Friday, April 11, 2014

Transforming a Girls Life through Soccer

I am an enthusiastic, confident young woman who loves football so much! I recall the first time I kicked a football was when I was about 10 years in primary school, it was amazing how much joy a single ball could bring. I happen to come from a sporty family, my older brother used to play for the Men’s National Football team. I would often listen to matches he played in on the radio. I wanted to be like him, and one day play for national team and my dream came true……

 I would excel in sports so much in school. I played football and netball but football was what I loved the most. My school team would excel so much in football that we would make it to the nationals; my parents would try and stop me from playing football, they wanted me to focus more on my studies.

 The secondary school I was in did not excel so much in football; we only made it to the district level. So after secondary school, I began to play football seriously and joined a football club in Dagoretti known as Dagoretti United Sisters. While playing for Dagoretti United, Mohamed, Binti United Football Club coach spotted me and convinced me to join Binti, which is sponsored by YWLI. 

When I joined Binti, I realized Binti had a lot more to offer and that’s when I decided that was something I wanted to part of . When I was in Binti I would play as well as coach and mentor young girls. I believe that there is a great link between sports and leadership. Sports has a lot more to offer other than just gaining fitness and being on the field and having fun, you gain a lot of personal skills. When you play football you take on roles on the field for example when you are tasked with being captain, this requires you to be resilient, a team player and have good listening skills. These are skills and qualities that you need to apply in your daily life.

Through Binti I gained experience in coaching girls team, I gained managerial skills, I gained leadership skills through attending trainings and forums organized by YWLI that helped boost my skills as a leader. Am currently working with girls who are much older, which is very interesting, many people  have the perception  that it’s difficult to work with girls, but I have discovered a way to get them intrinsically motivated. I expose them to what opportunities are out there for young women.

As a football coach, I strongly believe that girls would benefit from playing sports in their adolescent years. I believe that soccer acts as form of support system for the girls. It offers them a space where they can interact  and gain life skills. For myself, I don’t know where I would have been without football. It has opened doors for me and allowed to excel to great heights.

I believe that a lot more needs to done support girls and women’s football in Kenya. The lack of support makes many girls withdraw from football. The governments support towards girls and women’s football is minimal.  Many parents also do not support there girls to play football as they feel that the girls should be at home assisting with household chores.
I encourage girls who are currently playing to continue, I have seen girls who have been able to pursue higher education through football scholarships.

We can all play a role to ensure that girls and women football grows, through supporting women and girls who play football.

By Caroline Ajowi

Young Women's Leadership Institute (YWLI) is one of the four partner institutes of the African Centers of Excellence (ACE) for Women's Leadership program run by the Institute of International Education (IIE) , Ethiopia Office.

For more on IIE , ACE or YWLI please follow the links below.