About us


Shamas Rugby Foundation (SRF) was set up by Azim Deen, a leading Kenyan businessman, in June 2012. 

SRF is a Sport for Development program that uses the sport of rugby and its values to teach Life Skills Education to boys and girls living in disadvantaged areas in Kenya. There are many challenges faced by children living in these environments. We believe that by building children's confidence and self awareness on and off the pitch, we can empower them to make better decisions in their lives, create better opportunities for themselves and enable them to live more fulfilling lives.


SRF teaches the children these values found in Rugby:

Rugby gives children a positive outlet to display their talent. SRF prides itself on the way we encourage and support our children to learn new sporting and life skills. We instill confidence in the children to go and make decisions on the pitch, not being afraid of making mistakes, so that they learn in a positive and supportive environment. By changing the way children think, we can have a positive impact on their attitudes and behaviors, and help them become better people and contribute more to their communities.

This approach helps the children to cope with the living conditions they face in the areas they live in. Many parents are faced with high unemployment making it hard for their children to complete school, be clothed and fed and cared for. Many of the children are exposed to sexual, physical and emotional abuse and come form broken families. Some of the children have absent parents or are orphaned and raised by extended family or friends.

The consequences of these factors mean that many children lack self-belief and show this with poor interpersonal skills. This tough background has an affect on a child's attitudes and behaviors.


Rugby Program


What is it?

Weekly rugby clinics in over 25 primary and secondary schools, reaching over 1'000 children. 

Sunday rugby training in 3 clinics in Nairobi (Kibera, Mathare, Eastlands) attended by over 600 boys and girls.

End-of-the-month tournaments organised to have all children from all clinics play competitive matches, with the participation of guest schools and clubs.




Making rugby accessible to disadvantaged children. Exposing more Kenyan boys and girls to rugby. Well organised and enjoyable games for many children to participate in. Keeping children off the streets and giving them positive focus.


Life Skills Education



Running a unique rugby-related life skill course (6 days) during the school holidays throughout the year. Running Life Skill talks after each rugby session run by SRF coaches.


Better players make better people. Enabling children make better and more effective decisions in life. For example saying no to drugs and under age sex, improving self awareness and respect for oneself to stand up to abusers and ask for help, finding inner drive to work hard and focus on education and career goals. 

Leadership Programme



We identify children with the right characteristics and teach them how to be responsible leaders. We run an interactive syllabus where the children develop interpersonal skills, problem solving and improve their confidence and self-esteem. Some of these children will be offered volunteer rugby positions at Shamas.


Developing coaches from within with the right philosophy of giving back to the community. Providing job opportunities and forging new leaders and role models in the communities. 

International Rugby Tours


Selecting 20 children from across our settlements to play rugby abroad.


Representing Kenya and SRF on International duty. Creating pride amongst family and community. Meeting new friends from different Countries and cultures, Gaining valuable life experiences and education. Building inner belief and confidence in one's ability. Passing on knowledge and leadership to others.





Azim Deen

Founder, trustee and main sponsor

Azim has a passion for rugby having played at school. Azim is a successful businessman in Kenya who now wants to give back to poor communities in large settlements in Nairobi.

"I sent my son, Zayn to a community rugby programme for children living in Kibera when he was the age of 5. I wanted him to learn the game and also mix with disadvantaged children, so he would get an appreciation of the important things in life. Unfortunately in 2012 the programme lost funding and was going to stop. I saw this as a good opportunity to take ownership of the programme"




Edoardo arrived in Nairobi in February 2014 to work in Development Finance. In January 2015 he got in contact with Will Ferguson, former Head of Operations at SRF. A former rugby player in Italy, France, and Austria, he started volunteering with the organization as Coach of the U13 Boys team that toured Bristol in Nov. 2015. In August 2015 Edoardo was nominated CEO of SRF by the BoD after the departure of Will Ferguson. His main role is to grow the organization in Nairobi and Kenya and to work on the fund raising strategy for the upcoming years. 



Will Ferguson


Will arrived in Nairobi in 2012 with his wife’s work for the UN. A qualified physiotherapist and rugby enthusiast started working with the SRF to help improve their structure and growth. Will became Head of Operations in 2014 and left Kenya in 2015. He is still helping the organisation and is member of the Board of Directors.

