Football for Female Empowerment in Developing Countries

ORIGINAL POST: 9/19/2009

One of the biggest challenges faced by Coaches across Continents is how to include teenage girls within our programs? In most developing countries, by the time a girl has become a teenager, she is often expected to look after her brothers and sisters, take care of household chores and often has to leave school. Sport is not on her list of things that she can do.

Even more challenging is changing traditions that include rape, prostitution and teenage marriage.

We believe that change will only be brought about through challenging the traditions and giving choice to these young girls. Our programs include games that deal specifically on Football for Female Empowerment. Games include: The Power of Choice, The Power of No and The Power of the Mind. In Tanzania, in July 2008, we introduced their first ever women’s program. On the first day, we had 4 young women attend but by day three, the number was up to 38. Easily the most noticeable difference between the boys and the girls was the lack of fitness in the girls. Easy tag games had them breathing heavily. Balance and agility was another problem. By day three, hundreds of people in the community would attend the sessions to watch and we could see the confidence of the young women increase by the hour. Importantly, we could also see that the men in the community were taking the women more seriously and with more respect.

There is a now a Girls Only program in Kigoma. This fantastic program is a global leader in Football for Female Empowerment. Female teachers have come forward for training and are able to deliver a positive message. Male teachers are volunteering to teach female players.

Another challenge in developing countries is how to change the traditions of the men who view women as their own property. In countries where ‘being a man’ is often judged on the number of children you father, how do we change these beliefs? How do we stop the belief that having sex with a virgin cures HIV? How do we stop young women being forced into prostitution and teenage marriage?

We are making a start and Kigoma proves that it is possible to give choice to girls and women in the poorest countries.

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