As a part of the Soroptimist International President’s Appeal for 2019-2021 ‘The Road to Equality’, Soroptimist International has launched its newest collaboration with Shreeja India: ‘BEYOND FOOTBALL’.
In India, even if village girls enrol in schools as children, around 63.5 percent of them leave school during adolescence. Almost 27 percent of girls are married before the age of 18 years and 70 percent of girls suffer abuse in different forms across the nation.
Scholars and policy makers agree that a lack of female agency remains a key hurdle in women’s education and subsequent empowerment in India. These conditions are especially true for indigenous girls who are deprived of access to education, nutrition, health and livelihood opportunities for decades. While literacy rates of Scheduled Tribe (ST) males in India is 69 percent, that of ST females remains significantly lower at 48 percent. All these findings clearly indicate that we are failing to generate and nurture demands and aspirations of indigenous girls. They live within social systems where parents, siblings, teachers and community members are not supportive of their education. Far from the exposure to opportunities of growth, these girls still do not understand the meaning of having an ambition in life. Due to their social status, they often fall prey to early marriages, abuse and trafficking. Hence, they need additional support to engage and enrich their various skills to succeed in life. They require mentors to guide their educational progress to help them recognise their potentials and continue pursuing a life promising self-respect and dignity.
Shreeja India’s Beyond Football programme empowers girls from less privileged rural populations through sports-based out-of-school education. In the process, the endeavour works to:
- Stop school dropouts
- Prevent child marriage, trafficking and abuse
- Promote sports as a tool for social development
- Increase girls’ self-awareness and foster leadership
- Impart life skills to make girls self-reliant
- Improve physical and mental health
The present proposal is concerned with replication of the Beyond Football Programme in Purba Burdwan district, West Bengal based on local demand. The Beyond Football programme intends to ensure survival, protection and empowerment of the girl child.
Beyond Football is a balanced approach in imparting intense football coaching as well as out-of-school learning to indigenous girls aged 10-18 years. The football practice enhances their physical abilities and develops confidence in life. The physical strength and confidence acquired on the football ground is reflected during out-of-school learning and enhances academic performance. Special theory classes and audio-visual sessions are to be organised at the academy for the girls as part of the Football coaching, which will help to improve their training as players and connect their play with overcoming daily struggles of life.
The bond created on the field whilst playing also equips the girls to fight social evils such as early marriage, abuse, trafficking and violence against women as one social faction.
Here are five instances how Shreeja’s Beyond Football programme helps to improve indigenous girls’ quality of life:
- Confidence Building: Many indigenous girls lack confidence in life and intense practice on the field makes distinct contributions to confidence-building as they mature.
- Controlling the Territory: During the Football strategy class, girls are taught to control individual territories to stop the opponent passing the ball, and winning on the field is often translated to overcoming daily struggles.
- Awareness of Surroundings: During the skills development class, girls are instructed to constantly look up and see the changing positions of their team mates. This awareness helps them to judge their own positions in adverse situations envisaged in real life.
- Cooperative living: Football is a team game. Shreeja India encourages the players to practice love, affection, acceptance, hugging and pats on the shoulder to adopt the practice of sharing and caring with friends in real life.
- Off-the-Ball Strategy: In a 90-minute Football match, any girl touches the ball for a few minutes only. The rest of the time she runs to find unguarded positions on the field. This ‘Off-The-Ball’ tactic helps them to look for opportune moments to achieve goals in life collectively.
- The programme will benefit more than 200 girls to become aware, confident and goal directed in life.
- There will be a significant reduction in the incidence of school dropouts, early marriages and other social evils prevalent in the community.
- The programme will assure equitable access to opportunities and education for the deprived section of indigenous girls.
- Digital learning will help the girls to enjoy enriched exposure to the outside world.
- There will be a noticeable improvement in overall health and fitness of the girls.
- The programme will identify and foster talented women Football players, who will then be provided with opportunity to develop into professional athletes.
Long term Impact:
Shreeja India’s Beyond Football programme will produce four categories of young girls in the long term:
- Category A – Girls who are more inclined towards the sport and play well, will be offered opportunities for special training in the country or abroad, to maximise potential to become professional players.
- Category B – Girls more inclined towards academic careers. Care will be taken so they are able to pursue higher education or professional courses and follow their interests.
- Category C – Girls who are not inclined either towards sports or academia, but have interest in pursuing vocational courses will be supported towards skills upgrading so that they can earn their own livelihood.
- Category D – Girls who show equal interest in more than one field, will be fostered to pursue multiple fields simultaneously.
Soroptimists can now support the Beyond Football programme by donating funds to the Soroptimist International President’s Appeal. Please click HERE to donate.
Read more on Soroptimist International website HERE.