Founded in 1987, the Mathare Youth Sports Association's (MYSA) key asset is that it is owned and managed by young people themselves. Its vision is for every child to reach their full potential. To do so, it uses sport, in particular football, in combination with community outreach and development activities, to give young people the skills and confidence they need to aim higher, achieve more and improve their lives.
MYSA's aim is provide the youth in Nairobi's slums with a chance to excel on and off the playing field, through self-help, sporting and other development activities. It works to prevent physical and mental violence through peace building and conflict resolution, to bring young people together, to provide a safe space for recreation, to empower, to inform and educate and to help build and strengthen communities. The pursuit of MYSA’s vision is solely enabled through sports and athletic activities, which also help with health outreach, particularly around HIV/AIDs.
The organisation has been nominated for a number of prestigious prizes, including the Nobel Peace Prize. Over its history MYSA has expanded its activities from soccer training and games to include other sports as well as arts, culture, health, education, community library and collective clean up schemes. It has also created recreational spaces. There are 16 active MYSA zones throughout the Mathare Valley and neighbouring slums, and the organisation has also grown to include projects in the Kakuma refugee camp in North Western Kenya, as well as in Botswana, Tanzania, South Sudan and Uganda. In total, the organisation has directly impacted over 200,000 young people.