Athiru Gaiti football club was crowned champions of the 2021/2022 Mzalendo Mazingira Tournament sponsored by Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance Executive Director Dr Mithika Mwenda commonly known as Mzalendo.
Athiru Gaiti were overpowered by Antubochiu in the first 15 minutes but later learned their mistakes before taking over the game for the rest of the playing time and managing to beat their opponents with a single goal.
The tournament, which kicked off on August 22, 2021, attracted a total of 57 teams from Igembe South sub-county and was organised in fixtures majorly played over the weekends.
Anchenge FC settled for the second runners up position in the tournament while Gitura FC were comfortable with the fourth position.
Besides receiving the uniforms and balls, all the teams which went up to the quarter-finals were given Sh15,000 each. They included Ikuu, Kambene, Riaki, and Thaicu football clubs.
Athiru Gaiti (Champions), Antubochiu (Ist runners up), Anchenge (second runners up) and Gitura football clubs took home, Sh100,000, Sh50,000, Sh40,000 and Sh30,000 respectively.
Speaking during the grand finale at Christ the King School Igembe that was attended by thousands of sports enthusiasts, Mzalendo said the tournament had been a journey worth remembering considering the challenges they had gone through.
“This, indeed, has been a journey worth remembering; we faced challenges, we faced resistance from adversaries, there were low and high moments, boulders were erected on our way; challenges were enormous; but by Grace of God, we triumphed!” Mzalendo said.
He said the well-attended event will go into annals of history as the moment the foundation of Igembe South sport development take-off was laid and all those who were present will be part of that history.
Apart from improving the talents of the local youth, Mzalendo also seeks to advance his conservation agenda through the young people from rural areas.
“Sports can be a powerful tool for mobilisation of environmental consciousness. Imagine if we turn all these youths from 57 clubs and their fans into our agents of consciousness, our agents of transformation,” he said.
He said he will seek partnership from relevant government ministries from both County and national governments to incorporate youth in sports to be the champions for climate and environmental consciousness.
He also announced a plan to provide opportunities for the best footballers in Igembe south by establishing Igembe South FC where players will be drawn from all the teams that participated in this tournament.
Already, 40 players who would constitute the Constituency Club have been identified by scouts and tacticians and will soon be brought together for common training.
“I have also committed to supporting clubs and players which demonstrate potential to top County and National Leagues. Ultimately sons and daughters of Igembe South will have a feel of what it means to be in top-league clubs, both at county and national levels,” Mzalendo said.
He assured the players and supporters that the Mazingira Tournament will not be a localized affair, but a pilot initiative whose success and lessons will be replicated not only in Meru County but also across the country in a Program driven by his organisation, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance to trickle down climate action and environmental conservation awareness at grassroots levels.
Mzalendo addressing sports enthusiasts at Igembe School after the end of the tournament