By Emelda Njoki
At only 11 years old, William Mwangi who hails from Kiambu County began the journey to pursue his dream in martial arts.
He would regularly train in taekwondo with his brothers at home before entering a contest and winning a black belt in Ethiopia in 2008. He went on and later won a silver medal at the African Championships, also held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2014
It is the deep passion he has for taekwondo that Mwangi, now a middle aged man, founded the Golden Eagles taekwondo club. This was in 2009 after he moved to Ngong, Kajiado County. The aim of this community based organization was to equip local youth with taekwondo skills. Those targeted were youth from Gichagi and Mathare slums, in Kajiado.
Mwangi had a difficult time promoting the sport in the area where residents associated it with violence seen mostly in Chinese movies.
With no well wishers or sponsors, Mwangi began to charge Sh 4,000 per month for training services. But only a few could afford, leaving out idle, jobless and drug addicted youth who needed this sport as a way of rehabilitation.
Mwangi then moved his club to Ngong Youth Empowerment Centre, where he could access a free training ground, using help from Philip Maombe, Ngong Youth Officer.
He sought financial assistance from various organizations to repair the facility and acquire more training equipment. Nothing was forthcoming even from Uwezo fund.
At this point, he approached Peter Kihika Njuguna, a community leader, who agreed to repair the floor and is now the official sponsor of the club. Joshua Murige, a former street boy, is now an assistant instructor at the club. He is considered one of the most successful graduates from the taekwondo club which has already trained 1,000 youth.
Mwangi laments lack of critical equipment at the centre and lack of support from the Kajiado County Government.
His dream remains building his own taekwondo Academy that will one day raise a team to the World Championships.
By Emelda Njoki