Georgina Auma, 31, is a deaf footballer and coach imparting skills to people living with similar challenges. She is currently the Deaf Footballers Association of Kenya Secretary General
Barry Silah @obel_barry
Tell us about yourself
I am a footballer and coach based in Nakuru. I might not have played professionally, but my passion for the sport cannot be questioned by anyone. Growing up, I was active and I loved being physically fit. I always took part in school games where I learnt the skills and values around football that hasve made me what I am today.
I am deaf, but understand everything around me. My condition has made me appreciate so many things about life. At the moment, I am imparting skills to seven girls in my region and still scouting for more in the football arena.
What has been the journey for you as a person with hearing impairment?
Actually, I was not born deaf. At the age of nine I became sick and doctors diagnosed me with a hearing problem. It was a bit tough to take it in. Over time I adjusted. Importantly, I think the community around me and my family, especially have walked with me all the way.
I have learnt to accept myself and others with the same situation. Football has to a large part made me feel appreciated, so this talent was godsend. Education has also been a key mileage for me because I understand things around the game and the people I work with and I thank my parents for helping make something out of myself.
What drives you?
Somebody once told me happiness is the key to a long life and I certainly agree. I am taking everything in stride because I love myself. From childhood, I have been outgoing and energetic, which has somehow endeared me to many people.
In this life, staying positive is important and especially when you have a sensitive condition such as a hearing impairment. We meet as a community often and just have fun. I have made friends across the spaces because of my free spirit. I believe I am not different, but blessed differently.
You have a project in Nakuru county, tell us about it?
We run the Flamingo Deaf Football team with a couple of friends. We are trying as much as possible to keep the deaf community involved with sports as a way to keep them healthy and preoccupied. So far, seven girls are involved in the project, which is encouraging, but of course we are still out there evangelising.
Our programmes have run into other neighbouring counties such as Laikipia, Bomet, Kericho and Uasin Gishu. Through the Deaf Football Association, we are also working on other plans to keep the programme running.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Communication. For one to have dialogue with people like us, they need to have patience to learn our language, period. It has been overwhelming, but now at least we are seeing some efforts to recruit and train interpreters. Another thing is that not so many people believe in us because they think we cannot express ourselves well enough.
I feel most of these actions are driven by ignorance and lack of awareness. However, one of the biggest hindrances to the deaf community is lack of funding and facilitation for their programmes and I could personally attest to this. We are mostly an afterthought, which should not be the case because we deserve respect, love and attention too.
Are you dating somebody?
(Laughs)…Unfortunately not, in fact, I am single until I find the one. However, that does not mean I have a boring social life; far from it. I like to dance, interact and make new friends. I also love travelling to meet new people and interact with nature.
My biggest love, however, is football; at no time will you get me without a ball; either I am on the pitch with the children or my fellow senior players or I am attending a related event. It makes me happy.
Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
I want to keep my foot on the ground and focus. Football will take me places so I want to learn more. It is my wish and hope to play for the Harambee Starlets and then eventually get football badges and licence. It is all mapped out clearly and so for me, it is all about patience and going the extra mile to better myself.
My mission is to help break the ceiling and encourage other girls to join in my cause. If it works, then I will be grateful because in my own way, I would have contributed to change in perception.