Why Richard Odada's foundation is focusing on empowering young Kenyan girls in football

Odada donating foodstuffs in Kajiado last December as part of his initiative to empower the community

FOOTBALL Why Richard Odada's foundation is focusing on empowering young Kenyan girls in football

Mark Kinyanjui 18:00 - 22.01.2024

Why Harambee Stars star Richard Odada wants young girls in Kenya to have their lives transformed through his foundation.

Harambee Stars midfielder Richard Odada wants to help as many girls in the community to get a chance to eventually make it big in their careers.

Odada, who spent his mid-season break from Danish side AaB Fodbold in Kenya, notably attended a number of grassroots tournaments and even helped with works of charity to the people of Kajiado County during the festive season.

All these moves were part of his initiative, the Richard Odada Foundation, which aims at helping the members of the local community - especially those from the ghetto - get a chance to stand on their own two feet and get as many opportunities as they can to better their lives.

“It is a platform to help everyone,” Odada said in an exclusive interview with Pulse Sports.

“You have to present us something you have and we can push together. I decided to start the foundation because there are talented people.

“I grew up in the ghetto and almost 95 percent of footballers came from such areas and pushed hard until they got to the highest level, including the likes of Michael Olunga and Victor Wanyama.

“However, they know the challenges that come with growing in such areas, which is why I came up with the foundation in order to help people understand that, you don’t need to rely on donations and well-wishers, you can also do something for yourself.”

Odada attended numerous local tournaments and even organized one himself in Kajiado and appreciated the efforts that were made to help the youth have something to keep them busy to prevent them from indulging in unorthodox activities.

“The foundation aims at helping talented people to stand on their own two feet. We need more quality football  I was in many tournaments in December and I saw how things worked.

“Of course it was not bad as everyone has their own tournaments with rules that we have to respect and everything but I appreciate those who have given young boys and girls a chance to hone their skills.”

Odada’s foundation aims at empowering the girl child in particular as he noticed that the gender has been suppressed a lot in many ways, including with the prize money, where in most cases, ladies' teams were only getting a quarter of what the boys’ teams won.

“I want to focus on girls mostly so that they can get equal opportunities as the boys. Of course, we have seen how women’s football is growing because we even have a league structure for women, but more still needs to be done.

“We cannot keep saying that we only want to focus on boys making it to the highest of levels and playing in leagues like LaLiga or EPL, we also want girls to be given such exposure, especially considering even Harambee Starlets are doing well.

“I noticed during the tournaments that boys were being given more money than girls, let's say like, boys were getting one million shillings in cash price while girls were only getting 300,000 which I don’t think is right.

“That is why I want to get into investing in girls because they also have feelings, which is why I want to help them get to the highest levels as most disappear into early pregnancies and other challenges because both genders have different needs.”

Odada is also sympathetic to the vulnerability of the girl child in contrast to the boychild, even though his foundation will empower both genders.

“I could impregnate a girl and deny that the kid is mine, a woman by contrast does not have such luxury as she won’t hide it. Either she will give birth or use other painful means.

“A guy will hide and people will perceive you as clean not knowing that there is a problem. Girls suffer a lot and in my foundation, I want to help them become independent.”

Odada has called upon well-wishers to help his foundation in whatever way they can, even though it is minimal as it will go a long way in helping even just one female player.

“I could help those in need for school fees to get catered for, and also started initiatives like tailoring because it will help them make a living from mending clothes in order to earn something extra after football.

“It is step by step. I am planning on starting a football league soon but there will also be charity as well where we can donate foodstuffs and other things to needy people.”

“It is not something for myself, it is about the community and we cannot do it on our own.

“We can start small, even if it means donating just one sanitary pad, it will help a girl, so we need more well-wishers to help donate anything, bibs, balls, they will help a lot.”

Odada has recently risen to prominence as a Harambee Stars player ever since making his debut in 2021 and he is now back in Denmark as he is helping AaB achieve their target of returning to the top flight of Danish football as soon as possible.

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