Play Like a Girl: How a Soccer School in Kenya’s Slums Started a Revolution
Girls in Kabera, Nairobi’s largest slum, suffer many gender-related hardships, not least of which is being banned from playing soccer, Kenya’s best-loved sport. Abdul Kassim, a Muslim raised in Kabera, took up the challenge and fielded an enthusiastic team. He recognized a greater need for girls’ secondary education and in 2006 launched the one-room Kabera Girls Soccer Academy for thirteen students, with religious differences no barrier. Tuition and lunch were always free, and teachers were low-paid and had more zeal and ability than credentials.
The humble first funding came from Abdul’s family and friends, and initially the girls were even asked to bring a chair to sit on if available. Now, the academy has well over a hundred attendees and receives contributions and students from the States and Britain. And soccer continues to fortify the girls and to prove that early marriage, pregnancy, and extreme poverty need not be an all-encompassing handicap.
Abdul’s story is forcefully told by Ellie Roscher, who quotes one of the girls saying, “I kick serious ass. If I can do this, I can do anything.”