Undergraduate Honors Thesis


Playing for Change: Football and Community Building in East Africa Public Deposited

  • Football exists everywhere in Africa. It is played formally by professionals and members of football leagues, and it is played on the Eastern beaches by barefoot children who made their own ball out of plastic bags. Given the popularity of the sport, there is potential to use it to meet the needs of African communities in need of development. There is much literature available on the use of sports to meet development goals, but the process, means, and results of the use of football to do so is missing.. This paper analyzes how football has become a tool for meeting community building goals in East Africa. The community-building goals examined include health (especially in regard to HIV/AIDS), environmental preservation, girls’ empowerment, crime prevention, orphan aid, youth psychological development, community mobilization, education, poverty, and the like. In order for an organization to be effective in regards to meeting community-building goals, it must meet five criteria. First, initiatives taken by the organization should benefit the broader context of the community. Second, the organizations should be controlled largely by local people. Third, specific needs of the community must be targeted. Fourth, research must gauge whether project selection is driven by mission instead of opportunity, and the fifth criteria is that there is ongoing project and program evaluation. In this paper, three organizations are evaluated based on these criteria—Mathare Youth Sports Association, Elimu, Michezo na Mazoezi, and Grassroot Soccer. The first chapter provides background information about the use of sports as a tool to meet community development goals, defines community building, outlines the theoretical framework for effective community building, provides a literature review, and explains the author’s research methods. Chapter two provides details on the processes and programs of each of the cases. Chapter three connects theoretical frameworks defining the criteria for effective community building with the programs and implementation techniques of the case studies. This chapter uses the case studies as examples of how community building can be effectively addressed through the use of football, and examines how specific needs of communities are met by each of these organizations. Research revealed that football-based organizations can effectively meet community-building goals in East Africa.
Date Awarded
  • 2011-04-06
Academic Affiliation
Granting Institution
Last Modified
  • 2019-12-02
Resource Type
Rights Statement


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