How Yuwa Empowers Girls in India Through Football-TBP
India currently has the highest number of child brides on the planet, with 47 percent of girls married before they turn 18. The practice is more common in rural areas. In some states, the number reaches 69 percent. The rate of marriages is increasing for girls between the ages of 15 and 18.

There are many factors that account for this high number of child brides. Oppressive gender roles in India’s patriarchal society make it difficult for girls to pursue other options. They are typically expected to be mothers and care for the entire household. Girls often receive little schooling and have lower rates of literacy. It can be difficult for them to find work and become financially independent, so they have no choice but to marry young and depend on their husband while being burdened with domestic responsibilities. Families may also push girls to get married young out of concern for their safety and “honor.”

Child brides face risks to their mental, physical, and emotional health. Since many become pregnant at a young age, they are more likely to die in childbirth. They also have a greater chance of contracting HIV. They suffer more domestic violence: Indian child brides are twice as likely to be abused than girls who marry after 18. They also face higher rates of sexual abuse, and often exhibit symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder such as hopelessness and depression.

The Yuwa organization, an NGO based in the state of Jharkhand, is dedicated to using football (soccer) as a means to promote social development and discourage child marriage. Citizens of Jharkhand struggle with poverty and illiteracy, and it is a dangerous place for young women to grow up. Yuwa was founded in 2009, and since the program began, it has had 600 members. Currently, 250 girls participate in the program, with 150 practicing on a daily basis.

Through Yuwa, girls can organize new football teams or join an already existing team. Players collectively choose a team captain, who is responsible for tracking attendance. If a girl suddenly drops out or shows up less and less, her teammates can contact her to help her through whatever is keeping her from practice.

Yuwa’s program goes beyond football. They also work to educate girls so they can strive for a future beyond child marriage. Girls can attend their academic bridge program, which provides classes in math, science, and English, and computers. They also provide summer school and personal tutoring, and assist with transferring girls to better schools. Furthermore, Yuwa holds hour-long weekly workshops that focus on teaching life skills. These workshops are run by local female staff or other Yuwa girls, and they cover topics such as health, gender, gender-based violence, sexuality, self-esteem, and basic finances.

Yuwa’s primary objective is to inspire girls to take their futures into their own hands so they can fight child marriage, illiteracy, and human trafficking. Girls and their coaches can meet with their families to discuss options beyond marriage. Although some parents are not understanding at first, and want their daughters to follow the conventional path, many change their minds and begin to push for better futures for their daughters.

The Yuwa girls have seen success on and off the field. In 2013, a Yuwa team placed 4th in an under-14 tournament in Spain, and in 2014, they were invited to Schwan’s USA cup. Although football is not enough to undo all of the inequalities that Indian women struggle with on a daily basis, Yuwa’s girls are helping change attitudes and inspire girls to strive for new opportunities.

– Jane Harkness

Sources: Foundation for Sustainable Development, Girls Not Brides, The Guardian, International Center for Research on Women, Yuwa
Photo: Yuwa

Sports are being used all over the world to promote gender equality, public health and the empowerment of social outcasts.

In patriarchal societies sports and games are being used to empower young girls and encourage fair play regardless of gender, leveling the playing field, as it were.

But gender is just one of many social barriers that sports are used to break. Football (soccer) in particular is popular for reinitiating orphans, former child soldiers or sex slaves, refugees, children with disabilities and children of varying races into communities.

In 2003 a UN task-force announced the birth of Sport for Development and Peace (S4D) Towards Achieving the Millennium Development Goals, officially making sports a tool for fighting world hunger, poverty, disease and discrimination.

S4D disperses its funding among organizations that promote physical activity as a right among children and use its exertion to demonstrate equality.

UNICEF holds sport festivals where it educates children and families about hygiene, the importance of vaccinations and HIV/AIDS prevention.

Grassroot Soccer (GRS), based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, launched an HIV/AIDS Education Program that encourages children to talk openly about HIV/AIDS and builds a community of peers who will bring what they learn back to their families.

In addition to encouraging peaceful resolution and fair play, sports can have a way of giving control back to children who’ve had their rights or bodies stolen from them.

Within the parameters of a controlled environment young girls and boys are free to rule and judge for themselves, experience consequences, team-building and the payoffs of hard work.

Regardless of culture, countries all over the world are accepting physical activity as a way to nurture empowerment and collaboration. Victims of human trafficking practice yoga in India to reclaim their bodies and establish inner-stability. Children play basketball in South Africa to overcome racial stereotypes. All-girl football teams in Brazil empower young women to overcome their social inhibitions. After a tough game, coaches in Zimbabwe talk to their teams about practicing safe sex.

The UN is making international sport a priority, and hopes that one day children everywhere will have the space and the right to play.

– Lydia Caswell

Sources: UNICEF, Sport and Dev, Sport and Dev
Photo: What’s On

Mel Young and Harald Schmied, from Scotland and Austria, respectively, created the Homeless World Cup in 2001 after visiting Cape Town, South Africa for a homelessness conference.

