Why Girls Play Soccer May 30, 2014 by Nick Johnson
For girls in Kibera, choosing to play soccer is not an easy decision. Whereas it is normal for boys to be athletic and active, girls find it difficult to convince their families that sports are just as important for them. Overcoming the stigma that girls can’t or shouldn’t play sports takes a lot of willpower and courage. With the odds stacked so high against playing soccer, why do they do it?
Because soccer is more than a pastime. In soccer, girls can find refuge and family. It helps to build confidence and a sense of accomplishment. Most of all, it provides a way to take a break from the hardships of daily life. If you ask any one of the girls in Carolina for Kibera’s Sports Association why they play soccer, it becomes clear very quickly that life without it would be even more difficult.
At Carolina for Kibera, we believe that sports are tremendously important for girls across the globe, and we wanted to capture that importance in pictures. This photo project came about as part of CFK’s annual Kick for Kibera Soccer Clinic, held in Chapel Hill on UNC’s campus. Every year in the spring, girls of all ages sign up for the clinic, which is run in coordination with the 22-time NCAA Championship Winning UNC Women’s Soccer Team. The clinic gives girls the chance to work one-on-one with nationally-recognized soccer stars. It also connects them with CFK’s Sports Association, in that all of the proceeds benefit the annual CFK Girls’ Soccer Tournament. This year, we asked participants in the clinic along with the UNC Women’s Soccer Team why they play, in order to make the connection between CFK’s U.S. community and the Kibera community even stronger.
These athletes’ answers illuminate why being able to play soccer in Kibera — and all over the world — is important for so many girls. It’s not just a game. Soccer is a passion, a community, and access to a more fulfilled life. And when girls have access to the things and activities they care about, they pioneer positive change in their community.
We’d like to extend a big thank you to the UNC Women’s Soccer Team, the girls who participated in this year’s Kick for Kibera clinic and their families, and the women in CFK’s Sports Association who helped make this possible. Head over to our Facebook page to see more photos from this photo project!