This June our Sponsorship Coordinator, Michou Gerits, who joined our UK team in May 2017, made her first visit to Ethiopia! We will be sharing her experiences of the trip soon but below she tells us what it’s like to join our Gondar Girls’ Football Team for a day of training.
“On Saturday afternoon at 3pm I walked into the compound of Hibret Elementary School, close to the Commercial Bank and AG Hotel. A barren football pitch with goals made out of wooden poles was what I found along with 18 girls in Arsenal jerseys (and two goalies in Chelsea jerseys) and a strict but motivated football coach.
Coach Aster is a PE teacher at a nearby primary school and strongly believes in the benefits football and team sports for these young girls.
The girls started their warming up under the watchful eye of Coach Aster, who explained the first time in 8 months she wasn’t warming up with the team. She wanted them to do it on their own and give the team responsibility over the warming up. She would occasionally shout directions at them while we stood in the shade of a tree and the team ran up and down in the sun.
After this they did dribbling exercises and practiced heading the ball, some fearless and successful – others more hesitant. Then Coach Aster, also known as “Mama Football”, divided the girls into two teams who played each other.
The training lasted for 2 hours and by the end the sky was overcast and it started to rain. We packed up the balls and a few of the girls dropped them at the house of one of the team members whose home moonlights as a storing facility. We all walked together to a local hotel where the girls shared a meal.
There are many cafés and restaurants in Gondar where locals eat and meet for a cup of coffee or a local beer. For most of these girls eating at a restaurant is rarity and a luxury they enjoy very much. They all got a bottle of Coke or Fanta, another luxury, and a big plate of pasta, there was a choice of macaroni or spaghetti with a little baguette. Chatting with the girls, they confirmed that they enjoyed being part of a team very much and hope to play official matches and attend tournaments in the future.
All the team members are sponsored children or siblings of sponsored children and therefore from vulnerable families. Coach Aster explained to me that she believes being part of this team helps the girls not only with their football skills, physical fitness and health but also with concentration and discipline in school. Coach Aster worries some of these girls suffer from inferiority complexes or feel embarrassed about their poor background and hopes the Kindu Team will give them the confidence to succeed academically too.
The girls train twice a week, Saturday at 3pm and Sunday at 10am. On Sunday mornings, after another 2 hour training session they take a shower and get another meal.
During my visit the Kindu Trust also delivered extra resources we had brought for the the Girls’ Football Team: re-usable period packs as part of our partnership with Days for Girls UK, so that the girls don’t have to miss out on school or training during their period, and sports bras – which we hadn’t included in the budget based on the boy’s football team!”
The Girls’ Football team is part funded by a grant from TUUT and the rest is covered by general donations. If you would like to support the project, click here to donate. Thank you!