How Soccer changed my life | Joseph Thumbi Wangige


Over the years here at IFX we have gotten to known not only talented footballers but also exceptional people sharing the same passion of football. Success is the result of dogged determination and focus while moving ahead in the path of hard work. This is particularly the case for Joseph Thumbi Wangige, a former IFX student who left his native Nyeri, Kenya and successfully overcame many hardships throughout his life, first as a young boy who escaped the life living on the streets, with torn clothes and bare feet to become an exclusive and incredible hopeful gentleman.

This is Joseph's inspirational success story he wanted to share and we love to spread it. Enjoy it!


My life stretches well beyond the time I was rescued by the late Brother Dominic Jordan who by then was the principal of St.Mary's boys secondary school and street children rescue centre. I can't find good enough words to describe his introduction of the rescue centre and how it has become a sanctuary to thousands of many hopeless, orphans and vulnerable kids. May his soul rest in peace.

In 1998 I was rescued and taken to the centre fresh from the streets and it was a struggle adapting to the new life which I never knew would help me shape my destiny. Since I was at the centre as a ten or twelve years old boy, I remember always being with a soccer ball. I went through primary school and


thereafter I joined St. Mary's Boys secondary school in 2004. I recall my most memorable time in high school helping my school qualify for the National Soccer Championship in 2007 and was named Most Valuable Player.

As a young boy I started just playing on the roads, streets and in the slums. When I got older I would go to watch games especially when the national team played. I wanted to see my heroes and imagine myself as them.

My biggest excitement was in 2007 when I met Richard McKay through the late Brother Dominic and he (Richard) was dazzled with my talent he promised to support my education and soccer talent. I always reflect on Brother Dominic Jordan telling me I was the best player in the school. He always pushed me to my limits through education and soccer.


My breakthrough and dream to make it to professional soccer came in 2015, when Richard McKay, Brother Peter Kombe and International Futbol X-Change President Michael Carlson pulled together to ensure I had the best possible shot at pursuing my only passion of soccer. I made to England, I went to live with a host family that I didn't even know! They took me in, they took care of me and did everything to help me so I could focus on my education and my soccer. They always always turned out to cheer me on with pride as I made twists and turns on defenders while wearing the Newport FC Isle Of Wight soccer club jersey. Each time I took to the pitch, it was an opportunity to show my gratitude to every donor who made it possible and to every kid rescued from the street life in Nyeri-Kenya.

It was while in England I enrolled for a soccer coaching course and the IGCSE in English and Maths at Isle Of Wight College. I successfully completed the Sports Diploma and was presented the certificate of achievement as the best student. The same year of 2017 I was presented with an award by the High Sheriff of Isle of Wight in recognition of outstanding achievement . It is an award that recognizes the appreciation of the residents and people of the said High Sheriff's county for activity and contribution in enhancing the life of the community. I was awarded in regards to my selfless actions coaching kids with special needs movements and basic soccer skills, tactics and techniques.

In 2018 I went back home (Kenya) after my studies and started volunteering at St.Mary's and it is while working for the centre another big opportunity came calling. I applied for Camphill America through my Isle of Wight college career adviser as a co- worker (volunteer). Camphill is an International community sharing a common goal: To create a place in which individuals with developmental differences can live dignified and full lives surrounded by community. There are ten Camphill Communites in the USA. I am currently in New York State where I am volunteering using my soccer coaching course to help with movement therapy and attending to an orientation course. Anthroposophy. Spiritual Science (Social therapy). I have come to realize how lucky enough I am to be working with persons with special needs. I am very happy to be learning along the way. So many kids grew up and didn't have the chance to see their dreams come true. I went through hard times and barriers from four times being denied a visa to Germany and one to USA but I never gave up. I am young and a living testimony. I am building myself and I always want to improve my mum's and my sibling's lives. Every day is another chance to work hard to get closer to being successful. Thank you IFX for introducing me to the world of opportunities.

Joseph Thumbi Wangige.

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