The group of female coach candidates for RUSA camp Bredjing—the first women to ever play soccer in their community. Photo: Sara-Christine Dallain/iACT

The First Women To Ever Play Soccer

by Jun 6, 2017

What does if feel like to be the first women to ever play soccer in your community?

It’s the question I’ve been eager to ask our group of female coach candidates for the Refugees United Soccer Academy. The training was their first time ever with a ball at their feet—passing, receiving, dribbling, scrimmaging.

When they heard the translation of my question, the women smiled and gave me a thumbs-up, and a couple responded, modestly, that they “feel so happy” and it “feels good to be active.” Fatnah, one of the women we selected to serve as a RUSA coach, said, “We know girls all over the world play soccer and play different sports, but until now, nobody in our society has ever said we could play soccer. In our society, they don’t agree for girls to play soccer…we don’t know why.”

In light of Fatnah’s answer, I asked what they will do if people in their “society” continue to “disagree” with girls playing? Fatnah responded that they will go out and talk to leaders and parents in the community about the importance of physical activities for children—boys and girls—and that sport is important for education, for their future, and for their bodies and health.

It takes a lot of courage to be the first. To come out and learn a new sport with a crowd of your peers watching and without proper gear—all the women played in their daily attire: dresses, headscarves, and sandals or barefoot, while the men wore soccer shorts, shirts and cleats. These women were bold to come and train, and as a result, they are forging a new path. They are the change-makers. They are showing a generation of girls that they too can play soccer and aspire to be a coach someday. “We are excited to show girls in our community that girls can be active, to encourage them, give [them] confidence, and they will want to be a soccer coach, too.”

When you support the Refugees United Soccer Academy, YOU are supporting women pioneers. You are giving women a platform to be the first and to actually bring new opportunities for women and girls in their community. How impactful is that!?

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