It has been said that, “ If you educate a girl, you empower a nation” ( Queen Rania of Jordan). Beyond just a belief of theory, there is, without a shadow of a doubt, truth to this statement. Girls and women are an integral component to the growth and success of any society or culture. When we educate young women, we empower them to navigate the lives which they want to live rather than the life which may be mapped out for them.
This education comes in innumerable forms, yet each avenue of exploration can yield profound results. Here, at United Kidz Soccer Development, we have seen this come to life when we use soccer as a tool to teach young women some of the most vital life skills they will ever need.
Why Ask for choice is important to us.
Although some might see soccer as just a game, we see it as a vehicle to reach diverse learners from varied backgrounds and experiences about societal issues which impact their very own communities.
The game itself can help youth explore their own sense of self advocacy, their ability to work alongside others, the value of goal setting and rising to the occasion, and so much more.
Yet, beyond this, soccer can also be the foundation for both individual and community based growth. It is because of our solidified belief in this that we have partnered with an organization who shares a similar mindset. This organization is Coaches Across Continents (CAC).
Coaches Across Continents is a global leader in ‘Education Outside the Classroom’. Community-based organizations from 95 countries have requested partnerships with CAC, enabling them to utilize our year-round strategic resources to Design, Develop, and Implement sustainable social impact programs. Together with our partners worldwide we use innovative play-based curriculum that addresses relevant local social issues to build legacies for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Our key to success is a unique Self-Directed Learning model that educates people to identify, address, and solve problems specific to their communities.
We mentor organizations and empower communities to question harmful traditional, cultural, and religious practices, responsibly choose their own futures and create sustainable change, and, two which we are highly connected to, female empowerment and gender equity. We will be working with CAC in the near future to help develop their programming here in Massachusetts, and to expand their reach in lifting up young women across the globe. Nora Dooley, CAC Gender Equality Strategist (born in Boston, MA!) said of the partnership “As Coaches Across Continents enters its 10th year of existence in this shifting field of local and global community development, we are thrilled to deepen our presence in communities close to the homes of some of our staff.
Much of the world often looks to the United States for guidance, support and as an example of success – especially when it comes to opportunities for women and girls in sport and education. We know the US has as much to learn as anywhere else in the world, and we are delighted to share and learn alongside our new ASK for Choice partners in Massachusetts, creating new legacies of gender equality with United Kidz Soccer Development!” In addition to our recent partnership with CAC, we have also personally taken a slight shift in the mission of our UKSD Academy. Although our academy program focuses on individual player growth in both a technical and tactical sense, we have narrowed down the heart of our mission which is female empowerment through sport.
Our academy consists of young women ranging from 10 years of age to 18 years of age. These girls work collectively to explore subjects such as leadership skills, self advocacy, goal setting, self accountability, and having a community mindset. Their training sessions are a carefully crafted mixture of soccer specific training and life skills training. We believe that character is the most crucial aspect to any young person’s success. It is our goal to help our academy participants learn from specified lessons, the game itself, from working within their communities, and from one another.
Through mixing young women of different ages, socio-economic statuses, and backgrounds, they are each able to positively impact one another. However, we haven’t stopped there. We have also created a virtual classroom where current academy players are able to interact with alumni players, UKSD members in Dominica and Kenya, and other female players and coaches who share in the desire to education and inspire. We want these girls to foster a desire to surround themselves with people who have common goals, desires, and a belief that the education of women is one of most important things we can do. Creating a network of people who are all working towards similar goals breeds positivity, commitment, and a collective strength.
One of our main focuses in 2018 will be to continue to build these programs, encourage more young people to join if their goals align with ours, and to create more links in our network of change. To kick off our Academy re-focusing and our partnership with Coaches Across Continents, our girl’s academy participated in celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th. The girls were involved in various activities from the CAC curriculum which explored female empowerment and strength. These activities allowed our players to delve into subjects such as gender stereotypes, the value of education, girl’s and women’s rights, social understanding and awareness, and equal opportunity.
The girls also unanimously signed the Ask For Choice Policy after gaining an understanding of this fundamental mindset. They are beginning to learn of the choices which young women are afforded in their own communities and how this can vary greatly from many areas around the world. Our participants are eager to further explore these realms of discussion and to continue to expand their knowledge base and desire to positively impact both themselves and others.