Two weeks ago we finally started the Yuwa Girls Football Program in Dharavi. Every morning at 6am three coaches receive around 12 to 20 enthusiastic girls in the age of six to 14 in the Reality Gives Community Center in Dharavi. In the following two hours the girls run, sing, play and kick the ball until they are breathless.
Reality Gives started this unique football program in cooperation with Yuwa, an organisation infamous for child marriage, human trafficking and lack of opportunities for girls. Yuwa started its first football club in February 2009, providing an escape from the day-to-day grind of their lives. Through football, Yuwa has A lot of girls play barefoot since they just have slippers. All players have to attend 4 month to be eligible for shoes.
Now Reality Gives brings the success of the grass root project of Yuwa to Dharavi with the target to empower young girls to take charge of their own future – and of the project itself! Because the girls are responsible for planning the trainings schedules and for saving for equipment they bring a energy to the program that you don’t see in most sports programs. They also have to save about a third of the price of balls and shoes through team-run savings cooperatives, which builds dedication to the program. Every Player gets eligible for shoes after four months of attendance of 20-plus days/month.
The Three Coaches
Anand (23), Meena (15) and Sunita (16) came from the Yuwa program in Jharkhand to run the project in the first months. Anandhas been with Yuwa from the beginning in 2009 and has grown form a youth leader to one of two leading coaches of the program. Meena and Sunita have been trained at BaichungBhutia Football Schools in Delhi and at the Tata Football Academy (TFA), India’s premier academy.They are from Yuwa’s second team. Meena is very dedicated and has coached more days than any other coach the past 12 months. Her father was shot and killed a couple of years ago, and she uses her grant to support her mother and siblings.
Reality Gives and Yuwa hopes to achieve more than just a good football team. The program will target girls who dropped out of school, are neglected at home due to gender inequality and may be at risk for early marriage. To find out more about the girls, their families and living conditions the coaches and the teachers of Reality Gives conduct regular house visits. Reality Gives also aims to involve the girls in the other educational projects they run to show them more opportunities in life and to motivate them to take their own decisions for their future. These programs include computer classes and art classes.
“I come every morning to the community center. Then the coaches bring me to the ground. I like the training a lot. I want to be a football coach as well when I’m older”, says 8-years-old Neha, one of the most talented girls without any fear of the ball. When the others take a break, she still runs around kicking the ball.
Many girls attend every day, some are less consistent, some just joined. In a few months we will organize our first tournaments which we will also do in public. More about the program, tournaments and the girls soon…