Female football players came from across Turkana last weekend for a groundbreaking football tournament in Lodwar, the first of its kind in Turkana. Supported by the Australian High Commission in Kenya, the Desert Roses Football Tournament was organised by former Kenya Women’s Premier League player, Rael Nkoi Lomoti, who established a women’s team and league in Turkana in 2019.
Having played football at the highest level in the Kenya, Rael returned to her home County of Turkana with a mission to use football to bring social change in her community – a paradox given that women’s football is not a preference for many in this part of Kenya. The Desert Roses project is empowering the women and girls of Turkana by offering life skills training and opportunities to play football within and outside the County.
More than fifty young women from across Turkana played football in soaring heats in front of hundreds of Lodwar residents. Women’s football does not always receive the support and recognition it deserves, and this weekend’s tournament was an amazing achievement and milestone,” said Desert Roses Football Club founder, Rael Nkoi Lomoti.
The Desert Roses project has created a community for young women in Turkana providing support and motivation to live their best lives, she said. “I am proud of all the young women who played over the weekend – they are inspiring a new generation of young female footballers in Kenya and beyond,” Ms Nkoi said.
Australian High Commissioner to Kenya, Mr Luke Williams, was in Lodwar to watch the Desert Roses Football Tournament and donated football equipment including boots, balls and nets.
Mr Williams said he was pleased to represent Australia and show its support for the Desert Roses Football Tournament in Lodwar, Turkana. “Australia strongly believes in the power of sport to drive positive change in society, and I would like to personally recognise the Desert Roses founder, Rael Nkoi Lomoti, for empowering the women and girls of Turkana through this groundbreaking football initiative,” he said.
Mr Williams said Australia is excited to host the FIFA Women’s World Cup in July this year, and looks forward to seeing more East African representation its national teams as well as at the elite level in future Women’s World Cups.
Australia is supporting several football initiatives in East Africa including the East Africa Cup taking place in Moshi, Tanzania, from the 28th June to 2nd July 2023; and Barefoot to Boots, an initiative supporting young people living in the Kakuma Refugee Camps and their host community. Barefoot to Boots was founded by professional footballer and Young Australian of the Year, Awer Mabil, and his brother Awer Bul.
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