Girls & Football SA

The award winning Girls & Football SA encourages girls in South Africa to play football as a source of empowerment, while promoting body ownership, increasing self esteem and using an educational campaign and media to raise awareness on the importance of sport for women. HIV/Aids, teen pregnancy and violence against girls and women are highly prevalent in South Africa. At Girls & Football SA, we believe football is a source of empowerment for girls, equipping them with a strong sense of body ownership and promoting self esteem. Frequently, leadership qualities highlighted by access to sport are allocated solely to the development of boys. This significantly impedes the development o...
Dec 21, 2012

GIrls & Football SA Report Identity Dec '12

Thank you so much for your all your contributions! Through your donations, we have been able to carry out a series of workshops on Identity: Girls vs Boys. We are so grateful for your support and wanted to share with you how we worked with girls in South Africa on re-shaping traditional gender norms and ways in which to challenge these roles. 

In South Africa, patriarchy still reigns and men are seen as dominant figures, whether in a household, a community or in an institutional setting. Girls and women face stereotypes; often encouraged by those identifying them as caretakers or as domestic figures. By motivating girls to trust in their capacities outside of these pre established gender roles, they are able to explore other, perhaps more productive, options in their community and in their future.

As a result, Girls & Football SA carried out a series of workshops that encourage participants to understand that physical differences in female versus male bodies doesn’t mean boys are more important, more intelligent or ‘better’ at sport. The participants learn that girls and boys should be treated equally, and that being strong and enjoying games or work traditionally allocated to boys, doesn’t make them any “less of a girl”. To ensure a gender balance, the workshop also highlights that boys should be able to perform in traditionally female roles.

We carried out a series of workshops at an all-girls’ tournament in Pretoria, South Africa. The tournament was held at Prestige College in Hammanskraal Gauteng. There were 3 local club teams if approximately of 15 players per team, in addition to a visiting team from Sweden. The age group ranged from 11-19. For the first time, we introduced role play activities that encouraged the girls to explore gender roles on a more in-depth level. 

Through these role plays, we worked to encourage girls to understand that the different stereotypes created by society can always be broken, and consequently by breaking them, the workshop ensures girls have the courage to further their dreams of becoming a professional soccer player, an engineer or a doctor; roles traditionally filled by men. Opening the discussion around gender identity allows girls to understand there are no set rules and that they can explore their own boundaries. 

Without your support, we would not have been able to carry out this work. We are immensely grateful for all your donations! Thank you for your support, and we wish you a fantastic year-end.

Kind regards, 

The Girls & Football SA Team 


Dec 4, 2012

Girls & Football SA Report Sexual Health Dec '12

Girls and Football SA hit the fields at Lynedoch Primary School, near Cape Town in the Western Cape. Because of your donations, we were able to work on our Girls & Football SA Sexual Health programming.

Throughout the workshops, our focus was in part conducting research for new material to include in our programming. As such, we placed an emphasis on setting time aside to listen to the individual voices of the girls we’ve been working with.

All this focus on expressing yourself can lead to a lot of commotion! Throughout the various activities we did with the participants, we noticed that certain exercises led to major excitement. During one activity, the girls were encouraged to loudly share concepts and ideas that came to their mind regarding a particular topic, such as football. In an alternate version of the same activity, the participants were encouraged to share their opinion in a respectful way, to listen to others, and to strive to reach mutual benefits. It quickly became apparent which method made it easier to communicate. Our focus was placed on stimulating the participants to share their opinions and thoughts in a productive way.

We also focused on the importance of being a good listener. By showing the girls that the sooner they focused on learning an activity, or the more actively they participated during discussion on sensitive topics, the sooner they’d be able to play a game. By showing them the importance of being a good listener, we instilled a level of trust, which allowed us to include sensitive information on issues such as Sexual Health and Self Esteem. 

We approached the importance of dealing with an issue up front, rather than letting it reflect in a destructive way in the work or play space. Finally, we encouraged girls to show and share. This includes contributing to the group in a positive way by sharing skills, and encouraging teamwork. Girls who showed interest, respect and skills were given extra responsibilities; they were elected team captain during a game.

 Naturally our workshops aren’t always a smooth ride! In fact, one of the main issues that has started to surface is the way that the girls were treating each other. Bullying is often a very common problem in teenage years, and we wanted to show our participants that hurtful behavior has a consequence. As a result, we introduced a new activity which included yellow and red cards (just like in real football games!). The girls were impressed that they were being treated as professional players, and their attitudes soon took a professional spin. To add a Girls & Football SA touch, we included a pink card for good behavior!

 At Girls & Football SA, we place an emphasis on creating a safe space for discussion on difficult and private topics. Therefore, in order to provide our players with privacy to share their thoughts, we engaged in conversations with them outside of the official workshop agenda. 

 Overall, we’re grateful to have witnessed some very important changes in the way our participants interacted. Towards the end of the 6 week workshops, the girls showed that they felt both closer as a group, and more trusted with the workshop leaders. A large number of girls demonstrated that they were capable of taking responsibility, they actively listened during explanations, and it seemed as though they felt freer to express joy whilst playing games. Through a survey conducted with the participants at the beginning of the six weeks, we’ve been also been able to garner further insight into how to improve our programming on Sexual Health.