In 2003, Young and Schmied had organized their first Homeless World Cup tournament, which was played in Graz, Austria; to them football (or soccer) is not only a sport, but also a way to “change the lives of homeless people.”

They understand the effects of homelessness, which can make homeless people feel alone and unable to voice their thoughts, causing their lives to be constant chaos.

Football is a release from their usual lifestyle, creates a safe space to build trusting relationships and enables them to be a part of something fun.

By being able to trust others and build skills, the homeless will be able to succeed and learn that they can also apply these lessons to their everyday life and thus change the path they are on.

The ambition of the Cup is to use football as a catalyst to make positive changes in their lives. In order to do so, the organization brings together partners to help give support and teach the homeless soccer skills. During the Cup, homeless people from all around the world will be able to meet and talk to other homeless people from other countries.

This year, the Homeless World Cup will be taking place in Santiago, Chile. The news was made public during a rematch of the 2012 Homeless World Cup Finalists Mexico and Chile.

The Homeless World Cup is partnered up the Futbol Calle, an organization formed by Accion Total, a sports company who specialize in the creation of sports facilities and helping people alter the direction of their lives. Currently, there are 2,000 participants involved in Futbol Calle.

The other partners also contribute to helping the homeless make progress professionally. They provide the access to education, jobs, and if needed, legal advice.

There are also many ways every day people can get involved in helping the Homeless World Cup gain publicity and funds, their website contains a complete packet of fundraising ideas and templates for posters, flyers, and logos. You can find the packets and templates, as well as read several stories from past players on the website and like their Facebook page.

Becka Felcon

Sources: Homeless World Cup, Homeless World Cup, I Love Chile
Photo: Homeless World Cup

Historically, cricket in Tanzania has not been a sport played by the nation’s indigenous population. Those with backgrounds from countries with strong cricket programs, such as India and the United Kingdom, traditionally dominated the sport. That demographic has been changing, however, ever since 1999 when Zully Rehemtulla, chairman of the Tanzania Cricket Association, and former player Kazim Nasser became set on bringing cricket to all Tanzanians.

In the initial stages, Rehemtulla estimates that only about 150 people in Tanzania played cricket. He and Nasser decided that it was unacceptable for the sport to not permeate the majority of the country and started to focus their attention on bringing the sport to schools in Dar es Salaam, the capital.

Since then, and after about a century of non-indigenous participation in cricket, the sport has taken off, with Rehemtulla estimating that roughly 15,000 people now play in Tanzania. In August 2013, the International Cricket Council ranked the men’s Tanzanian team at 30th in the world.

Women in Tanzania have joined the game too. Though the Tanzanian women’s cricket team was eliminated from the last two World Cups early into qualification rounds, women’s participation has increased significantly.

Rehemtulla and Nasser state that they run into many barriers, due to Tanzania being one of the most impoverished nations in the world, when attempting to boost the participation of adolescent girls in cricket.

Moreover, they state that when girls become teenagers in Tanzania, their families put pressure on them to get jobs and contribute to family income. In order to offset this hurdle, the pair began offering services to girls who wanted to start playing cricket. They offered housing, HIV and malaria awareness classes, as well as, of course, cricket coaching to make them better players and in the future, effective coaches themselves.

The results of this program were very successful, with women not only continuing to play cricket, but also with many attending universities and maintaining lucrative jobs. Nasser and Rehemtulla report that many of the girls in the program are now financially comfortable and can make up to five times as much as low-wage workers in Tanzania.

Nasser explains that he and Rehemtulla have gotten to know the girls in the program and can serve as mentors and aid in their future development.

“We have spent five years with them so we try to do what is best for them. We train them so they get employment instead of going to work as house maids.” Furthermore, he states, “We as an association tried to give them classes and pay the school fees. We tried our best to help them to ensure they have better lives in the future.”

Cricket is also growing in other African nations. There has, for instance, been increased financial investment in cricket programs, including plans to build a new cricket stadium in Rwanda, largely to support the development of its new women’s team. Cricket has already become the second most popular sport in South Africa, whose men’s team, the Proteas, is globally competitive and whose amateur women’s team is gaining recognition.

Though the Tanzanian women’s team has not made it to the cricket World Cup, Tanzania has participated in a World Cup event. In 1975, Tanzanian athletes competed as a part of an East Africa team that included Uganda, Zambia and Kenya.

Tanzania is still far from achieving its goal of having premier, globally-recognized cricket teams, but with programs supporting female athletes and an increased investment in cricket and cricketers, one day Tanzania could prove its athletic prowess.

Kaylie Cordingley

Sources: BBC Sport, AllAfrica
Photo: BBC News

Sports, being communal activities, are one of the most effective avenues for uniting people in charitable causes. Here are three organizations devoted to using sports as weapons against poverty.

