Equal opportunity for the children starts on the football pitch. Access to a professional and well-maintained field gives the children a safe place to come together to play football. Giving girls and boys a place to play is breaking down barriers and showing the children and coaches that boys and girls have the same capabilities. It’s also shifting stereotypes. Male coaches are teaching the girls and female coaches are training the boys. For some of the boys, this if the first time they have seen a young woman in a leadership role.
“We trained 60 coaches to work with the kids in the camp; 30 of them are male and the other 30 are female,” affirms Qusai, the field facilitator for Right To Play Jordan. “It’s important that 50 percent of our coaches are female because we need to show the kids that we do what we teach and that we don’t discriminate.”
Reinforcing messages like this are key and accomplished through coach-led group discussions before and after each play session. Shared communication empowers the girls and boys to speak openly one on one and in group settings with their peers. It allows the children to “reflect” on the activities they’ve participated in, speak freely about what they have learned, listen to one another respectfully, and “connect” and “apply” their new learnings to their everyday lives at home, with their families and friends, and in their community. It also opens the door to well-earned bragging rights so that the girls and boys can talk about what they love best: who scored the most goals during the last game.
“At first, we had a problem with this, because the boys thought they had nothing in common to talk about with the girls, because they didn’t know how to shoot or set up a goal, that football was a boys’ game,” says Qusai. “But once the girls started playing and we, the coaches, convinced them that the girls were skillful, maybe even more skillful than the boys, they started to listen to what the girls had to say and began to respect them as equals.”
Knowing who’s the best goalkeeper, striker, forward and defender fuels the children with confidence on and off the field.
In a recent survey, 98 percent of the youth in the Al Baqa’a-based Generation Amazing program said that they now believe they have the ability to make their community a better place to live, that’s a 31 percent increase from when these girls and boys first joined the program last year.
“Football taught me how to receive the ball and to defend my team, how to be clever and to anticipate where the ball is going,” says Majd. “In real life, this gives me the courage to stand up for and defend what is right. Now, I am friends with eight girls in the club and I will grow up in this camp and make it better. One day, I will even be a flight engineer, because I would like to see the world from up above.”
Story by Adriana Ermter
Photography by Paul Bettings
The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) will deliver all infrastructure and host country planning and operations required for Qatar to host an amazing and historic FIFA World Cup™. Generation Amazing is the SC’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) program. It uses the opportunity created by Qatar’s hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ to empower and educate people in Qatar, the region and across the globe. Outside Qatar, the program has been operational in Jordan and Pakistan with Right to Play. In Nepal, it is managed by Right to Play and delivered by Mercy Corps.