Meet Lilian Vaati, the 16-year-old number 9 striker for Syomunyu FC from Kitui, which clinched the Eastern Region Chapa Dimba Finals. Syomunyu FC beat Chuka Starlets 1-0 to claim the title and win Ksh.250,000/-
Even though she did not score the winning goal, Lilian was very instrumental in the win, having scored 2 of the 3 goals that saw them beat Mavoko Starlets and move to the finals. For this, she was recognized as top scorer and awarded an individual cash prize of Ksh.30,000/-
Lilian’s family is quite familiar with football, with her 2 brothers aged 18 and 13 being players. She therefore never faced any resistance when she started playing at just 7 years and her family is elated that her interest in football is already bearing fruit. She has, however, committed to balancing football with her academic pursuits in her quest to become a journalist in future. To make the best of both, she follows a strict timetable in which she also creates time for helping around at home.
As much as she dreams of being a journalist, she is also open to the idea that her football prowess could take her in the direction of sports as a career. She’s quite ambitious in this too and dreams of playing in the big leagues in the future.
Lilian admits that her standout performance during the finals at Kinoru caught her somewhat off guard, leaving her momentarily overwhelmed by the thrill of her team’s victory and her individual recognition as top scorer. She’s very grateful for Safaricom Chapa Dimba for providing the platform for her team to step out of local leagues at home to regional and now national level.
Her journey is not without hurdles though, one major one being battling injuries which are more prevalent in competitive tournaments like Chapa Dimba. In fact, she played the second half of the finals with an ankle injury, which makes the win even more worthwhile. Another challenge is financial strain in her family and she’s glad that her parent will be able to sort out the most urgent expenses with her prize money as top scorer.
Safaricom Chapa Dimba is a grassroots discovery and nurturing program that was first launched in 2017 to give young people between the ages of 16-20 years a platform to showcase their talent and get rewarded for their passion. The tournament has become a much sought-after event by local and international scouts seeking new, talented footballers.
Chapa Dimba not only offers youth a platform to showcase and improve their game, but also gives them exposure through traveling and playing competitively outside of their regions. Competitive sports give players hope and purpose and this impacts their overall growth even outside of the pitch.