Juliet Auma, now 26, was a member of the 2011 Homeless Wold Cup winning team from Kenya. Her passion for football is helping her to change her family’s future, as well as her own.
Juliet’s father died when she was only 10 and she and her five brothers were separated and moved in with relatives around Nairobi. Her relatives struggled to send them to school, but Juliet’s passion for football earned her a partial scholarship to a boarding school. She graduated in 2007, but explained, “There was no money to take me to college, so I came to Nairobi and struggled to find jobs.”
She found a job in a shop in 2009, but the distance from her cousin’s home meant she was forced to sleep on a mattress in the back of the shop. The shop soon closed, and she moved back in with her cousin, where she played football regularly with other girls in her neighbourhood.
A keen defender, she was invited to try out for the 2011 Kenyan Homeless World Cup squad. “We trained for seven months and then we went to France to compete with other countries,” she described. “The tournament took two weeks. Every country sends a boys and girls team. The year I participated, Kenya won the ladies tournament!”
During the run up to the 2011 Homeless World Cup in Paris, Juliet was playing in a football tournament in Dandora, Kenya, where she discovered Alive & Kicking, a social enterprise which produces high-quality, hand stitched sports balls. She approached the organisation and was offered a job as a stitcher.
“I really love Alive & Kicking. It has helped me to be what I am, and it has helped me to support my brothers so that they complete school,” Juliet said. “I’d like to see my family be in a better position and not have to hustle the way I’ve done. When I get my certificate in business management, I want to start my own business.”
The regular monthly income from Juliet’s salary pays for her younger brothers’ educations and helps support two older brothers who are looking for work.
In addition to her plans for further education and her own business, Juliet has dreams to returning to the Homeless World Cup. “You can only participate in the Homeless Wold Cup once, but I hope to go again as a coach or team manager.”
“Juliet is a talented, ambitious young woman. We have no doubt that if she were to be involved with the Kenyan team in the future, they would be a force to be reckoned with,” said a friend at Alive & Kicking.