This profile was prepared when Trevor Dudley was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
In their efforts to focus students on academic goals, teachers and parents in Uganda overlook critical developmental needs of children. Kids lack chances to play hard, learn teamwork and goal-setting, experiment with leadership, and pursue shared goals alongside children of diverse backgrounds. Drawing on his own childhood experiences and those of his kids, Trevor saw that sports–or, more specifically, a carefully structured sports league–could fill in many of the missing gaps in learning and skill development. To test this theory, he started a volunteer-run youth soccer league in Kampala in 1998. Now, five years later, the league offers thousands of children–boys and girls, Ugandans and foreigners, rich and poor–chances to train, strategize, win, lose, and grow up together. Building on the success of this initial effort, Trevor is now taking the league to rural Uganda, and indeed to all of East Africa, and using it to deliver social and heath messages to kids and engage parents and communities in nurturing and supporting children. By stimulating volunteer and corporate involvement in the league, Trevor is also introducing what promises to be an effective model of engagement for citizen efforts of all sorts.