Kenyans affected by dwarfism are using sports to bring attention to the condition.
A group called the Short Stature Society of Kenya formed the first dwarf football team in East Africa. Its players are smaller than other adults because of a genetic or medical condition.
The group aims to show the players’ skills and fight unfounded claims about dwarfism.
Ruth Mueni is one of the founders of the team: the Lion Stars.
“It was a good idea to start it because it creates awareness about us, we need people to note about us, let us tell a story ourselves but not to let people tell a story about us.”
The Short Stature Society of Kenya has about 600 members. However, dwarfism affects an estimated 3,000 Kenyans. The Lion Stars use sports to bring people with the condition together.
There are no other dwarf teams nearby. The team plays friendly games against younger, local football teams.
Joseph Ochieng is the coach for one of those teams, the MacMilan Football Club.
“I think if they can get a good coach, if they can be motivated they can do very well, if they continue training they can beat other teams outside [of the area].”
In the United States, the game of European football is known as soccer.
Lion Stars team captain Joseph Maina is happy with his team’s progress.
“From the look of the games that they have played, I can say that from day to day, my guys have improved a lot. If we are to complete this journey and hit our target which is the World Dwarf games…they have to believe in themselves.”
However, Ruth Mueni notes that the team does have problems to overcome.
“In terms of equipment like the soccer balls that we are using, it’s not the normal balls; it is size four. We have one; we need more.”
Kenya’s Lion Stars hope to receive enough support to compete in the 2021 World Dwarf Games in Germany.
In addition to the soccer team, the Short Stature Society of Kenya also has a group of badminton players. They are expected to compete next month in a world championship event in Geneva, Switzerland.
I’m Jonathan Evans.
Sarah Kimani reported this story for VOANews. Jonathan Evans adapted her report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
awareness – n. knowing that something such as a situation, condition, or problem exists
coach – n. a person who teaches and trains an athlete or performer
guys – n. men
journey – n. trip
motivated – adj. eager to do work and to be successful