Mercy Mbago is determined to start a women’s ultimate program in Kenya, a country where women are often deprived of equal rights and discouraged from playing sports. But she needs help if she’s going to make it happen.
“Ultimate has become part of my life and has brought happiness to me other than being just a game,” Mercy explains. “Ultimate has enabled me to improve on my self esteem and confidence since I get to share ideas with my teammates and train new players. I would really love to share this with other women.”
Impressed by her passion, the Kenyan Flying Disc Association (KFDA) is willing to allocate $1,000 (a solid living wage in Kenya) to hire Mercy after she competes in the World Championships of Beach Ultimate (WCBU). The money would pay for Mercy to travel all over Kisumu and Western Kenya to teach the basics of ultimate and recruit new female players from schools and community groups.
For Mercy, this would be an opportunity of a lifetime to both spread her love for ultimate with new players and become gainfully employed.
Two major obstacles stand in Mercy’s way: finding a team to play on and the money to pay for it all.
Due to the lack of female players, KFDA decided early on to send only a men’s team to WCBU. Discussions for Mercy to join Uganda’s mixed team fell short, but Mercy was able to secure a roster spot through the Currier Island women’s team just five months before competition.
Now, Mercy needs to raise the money to get to Worlds.
“Mercy has had some serious hardships in her life, having lost her parents at an early age and being currently unemployed,” says Mike McGuirk, the coach of Kisumu, Mercy’s club team.
“l was looking for a job in order to pay for my [tuition] fee and my day to day,” adds Mercy. “But that has been in vain. Currently I am staying with my sister, who is also struggling financially to make ends meet. As for me, I knit mats just to enable me to go about the day.”
Landing the year-long position with KFDA would be life-changing for Mercy. Kenya’s men’s team, which is made up of Mercy’s Kisumu teammates, is doing everything they can to help cover her trip. “We are a tightly-knit team that she sometimes calls a family,” says McGuirk. “We want to make this trip possible for her.”
With the help of Team Kenya, Mercy is only short $500-$1,000 from having her trip fully covered.
How US Teams Can Help
San Francisco Fury has also pitched in by promoting the Kenyan fundraiser jerseys with Mbago’s name and number on it.
“Mike is a friend of mine and he reached out to me for fundraising advice,” says Fury player Anna Nazarov. “Our team tries our best to live up to the Without Limits ‘pay it forward’ model. Most of us were fortunate to learn ultimate in a setting with incredible female role models and leaders. It’s hard to be the first at something, to go at it alone. Mercy seems driven and passionate about bringing the sport back to the women in her country. You can’t not be excited and supportive of that!”
Want to support Mercy Mbago and her trip to WCBU? Here are a few easy ways:
- Order a Kenyan jersey before January 25th (and wear your jersey at WCBU!)
- Donate via PayPal to KenyaFrisbee@gmail.com
- Share this article and the jersey order form on social media
- Write your words of encouragement in the comment section below
Let’s show Mercy the strength of the global frisbee community and welcome her with open arms at WCBU.