Kampala, Uganda— Today for International Women’s Day, Soccer Without Borders announces the launch of the Global Goal 5 Accelerator. Through the support of Common Goal and in partnership with Women Win, the Accelerator aims to advance gender equality on the pitch, on the sidelines, in organizations, and in the media.
Since its founding in 2006, Soccer Without Borders has prioritized creating pathways for girls of all cultural backgrounds to reach their potential on and off the field. Having reached more than 10,000 girls and trained hundreds of coaches across four continents since then, Soccer Without Borders now has more than 1,100 girls actively participating in core programs, and reaches thousands more each year through camps, clinics, tournaments, and leagues.
But the need is far greater. Living as an adolescent girl in much of the world means facing the realities of early marriage, unplanned pregnancy, denial of education (especially secondary school), social isolation, and gender-based violence. Girls who play sports not only gain physical and socio-emotional benefits, but also show improved academic achievement and educational advancement (Women’s Sports Foundation). Sport is an accelerator for leadership development and a powerful opportunity for girls to build their self-efficacy, strengthen their voices, and broaden their community.
“From the highest levels at the World Cup in France, to community fields around the world, the movement to shape a more gender-inclusive world through soccer is growing,” said Mary Connor, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Soccer Without Borders. “We are excited to team up with Common Goal, Women Win, and our partners across the global streetfootballworld network to accelerate the impact of this movement and bring it to the ground in the form of opportunities on the pitch, in coaching, and within organizations.”
The Accelerator’s name refers to Sustainable Development Goal #5: Gender Equality. Soccer has a powerful influence on norms and attitudes at an individual, community, and global level. Participation in soccer gives girls an opportunity to understand their bodies as athletes, build their confidence and voice as leaders, and access a community of supportive peers and role models. If designed with intention, the combination of these individual and collective impacts makes sport-for-development programs uniquely positioned to contribute to Global Goal 5.
It takes a team to move the needle. Common Goal players from around the world sent in their messages of support, remembering role models in their careers:
“Gender Equality is at the core of progress at all levels when it comes to tackling the world’s greatest challenges. That is why this has always been at the heart of what we do and we are now taking the next step with this collective approach. We are excited to witness what the collaborative effort of both Common Goal members and experts from the field will bring in the next 12 months and beyond,” said Common Goal Co-Founder Jürgen Griesbeck.
The first-ever Global Goal 5 Accelerator will kick off at Soccer Without Borders in Kampala, Uganda on Tuesday, March 10th. Eight different organizations from Tanzania, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and Uganda will convene to discuss and imagine ways to advance global goal 5 in their context, and design action plans to accelerate progress through the year.
“Getting girls on the football pitch takes a lot more than just having balls, cones, and nets. In my experience, you really have to address the whole context. You have talk to parents and encourage the girls over and over to come do this thing that they are told is not for them,” explains Catherine Kabanyana, SWB Uganda Girls’ Program Coordinator. “We need to have more female role models for the girls to see, to inspire them. If we start with this generation, they can shape a new future with greater gender equality.”
You can follow the Kampala Global Goal 5 Accelerator’s progress on our Instagram @soccerwoborders.
About Soccer Without Borders
Founded in 2006, Soccer Without Borders envisions a more inclusive world, where all youth have the opportunity to reach their full potential. With programming in the United States and around the world, Soccer Without Borders combines soccer play and instruction with education and community-building activities in a year-round program model that authentically shifts outcomes. Soccer Without Borders’ impact has been recognized by the global FIFA Diversity Award, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Sports Award, and the Wharton School of Business’ Lipman Family Prize.
About Common Goal
The Common Goal movement was created in 2017 by streetfootballworld, the world’s leading organisation in the field of football for good. Common Goal encourages professional football players, managers, officials and clubs to donate a minimum of 1% of their earnings to support high-impact initiatives that use football to drive progress towards the Global Goals. The movement’s long-term vision is to unlock 1% of the entire football industry’s revenues — estimated at €50 billion per year.
Since its inception in August 2017, 145 professional football players and managers from over 35 countries - including Juan Mata, Jürgen Klopp and Megan Rapinoe, and influential football officials - such as UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin, and a first professional club from the elite league in Denmark, FC Nordsjælland, have joined the Common Goal movement.
About Women Win
Founded in 2007, Women Win supports organisations that use sport as a tool to empower girls and young women to know their rights, specifically regarding gender-based violence, sexual health, and economic empowerment.
With extensive expertise in women’s rights, Women Win has developed collaborative, open source learning tools including an interactive guide for building sports programmes for girls and improving the female inclusion in existing programmes. Using workshops and trainings to connect organisations across various sectors and continents, Women Win facilitates resource sharing, aligning the fight for women’s rights with sport for development.