Soccer Without Borders Uganda continues to cement its place as a leader in advancing gender equality and youth development. The program is a 2020 recipient of the Beyond Sport Collective Impact Award for Gender Equality and Girls’ program coordinator Catherine “Mina” Kabanyana has been selected to the streetfoodballworld East Africa Regional Coordination Team.
Soccer Without Borders Uganda has been named one of four recipients of the Beyond Sport 2020 Sport for Gender Equality Collective Impact Award, presented by Comic Relief. The organizations - all based in eastern and southern Africa - have been chosen to work together during the year to advance United Nations Global Goal 5: Gender Equality. In addition to grant funding, Beyond Sport will provide SWB Uganda with “business support tools and strategic guidance to support their collective efforts to accelerate sustainable social change through sport.” Throughout the year, SWB Uganda will work in collaboration with Moving the Goalposts- Kilifi, Sport-Aid Development Trust and Pamoja Initiative, to advance gender equality across the region.
Soccer Without Borders Uganda has trained over 60 female coaches throughout Uganda through its Women Take The Lead series, and offers daily football, literacy, and life-skills classes to over 400 refugee children each week, over 40% of whom are girls. By comparison, according to FIFA, just 3% of football players on the African continent are girls. Already, SWB has sought to change this reality through its East Africa Global Goal 5 Accelerator.
“Football is a good tool for young women because football teaches a lot of things,” Kabanyana said. “It's not all about passing around the ball. Football teaches decision-making, it teaches teamwork, it builds the confidence of these young women, and they can carry that confidence into other aspects of life. They can carry the lessons they learned in football into other aspects of their life, which empowers them. It's very important to have role models, to have coaches these girls can look up to. It doesn't only take cones, bibs, and a ball to get girls on the pitch. They need to be able to see someone that they look up to.”
This award is emblematic of a collective movement that SWB has been championing for years. Since 2012, Soccer Without Borders has been an active member of streetfootballworld, a global network of member organizations changing the world through football and advancing the #Football4Good movement. What began as a collection of individual organizations with a passion for using the world's game for a greater good has become a vibrant sector known as Football for Development or Football for Good.
"Under Mina's leadership, SWB Uganda has built a girls program from a single team to now serving over 200 refugee girls weekly, on the pitch and off,” said SWB Executive Director and Co-Founder Mary McVeigh Connor, who currently serves on the streetfootballworld Network Board. “Mina has one of the deepest wells of energy and empathy that I have ever seen, and she channels it into action in a way that transforms a girl's day, week, year, and life. We are so proud to have Mina represent SWB Uganda on the East Africa streetfootballworld coordination team, and put her energy to work on behalf of a broader vision for the whole region."
With Mina on the East Africa Regional Coordination Team, and the presentation of the Collective Impact Award, SWB Uganda can continue to further its efforts to advance gender equity throughout the region and world.
Watch Mina's Beyond Sport House interview about the challenges facing girls in Uganda, and the efforts underway across the region to advance gender equality through soccer.