Submitted by Nicole Enerson
Cameroonian soccer star, Samuel Eto’o, encourages young athletes at a “green soccer tournament” in Rift Valley Province, Kenya
The Laikipia Wildlife Forum, a USAID partner for the past 10 years, hosted a 6 week “green tournament” in Laikipia District. The aim of the Laikipia Beyond Unity Cup (LUC) was “to harness the power of sports and the enthusiasm for the World Cup to score goals for unity, peace and environmental awareness in the often troubled district of Laikipia”.
Throughout the tournament, thousands of people were drawn together from all over the district and representing every ethnic group and most major institutions in Laikipia – including commercial farms, wildlife conservancies, the provincial administration, government Ministries, the British Army and the Kenyan Air Force. The tournament, organized by the Zeitz Foundation in cooperation with UNEP, and sponsored by Safaricom, was the first of its kind bringing together a total of 32 teams.
As well as football, the LUC weekend gatherings also held a wide range of environmental activities such as local clean-ups, tree planting, and environmental discussions. In addition, free medical treatment was provided to tournament spectators and participants. Doctors, dentists, and VCT (voluntary counseling and testing for HIV) counselors treated over 12,000 people.
Cameroonian footballer and UNEP Goodwill Ambassador, Samuel Eto’o, was the patron of the tournament. Eto’o, along with tournament participants took the LUC green pledge: “The Earth is our home and together we must conserve our precious water, land, forests and wildlife. I am proud to pledge that I will unite with others throughout Laikipia and that I will give a red card to environmental destruction and defend our natural heritage”. Before leaving, Eto’o dedicated his first goal of the new season to Laikipia District.