We use soccer, the world's most popular team sport, as a vehicle for positive change in the lives of girls ages 5-20 in Granada, Nicaragua. A team can be the most powerful change agent in a young girl's development, proven to inspire healthy choices regarding drugs, sex, alcohol, academics, and nutrition. Through a combination of on and off-field activities, including school scholarships and tutoring, the program creates pathways to uncommon outcomes for the girls of Granada.
Girls in Granada, Nicaragua face tremendous challenges: 28% are pregnant by age 18, 52% do not complete primary school, many are expected to raise younger siblings. The chance to become engaged and educated members of society is slim; there are obstacles at every turn. While sport and sports teams have been proven to address these challenges, particularly with girls, 90% of girls in Nicaragua report barriers to participation, and just 13% report playing sports, formally or informally.
Our program gives girls in Granada the social, educational and economic support they need to overcome obstacles to success and achieve their personal goals The team atmosphere provides girls with a network of caring peers and mentors that inspires each girl to stay enrolled in school, avoid risky behaviors and make healthy choices. Girls earn participation points that are exchanged for school supplies & uniforms, shoes, and equipment, as well as primary, secondary, and university scholarship.
Empowering the next generation of Nicaraguan girls through soccer, the development of key skills, gaining academic credentials, and connecting them to tangible career opportunities can help break the cycle poverty and reset the precedent for what is expected of girls in Nicaragua, and what they expect of themselves. We have already changed norms in Granada, and our goal is to continue to replicate and share best practices from the program with communities across Nicaragua.