This profile was prepared when Bob Munro was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Bob created the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) in 1987 to establish strong ties between young people, sports, and development. Starting in one of the largest, most disadvantaged slums in Africa, today MYSA is the largest youth sports league on the continent and is recognized worldwide as a trailblazer organization. While football (soccer) is central to MYSA’s work, Bob has established an extensive program to empower youth living in slums and similarly inhospitable areas around the world. MYSA effectively recruits young people, develops values like teamwork and community engagement, and provides opportunities for leaders to emerge and be recognized. All the while, being owned, led, and spread through these young leaders themselves. Community service programs are as essential as athletic competitions in everything from the way points are tallied to the decisions made by MYSA’s youth executive council. Therefore, to succeed in the program, a young person must be active both on the field and off. In this way, Bob and the young leaders of MYSA have been successful in pairing the development of youth athletic programs with improvements in community infrastructure. Today, MYSA’s program has expanded to over twenty countries and is renowned in the development field. Additionally, it is known worldwide for its accomplishments in sports and has produced many star athletes. Indeed, all alum’s serve as role models for young people, and thanks in part to the ethics and values they developed while involved with MYSA, they have continued to serve their communities in immeasurable ways.