Football Helps Young Women to Become Empowered

In Namibia, football plays a vital role in empowering girls and helping young women to achieve their goals.

Although football is by far the most popular sport in the African country, there are few opportunities for girls to take part in organised sports.

Unicef, along with the Namibian Football Association and other partners, set up Galz and Goals five years ago to give girls that chance.

The programme centres on football competitions and festivals, supported by a curriculum for teachers, coaches, parents and players to encourage them to follow healthy lifestyles.

Leena Mugena plays in the under-13 league and said: “It’s been fascinating we are able to do what the boys do and I get to meet new people.

“I have learned patience and teamwork as my coach is very motivating and encouraging.

“My parents have been very supportive throughout the league and now I am already looking forward to next year.”

Namibia has the seventh highest HIVAids rate in the world.

Of those, 13 per cent are between 15 and 19-years-old.

Girls are disproportionately affected so the classes provided by Unicef also provide information on HIVAids as well as drug and alcohol abuse, and gender discrimination.

There are now under-13 and under-15 girls football leagues across the country, run by volunteer coaches recruited from the local community.

This means girls like Leena are given space to grow as individuals in a safe and nurturing environment, not to mention a chance to enjoy themselves.

For many young girls, as they make their way from childhood to adolescence, playing football provides crucial support through this important phase of their development, so they can grow into confident, self-respecting and responsible women. –

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Source : The Namibian