‘KLABU’ referring to “club” in Swahili, is a refugee charity that aims to better the lives of refugees by means of sports. The Amsterdam-based club was officially inaugurated in the month of May, with the help of volunteers from Amsterdam and Kenya.
The idea came into being when Charlotte Jongejan and Jan van Hövell, visited the refugee camps to learn that most of the population fell under the age limit of eighteen. However, the youth in these camps only had one goal regarding the future: to go back home.
Going home, however, is not a possibility for some of the refugees. Statistical analyses show that most refugees stay in the camps for a period of seventeen years at least. This may be because the camps offer a relatively better quality of life, with basic facilities like shelter, food, health care and an emphasis on attaining education which is not available back at home.
Launching the club was also fostered by the idea of making the refugees connect with one another. The camp comprised of people from all over the world, speaking different languages, following different religions and adapting to different cultures. To fill in the cultural gap, the vision KLABU came into existence.
Source: Wonderland Magazine
In an attempt to create a homely environment for the refugees, and to build an atmosphere of connection, optimism and some healthy competition, KLABU was launched. This helped spark interest in the youth living in these refugee camps and gave them a direction in life where previously there was none.
The organization worked with the local population to attain sports equipment to build the club from scratch. It relied on the assistance offered by volunteers from Amsterdam and Kenya to implement this vision accurately.
The inauguration of the KLABU brand was funded by a donation from the local and global public. The brand launched a soccer kit for both ‘home’ and ‘away’. Additionally, a lot of work went into creating uniforms that truly defined the Kalobeyei spirit. The uniforms were designed by Multiple Identities Studio, and Kelvin Govey, who was previously associated with Nike, as a design director.
The objective of KLABU is to manifest itself into a brand and eventually become a practical business. Currently, KLABU is aiming to find a global fan club, which can offer them support in promulgating more clubhouses.
With this goal in mind, the KLABU merchandise and the uniforms are available for purchase online. The mastermind of the club, Jongejan stated in an interview with Forbes, “We wanted to create a sustainable business model that would feed into the foundation side. That's where we came up with selling sportswear. One side is the business side, and the other is symbolic. Every person who wears a KLABU jersey is a walking billboard for what we stand for. It's more than a shirt, it's a badge of honour. You don't just wear a shirt because you like the colours, you wear it because you believe in what it stands for.”
The Kalobeyei club functions in a liberty-style format. The teams are initially asked to pay a specific amount to attain a loan kit and equipment. Next, the captain of the team assumes the responsibility for the provided equipment. Additionally, the local team comprising of club managers are expected to manage the rest of the operations for the teams.
Now, the Kalobeyei sports club has gained recognition all over the world. Currently, it has up to 10,000 members. The immediate plans for the club are to build at least two more clubs that can take care of all the members.
However, the initiative taken by the owners of the club further involves not getting immersed in the project. In contrast, they encourage the teams and the sport managers to operate on their own terms, to run an organization that is 100% proficient and community-oriented.
In addition to the clubhouses being planned for Kalobeyei, strategies to create clubs in Bangladesh and Rwanda is also in full swing. It is expected that by 2022, there would be forty sports clubs in function, constituting five thousand members in each club.
KLABU further aims to beat the world’s highest member score. Currently, Bayern Munich has the highest number of members. However, by 2022, KLABU expects to have more members than any other club in the world, thus making it the biggest sports organization.