Our Girls’ Football Team provides a space for girls to play, to improve their fitness, and to develop a peer support network. Girls have fewer opportunities than boys because of concerns for their safety and a greater responsibility for household chores. Our football team shows that girls thrive when given the same opportunities as boys. Being part of a team allows them to develop skills that benefit their education and lives more generally.
Free time for girls from low income households in Ethiopia is precious. Within the family, they are often expected to do chores, rather than boys. This leaves them with less time to study and even less time for games. Girls are at greater risk of sexual violence, so are expected to stay close to home where they are considered to be safer.
We set up our girls’ football team in 2017 and it was the first of its kind in Gondar town. The football team has 20 members aged between 12 and 16 from low income households. They train twice a week with a professional coach. After each training session they have access to showers and share a meal together.
By providing a safe space with supervision, parents feel confident allowing the girls to be on the football team. Once there, the girls enjoy improved fitness, participation in a peer support group, and a space to build confidence and leadership skills.
The team play friendly matches whenever we can arrange it and have worked with Gondar city’s professional women’s team. With the right support, we hope to soon send them to the regional girls’ football tournament.
“Because they are from poor backgrounds sometimes they lack confidence at school. This gives them something to feel confident about” – Coach Aster
“Before the Girls’ Football team we were alone and living separate lives – but now we are one team. We share everything: our experiences, feelings and advice. We support each other. Before, we thought we could not correct and better each other, because the person would be mad. Now, we know that we are stronger together, and can grow together.”
We thank Wild Frontiers for funding the girls’ football team project.
Girls reported that they were 41% more likely to speak up in class after a year on the football team.
Can you help?
- £14 could by a new football kit for a girl on the team
- £65 could employ a football coach for the team for a month
- £200 could hire a bus to drive the team to the nearest City for a friendly match against another girls’ team