"There are many charities that use sport as a tool to help disadvantaged children. Those that have played rugby will understand the special bond that develops between players, for me no other sport emphasises teamwork quite like rugby. At Shamas we are in a privileged position to go much deeper than sport and help our children face up to the realities of poverty. We use life skill education to help children   

make the right choices by understanding each other and themselves. 

The children I have worked with are amazing individuals and they should be commended for their perseverance and resilience. They have taken to rugby with unbelievable  enthusiasm and we have created a family to support and encourage each other".




Ann works in our office in Westlands helping with the daily running of the Foundation. Ann has a previously worked for Standard media and has also worked in England.

Ann had no previous experience working with rugby but has grown to enjoy the game. " I can see how much fun the boys and girls have playing rugby. I'm very proud to work for Shamas and can see how rugby can benefit the children and help them focus at school. One of my many jobs is to speak with the families and get to know the difficulties they face raising children and trying to find work. The parents really appreciate the amount of detail and attention we put into their children."



Jordan arrived in Kenya in September 2013 to pursue her studies. The Pennsylvanian native soon fell in love with Kenya and joined SRF in October 2015. With a Master’s degree in counseling psychology and World Rugby Strength and Conditioning Coaching Level I certification, she serves as the Girl’s Rugby Coordinator. She was selected for the 2015 Kenya Lioness Fifteen’s, bringing the Elgon Cup back to Nairobi. She is active in the development of the game among universities and is the matron of the United States International University Africa women’s team.

“I first came to the game of rugby in 2010 and knew instantaneously this was for me. From game dynamics of strength, speed, skill, and team cohesion, it is a sport that truly involves genuine team effort. My journey as an athlete has given me so much knowledge and confidence both on and off the pitch. The ladies I serve within SRF are truly an inspiration and testament to natural talent and undeniable strength and beauty. As women it is important to strive for excellence while fulfilling personal dreams and honoring the cultures we come from. SRF provides platforms for young ladies to discover field talents, build basic life skills, and value education; an education that will project them into future careers and athletic opportunities.” 







Bob has spent his career in sport, much of it as Director of Sport, Exercise and Health at the University of Bristol. His particular interest has been in coaching, and he was the only person to be awarded staff coach status in both the National Cricket Association and the RFU. He coached these sports to a high level, including England students and Bristol Rugby, English Universities and Oxford University cricket.

At Bristol University, Bob established one of the first high-performance programmes for students in the UK. Three former members of this programme gained medals in the 2012 Olympic Games and many others have excelled on the international sporting scene.

Bob was a leader in the development of the National Coaching Foundation (now Sports Coach UK) and was for eight years the Minister of Sport representative on the South West Sports Council.

He has been a member of the Council of the Rugby Football Union since 1995. During this time, Bob was instrumental in developing the first strategy for the development of elite performance in English rugby, and he served on player and coach development committees. He was President of the RFU in 2013-14.

Bob has been coming to Kenya for 20 years and has been instrumental in advising the KRU on some of their rugby appointments. He has raised funding for many organisations in Kenya and SRF were please to meet Bob and invite him to our programme in 2014. Since then Bob has been supporting our UK tours to Moulsford (2014) and Bristol (2015) and has been representing our organisation in the UK.




Gary was National Player Development Manager with the RFU since 2010 and joined Bristol Rugby in 2014.

As well as working closely with local schools and combination clubs to increase the quality of provision available to players in the city, Gary's roleencompasses all aspects of player and coach development across the Academy's Developing Player Programme (DPP), Elite Player Development Group (PDG) and Full Time Academy.

Few people have as much experience when it come s to rugby development in the UK. Gary is responsible for the new law changes affecting 7-14 year olds which were introduced in 2015. 

Gary was introduced to SRF by Bob Reeves having known him through his work at the RFU and in Bristol. Gary has been a key player in helping SRF forge it's rugby coaching philosophy. Gary passionately believes that rugby coaching should be interactive, fun, and encourage as much hands on experience for the players as possible. He advocates the use of games instead of drills allowing the children to make decisions and learn form their experiences.

Gary helped organise a fantastic tour to Bristol in 2015 building stronger links with local rugby clubs, schools and Bristol Rugby. He ran IRB level coaching course and came out to visit us in 2015. We hope to see him back in Kenya coaching soon.