give hope to the inmates immediately during and after serving their term.
- To improve engagement between the inmates and prison officers to impart positively on their work;
- To engage the inmates to avert from the use of drugs and illegal substances in prison institutions;
- To ameliorate the problem of congestion and overcrowding in prisons;
- To have effective rehabilitators among the inmates in place within the prison institutions;
- To improve the prison staff welfare and have entertainment through sports, arts & culture.
- To support ongoing projects within the prison institutions.
Why start the Inmates Premier League?
Most of the prisoners at Kamiti Main Prison and Naivasha Prison are either condemned or serving a sentence of more than 10 years. It is quite hard for a normal human being to serve this kind of sentence without programs being thrown in. We all know that if one is left alone, he may start looking for other options that are not right at all; Drugs is a perfect example.
Most of the inmates are footballers who were passionate about the game and were looking to build their lives around it but due to many circumstances, they opted to engage themselves in a life of crime that led to their arrest.
Knowing that if their employers (football clubs) had invested well in medical equipment for their injuries, paid them their salaries well and in due time and also engage them off the field of play, they would have been better men in the society.
No one is beyond hope and that’s why the Inmates Premier League (IPL) initiative will achieve the following:
- Keep the inmates engaged and there will be no room for activities that will further destroy their lives.
- Increase their skills as players, match officials and managers of the beautiful game.
- Bring transformation of behavior in all aspects of life.
- Bring reconciliation spirit between the inmates, wardens and the society at large.
- Enable them to experience what is experienced by other professional footballers in professionally run league.
- Be a tool to create awareness and offer solutions on various problems faced by the inmates thus leading to total transformation.
Inmates Premier League Teams
KAMITI MAXIMUM PRISON TEAMS: Academica FC, Academy FC, Alaska FC, Alaska Jnr FC, Black Star FC, Blue Sky FC, Gunners FC, Hamas FC, Kadhiani FC, M.O.G FC, Mathare FC, Morocco FC, and Taqwa FC.
NAIVASHA MAXIMUM PRISON TEAMS: Arsenal FC, AS Monaco FC, Atletico Madrid FC, Barcelona FC, Bayern Munich FC, Celtic FC, Chelsea FC, Dragon FC, Everton FC, Juventus FC, Olympic FC, Real Madrid FC
ABOUT ZEB STRONG FOUNDATION
Zeb Montgomery was a gifted athlete and artist and he loved to give. Born on January 8, 2001, he began playing soccer at the age of 4 and played up until he got sick at age 13. He moved up to the select soccer level. He was also a cross-country runner and had begun winning medals for himself and his middle school team.
Zeb had a vision for giving away soccer balls. The mandates on his life were to tell his story, help people, and give soccer balls to kids in other nations. Zeb Montgomery battled Acute Myeloid Leukemia for 18 months. He passed away on November 10th, 2015 at 2:20pm. Zeb was 14 years old.
Zeb’s Foundation, a non-profit organization, was created to help carry out the mandates on Zeb’s life. When asked why he wanted to give away soccer balls in the nations, Zeb replied, “Well, I want to help others and I love soccer and I want to share what I love with others.”
Our goal is to continue to telling Zeb’s story, helping people, and giving away soccer balls and also organizing soccer leagues and tournaments in both the prisons and the slum area. Our most joy comes when we reach out to our brothers behind bars through soccers. We have been involved in prison ministry for the last 3 years though our Director Bishop Kariz has been directly involved with prison ministry for the last seven years. During this 3 years, we have seen tremendous, hope restoration, family reconciliation and most of all acceptance of former inmates back to the society.
Our recent achievement came when we held Prison World Cup 2018, which we saw 8 prison representing 8 pools. The competition was full of surprises just as the the one which was held in Russia; For the first march we saw Kamiti Max which was representing the host RUSSIA thrash Kamiti Medium (Saudia Arabia) 5-0.
The tournament brought not only prisoner but also veteran footballers and football Pundits together. Among them were Jack Oguda, Musa Otieno, Jacob Mulee, Antony Kimani who was the tournament ambassador, Innocent Mutiso, Fred Arocho, Carol Radull, Dan Shikanda among others. The hosts Kamiti Main won the tournament 2 goals to 1 beating Nairobi Remand.