Sports are an important part of Daraja Academy, and many students are athletic in a variety of different ways. Football/soccer is one of the most popular sports in Kenya, matched in popularity only, perhaps, by running, and children who have the opportunity learn to play from an early age. 11 Daraja girls comprise its soccer team, only two of whom are Form 2s (the others are older). Josephine and Caroline, Form 2, love soccer and love being apart of this team. Josephine has been playing soccer since the fifth grade, and Caroline since the seventh. Both got to play at primary school, and practice at home on holidays. Last week, they played against some Danish volunteers who live nearby and, as per usual, beat them. “We play against them four or five times a year,” explained Josephine. “Last year they won once, I think.”

“They were good but we beat them,” explained Caroline – the score was 3 to 0. This reporter is not, and has never been, remotely athletic, so I’m always genuinely interested to learn why people “do” sports. I asked Josephine why she thinks soccer is fun when it involves so much running, which, in my experience, only causes pain, shortness of breath, and excessive sweating. She nodded, understanding my explanation, and countered with one of her own – ” When you feel pain you can still play through the pain. You reach a point where after awhile it just goes away and you keep playing,” she said. I’ve heard this explanation before, and while it sounds kind of mystical and unbelievable, enough people have suggested something similar that they must be on to something. But why, I asked, would you want to endure that initial pain in the first place? “When you had stress, you begin playing and you are relieved of that stress,” said Caroline. This actually makes sense, especially in light of the academic rigor Daraja girls face everyday. I can only imagine that, after working the mind so incredibly h