Tell us about yourself
My name is Teddy Sirma and I’m 14 years old. I just completed my KCPE exams at Damascus Primary School. I am the first-born in a family of five and we live in Korogocho slums.
My father is a local pastor and my mother is a businesswoman. As a family, we help each other in overcoming life challenges and in schoolwork at the end of the day when we meet at home.
When did your passion for football begin?
It began way back in Class Three. At the time, Academy of Korogocho (Acakoro) had not been founded. I was playing in the school compound, sometimes with friends in the streets during weekends, using balls made of plastic bags.
When I heard about Acakoro recruitment in 2013, I was interested, and I got selected due to my skills. My passion got a lifeline and I have transformed into a vibrant and skillful player at the academy.
How did your parents react when they learnt about your passion?
They were delighted, and they have been supportive ever since.
Sometimes they take time out of their busy schedules to watch my matches, and these are some of the most inspiring moments in my life. Their support has given me a reason to work hard every day, both in school and in football. They were featured in a documentary on CNN about Acakoro in January 2018.
How do you balance football and school?
The two are my great focus, and I have allocated valuable time for each. I report to school every day from Monday to Friday, and to training Monday to Saturday from 4:30pm to 6:30pm. Two hours of training under one of the highly qualified football coaches at Acakoro.
Every day at the training gives me an opportunity to improve my football skills, and I always take every moment as a learning experience.
At school, I study to my level best all through the week, and after the daily training, I take an extra class provided by Acakoro at the facility.
What are some other ways the organisation has helped you become better?
It gives me an atmosphere where I can dream for big things both in school and in football. The organisation pays for my school fees, offers me free school uniforms, training kits, dinner and a tuition class, which sets me up for a bright future.
What are some ways you sharpen your gift?
Football is my gift and every day at training, I work hard to achieve my set objectives. I make sure I avail myself to the training before the rest of players, and I’m always attentive to the coach in order to learn.
I also create my own exercises at home to help perfect my skills. Again, I play with my teammates collectively and try as much as possible to learn from them.
Who are your role models in football?
My role model is Kenya national team skipper Victor Wanyama. I like to lead my team and steer hope and team spirit into them just like him. He is a good team player, which is what I like about him.
He has never given up hope to excel, and I find him resilient and aggressive on the pitch, both for English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur and Harambee Stars.
What’s your favourite subject?
My favourite subject is English, in which I am fluent, because I want to interact in this language wherever I go.
In my profession as a football player, I feel comfortable conversing in English. Also, every subject except Kiswahili is offered in English.
What would you like to be when you grow up?
I would like to be a special teacher and a professional football player. I wish to extend my hand to children living with disabilities in my community. I hope that becoming a special education teacher for young children will enable me help pupils that are often looked down upon intellectually by the society excel.
I would like to become a teacher who shows them support, patience, peace and believes them, so that hopefully they will believe in themselves too and be encouraged to face whatever hardships that are ahead of them.
Where have you played football before?
In school, in the street, and in the small community teams in Korogocho slums. I have played with my team Acakoro locally and abroad, winning various matches. I am ambitious and passionate of becoming a professional player known for his hard work and commitment, and that is why I joined the academy.
Advice to other kids?
Hard work, commitment, passion and discipline can take your dreams to greater heights. Football to me is not just a sport, it is something that constantly builds up patience, perseverance and interaction skills in me, and overall pushes me to try my best and to never give up.
This advice goes to every child in Kenya. I scored a lone goal against FC Barcelona in Vienna, Austria in 2015, and this made our team win the Donau-Auen Cup, one of the most prestigious and competitive youth football tournaments in Europe. Today, Victor Wanyama and Teddy Sirma are the only Kenyan footballers to have scored against FC Barcelona.