We all have our means of escaping the seemingly never-ending Monday through Friday work week. Some of us like to grab a beer with a friend while others like to get their dose of bar hopping. For the Buffalo Bantu Football Club, sports is their escape.
Buffalo Bantu was founded in 2005 by Jama Ali, Kabirow Kaboke, Mohamud Abdulaziz, Jamal Hassan Yasin Musa, and Hamadi Shebule The team formed in order to keep the community tightly-knit and to give the kids something to occupy their weekends. The team is officially a part of the Buffalo & District Soccer League (BDSL).
Jama Ali says having this league gives younger children something to aspire to. When the soccer team was on a short hiatus, he noticed kids getting into trouble on the streets. Once the team started back up, kids started training and had something to focus their energy on.
“Instead of wasting time on the streets, they can come train with us. Our mission and vision is to provide a community soccer club to develop a relationship with the Somali-Bantu kids. If they have nothing else going on, this is a way to spend their weekends.”
Ali proudly shared that Buffalo Bantu is the only Eastern-African team in the league. They practice three days a week, even when they don’t have a game.
“It keeps kids off the street and prevents them from getting into trouble,” Ali said.
Buffalo Bantu player and Promoter, Mohammed Hussein, said the team also brings a part of their home to Buffalo.
“Ever since we’ve found this club, we helped our youth stay focused in a sport that was very common back home. A lot of the kids on this team did not receive education back in Africa but football (soccer) was always a huge part of their lives. When moving to the United States as refugees, there were of course language and financial barriers. I can’t explain in words how excited these kids were to finally begin to have the ability to learn and enjoy playing soccer . . . Furthermore, I’m going to go back to the roots of Africa and how we did things traditionally there. Whenever there were weddings we celebrated it with playing a soccer match for the couples and playing with a trophy on the line. That traditional aspect of our lives helped us establish the idea to play Bantu’s teams from Rochester, Utica and Syracuse,” he said.
The Buffalo Bantu schedule can be found on the BDSL website. You can also check out thekaribunews.com for the schedule.