Amos Kimani, football coach
As a child, Amos Kimani attended the Dagoretti Child Protection and Development Centre, where he discovered a passion - and a talent - for football. Today, he's a qualified FIFA coach.
Amos Kimani grew up in Kinangop, a region in Kenya with the Rift Valley to the west and the Aberdare mountain range to the east. Amos' mother was the sole provider for the family and moved them to Nairobi in an effort to find better-paid work in the city. But life became more difficult.
"I was young and vulnerable, but I started selling sugarcane and collecting scrap metal to sell. I was labelled 'chokora', a word for street children," Amos remembers. Whilst working, Amos met a staff member from the Amref Child Protection and Development Centre in Dagoretti, who invited him to visit. The Centre was set up twenty years ago to provide a safe space for children to receive education, training, regular meals, healthcare, counselling – and support to follow their dreams.
Amos began attending the Centre regularly; enrolled in cooking classes and began work as a chef, earning a regular wage. Knowing he could support himself, he was able to play football in his spare time – and that is where his real passion began.
The importance of giving back
Amos not only loved playing football but found he was talented: and that meant he had a way to give back. Amos trained as a football coach and went on to form a football team for girls, the Soccer Queens, several of whom have gone on to receive sponsorship to play football professionally.
Today Amos is a qualified FIFA coach and Dagoretti Centre Champion. "The Centre gave me an opportunity to dance, eat and be happy with other children, which is why I give back to my community."
Right: Amos photographed by Henry Thuo in 2021
We were exposed to harsh lifestyles in the streets: but I survived, and it is all because of the Centre. It is a place that continues to give me joy, contentment and fulfilment. It is a place I call home.
Sport for Health
From 2020 to 2022, Amref Health Africa UK supported the Dagoretti Centre to deliver a two-year project, Sport for Health, giving more than 4,500 young girls and women living in Nairobi's informal settlements the opportunity to play sports: football, taekwondo, and volleyball. The sports clubs also serve as a safe space where young people can acquire reliable information on sex and relationships, enabling them to exercise their rights and make informed choices.
With thanks to The Postcode Global Trust, The SOL Foundation and The Clifford Chance Foundation for supporting this project.