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The Dulla Boys: Premier League Against All Odds
Jambiani is a poor village like many others found along the stunning tropical coastlines of Zanzibar. In a place where money is scarce and ambitions are modest, one man helped a group of local boys achieve what seemed an impossible dream. Now, it’s going to take a village to keep the dream alive.
Back in 2009, Adbdalla Mwinyi Juma, aka “Dulla,” was running a teaching and community volunteer project for African Impact in Jambiani. Seeing so many young boys hanging around in the streets instead of school, Dulla decided to use football as a carrot. He formed a youth football team, and explained that if they wanted to be trained as footballers, they had to join Dulla for after school studies, come to football training twice every day, and help African Impact volunteers with beach cleanup events. The original team was massive - over 40 kids strong! But due to Dulla's strict rules on studying as part of the team ethos, some of the boys left, and the number became more manageable.
By forming the first youth team, Dulla met with the elders and more teams were created up and down the village. Soon, the boys were playing competitive matches against each other and a small village league was created, sponsored by African Impact. This league continued for 5 years and became a huge event each year! Both Dulla Boys and Al Hapa Boys became good enough to play in the South East Coast league, then they just kept moving up through the divisions to play in 1st division in the 2018 season. In 2020 they received sponsorship from a Polish developer, which provided player salaries, equipment and transport to matches. After a season of wins the Dulla Boys were elevated to the Premiership League, where they sat at the top of the Leaderboard!
Then, tragedy struck. Their Polish sponsor went belly up and all funding suddenly stopped, just as they were hitting their stride. The boys were forced to take part-time work to survive, which takes away from their training. Over the years, Dulla had committed himself to supporting his players in making a future for themselves - he became like a father figure, not just a coach, and many of the boys benefited from Dulla paying for them to undertake studies in the areas they were interested in, like hotel management, chef, tour guide training, and driving classes. He helped their families support them if they passed Form 4 exams and were able to access higher education. He also used his contacts to help the boys gain employment, even if at first they were employed as trainees (on a salary of only $50 per month), he supported the boys to continue on the job, learn from their employer and fellow staff, until one day they too would earn a fair salary.
Dulla is currently struggling with the exorbitant cost of supporting his team in the Premier League - a division no one expected them to make, and that entails far higher expenses than any one coach can be expected to manage. That’s where SEC stepped in.
Members of the Parent Board of Southeast Coast International School, a community-based NGO, decided to get behind the Dulla Boys and embark on a fundraising campaign to keep their community team in the Premier League. We have always been able to count on the Dulla Boys to help with community events, and now they need our help. We are calling on our vast network of international families, friends, entrepreneurs, and expats who have come to call Zanzibar home, to help keep the dream alive for the Dulla Boys and all the local children inspired by their achievements.
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