Football is more than just a game. It can also be a powerful tool for social change and community development. That is the idea behind the Tunguli Champions League, a football tournament that was held in Tunguli Village, Kilindi District, Tanga Region, Tanzania from June to July 2023.

The tournament was organized by SAWA, a local organization that works to improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in rural areas, in collaboration with Mission Morogoro, a UK-based charity that supports various projects in Morogoro Region. The goal of the tournament was to raise awareness and motivate people to construct toilets for the disabled and widowed families in the village, as well as to provide entertainment and fun for the villagers.

The tournament attracted 13 teams from different parts of the village, namely Jembe FC, Home Boys FC, Tunguli Squad FC, Tunguli Secondary School FC, Chinga Boys FC, Volcano FC, Mwenge FC, Nyamilemi FC, Stand FC, Kwiboma FC, and others. Each team had to meet a condition to qualify for the tournament: they had to build a toilet for a needy family in the village. The teams were divided into four groups and played round-robin matches to determine the top two teams from each group that advanced to the quarter-finals.

The quarter-finals were played on July 2, 2023, followed by the semi-finals on July 9, 2023. The final match was on July 13, 2023, between Tunguli Squad FC and Jembe FC. The match started at 15:00 at Tunguli Football Stadium and was attended by hundreds of spectators, including the sponsors and guests from SAWA and Mission Morogoro. The match was intense and exciting, but Tunguli Squad FC emerged as the winner with two goals against Jembe FC’s zero.

The winning team received a trophy, medals, and a cash prize of 600,000 Tanzanian shillings (about $300), while the runner-up received medals and a cash prize of 450,000 Tanzanian shillings (about $230). The third-place team received medals and a cash prize of 250,000 Tanzanian shillings (about $120). The prizes were handed over by the bishop of the Anglican Church in Kilindi District, who was also the guest of honor at the event.

The bishop praised SAWA and Mission Morogoro for their efforts in promoting WASH through football. He said that the tournament was a great example of how football can improve lives and bring people together. He also encouraged the villagers to continue building toilets and practicing good hygiene habits.

The captain of the winning team, Tunguli Squad FC, said that he was very happy and proud of his team’s performance. He said that the competition was very fair and it encouraged proper hygiene among the people in Tunguli Village. He also thanked SAWA and Mission Morogoro for organizing the tournament and supporting the village.

The tournament was not only about football. It was also about fun and entertainment. Before the final match, there were various activities that involved the villagers, such as dancing, and singing. One of the most amusing activities was the chasing of the cock, where a group of ladies from each participating team had to run after a live chicken and catch it. The lady who caught the chicken was awarded with it as her prize..

The tournament was a huge success and received positive feedback from the participants and spectators. It achieved its objectives of improving WASH in Tunguli Village and providing joy and excitement for the villagers. It also demonstrated how football can be used as a catalyst for social good and community development.

Key achievements of the tournament are 13 toilets for people with disabilities and widowed families were completed successfully and handed over to the users.  These toilets improved their sanitation and dignity, as well as reduced the risk of diseases and infections. The tournament also involved cleanliness at water points and households.

One of the beneficiaries was Mama Salma, a widow with four young children. She expressed her gratitude and happiness for receiving a toilet built by her community members.

“I am very thankful to everyone who contributed to this big gift for me and my children. Before, we had to go to the bush and occasionally we used our neighbour’s toilet, which was very difficult for us human being. Now, we have our own toilet, which is clean and comfortable. This has changed our lives for the better.” – (Mama Salma).

Mama Salma’s story is one of the many testimonies that show how the Tunguli Champions League made a positive impact on the lives of the people in the village. It was not only a fun and entertaining event, but also a meaningful and beneficial one. It was a true demonstration of how football can be more than just a game!