Coach Perspective: Getting Girls in the Game at Lansdowne Middle School
Lansdowne Middle School is the newest school to be integrated into the Soccer Without Borders Maryland hub. The program was launched in the spring of 2021, but started with virtual programming due to the pandemic. This fall was the first season of in-person programming, with more than 35 participants - including 16 girls - playing in the first games for Lansdowne Middle School.
With a strong emphasis on gender equality, the Lansdowne coaching staff has concentrated on fostering strong bonds between the group of girls on the team within this co-ed program. One of the ways this has been done is through the creation of a girls group, which is a safe space for girls to talk about their experiences, strengthen friendships, and support each other. The girls group is a significant achievement in creating gender equity in the team.
The other way Lansdowne has encouraged girls to engage in the program is by leaving space to explore other interests beyond soccer and academics. A great example is Esra, a 7th grader who was a part of the inaugural virtual season as well as the first in-person season. Esra is a leader that all students look up to in the classroom and on the field, but it is through her art that Esra stands out even more. The starting of Lansdowne’s girls group inspired the piece of art Esra created that is shown below.
"I like all SWB, I love soccer too much,” Esra said, “I love the people who I play with. The SWB girls are different than the other girls at the school, I love them. The coaches are so good, all of the coaches make the students happy and support them.”
Esra’s love of sports and art is rooted in her experience as an immigrant from Afghanistan, where her access to both were limited. “In Afghanistan, I could not draw. But here I can go on Youtube and draw anything that I want and that makes me happy. In my country, the girls don't play soccer. This picture shows that girls can do everything."
Esra continues to use her skills as a leader on and off the field this spring season.
Learn more about Soccer Without Borders partnership with Baltimore County Public Schools.