Soccer Without Borders Uganda is launching a community girls’ league to bring together teams from around Kampala in a safe space for friendly competition and skill building. Seeing that there was a lack of opportunities for girls under 17, the league was envisioned by former University player and SWB Uganda coach Fahaby Kitimbo as a part of her coach action plan in the Global Goal 5 Accelerator.
“On our side of town, getting friendly matches for girls is so difficult,” said Kitimbo. “Few people organize girls tournaments, so creating a league was a way to give girls a platform where they can play, especially grassroot teams at the moment.”
In preparation for the competition to come, SWB Uganda piloted the league during December, with girls ages 14-17. It was a success, with seven teams from four different neighborhoods of Kampala and Entebbe, engaging around 100 girls. In 2021, the league will include 10-12 teams, broadening the scope of involvement for a larger number of girls in the area to grow their soccer skills.
SWB Uganda continues to expand and provide spaces for girls to explore their identities, while growing as leaders and athletes. Last season, 75% of SWB Uganda’s girls participated in 10 or more training sessions. This new league is another way in which girls can deepen their involvement in soccer with support from other women, while gaining self-confidence. It’s hopeful that this will pave the way for more competitive leagues of its kind.
“A future goal of this league is to expand it into primary school-aged girls. Primary schools generally only offer soccer to boys,” said Soccer Without Borders Director Steve Davis. “Through school outreach and engagement, we hope to advocate for the girls in these schools and help support the creation of soccer teams for them.”
In just the second week of the pilot season, despite SWB teams losing their games on a rainy and muddy day in Kampala, the players celebrated the joy they had playing soccer, splashing and sliding in the mud. Other teams wondered if SWB won the League title and the players said, “No. We are just having fun!" On the cusp of the league’s formal launch, this is emblematic of what it can create — a space where girls can compete, grow, and have fun, win or lose.