1. Pedal Against Poverty: Australia-based Pedal Against Poverty organizes cycling events to raise money for poverty-stricken communities around the world. The organization hosts two main events each year – a 24-hour relay in Sydney, Australia, and an eight-hour mountain bike event in Port Macquarie.  Proceeds from these events primarily benefit children in Phnom Pehn, Cambodia, home to the 100 acre Stung Meanchey landfill. The landfill has been closed down but still plagues the impoverished surrounding communities with poor sanitation and health problems. Pedals For Poverty provides children in Phnom Pehn with education, food, and clothing. It also provides maternal and newborn healthcare, as well as care for victims of domestic violence. Pedal Against Poverty is also involved in poverty relief projects in Tanzania and India.

2. Waves For Water: Waves For Water focuses on bringing clean water to developing countries. The organization, which has partnered with the surf company Hurley International, started by providing travelling surfers with water filters to install in impoverished communities as they traveled abroad in search of waves. Now, Waves For Water hopes to engage volunteers outside of the surfing community. It has developed a do-it-yourself Clean Water Courier program that encourages anybody, surfer or not, to purchase portable water filters before travelling abroad. The water filters are compact, easily fit in luggage, and are easily installed. So far, the Clean Water Courier program has provided communities in Haiti, Indonesia, Bali, Pakistan, Samoa, and Chile with clean drinking water.

3. Uncle Skate Charity: Based in Scottsdale, ArizonaUncle Skate donates skateboards and equipment to children in impoverished communities around the world. The organization aims to use skateboarding as a means to provide poor children with a sense of self-worth and confidence that will go beyond skating. Uncle Skate also aims to use skating as a deterrent to drug and alcohol abuse. Among the countries Uncle Skate has donated equipment to are Jordan, Haiti, Cuba, and Thailand.

The reason that these initiatives are successful is because they are community-oriented. Sports have always brought large groups of people together. These organizations capitalize on the communal qualities of sports and channel them into solidarity for a cause much bigger than sports – abolishing poverty.

– Matt Berg

Sources: Pedal Against Poverty, Waves for Water, Uncle Skate
Photo: CAFOD Westminster

More than a Ball: Alive and Kicking
Sports play an essential role in the development of children. They provide structure and help teach hard work and discipline. For underprivileged kids, it may be one of the only healthy releases from the difficult lives they have. For kids in Africa, the sport that supplies this release is football, known as soccer to Americans. Yet many African children live in environments where sports equipment – such as soccer balls – is not affordable or accessible.

Thanks to Alive and Kicking, these kids have not had to worry about how they can play soccer. The only legitimate manufacturer of sports balls in Africa, Alive and Kicking has provided over 500,000 balls to impoverished children. Their impact goes far beyond simply producing sporting equipment. Below are the positive impacts Alive and Kicking has on the people of Africa.

  1. Employment: Alive and Kicking has been helpful in improving the economies of local African communities through the hiring of citizens to help manufacture balls. They have had 120 people hired to produce the balls on their manufacturing line. Each of these people has at least six family members and the wages they earn can help provide enough for their families. The employment has helped stimulate local communities with revenue as well.
  2. Healthy Lifestyle: Some children in Africa are subject to things that no developing youth should have to endure. Their ability to play soccer with their friends and be active in a normal way is extremely beneficial. Even if it helps them escape their unsuitable environment for even a few minutes, it is a success.
  3. Replacement of Makeshift Balls: Children in poor living conditions are often forced to stitch together materials and make their own ball, and these balls do not last long. Alive and Kicking provides synthetic stitched balls that will remain in good condition in any environment.

Alive and Kicking continues to make a profound impact in Ghana, Kenya, and Zambia. But they need help. Donations are instrumental in funding the production of sports balls. A generous donation of 100 dollars would provide eight soccer balls for school systems and communities, impacting the lives of many children. A much more modest donation of 15 dollars provides a child with a ball. These gifts may be small but will play an important role in a child’s life. For more information, visit Alive and Kicking’s website.

– William Norris

Sources: Alive and Kicking, CNN
Sources: Globo

Tickets For Charity
Tickets-For-Charity has a simple business model: they sell tickets to fans and a portion of the proceeds go to charity. Jay Whitehead, CEO of the for-profit company, explains that the company sells tickets for sports games and concerts, and they sell two types of tickets. One type is when a sports team, for example, tells the company how much money per ticket they want back, Tickets-For-Charity keeps a $17 service charge, and the remaining money goes to charity. Another type is when a corporation gets 100% of the ticket value as a tax deduction, Tickets-For-Charity takes the ticket and deducts the $17 charge, and then the rest goes to a nonprofit organization.

Whitehead also explains that the charities that benefit from Tickets-For-Charity’s work depends on who is donating the tickets. Many sports teams have their own foundation, and 75% of the funds raised from the ticket sales go to these types of foundations and charities. The remaining 25% of money from the tickets goes to charities chosen by the buyers, as long as the charity is one that is part of Tickets-For-Charity’s platform.

Ticket buyers also receive a special receipt when they choose to buy a ticket through Tickets-For-Charity that shows the amount donated and the name of the charity. This gives the buyer the ability to write off the donation on their tax returns. The tickets are also normally for good seats instead of the bottom of the barrel, nosebleed section seats. Sometimes tickets are donated by companies when their employees can’t make it to a sports game, so those lucky ticket buyers could get front row or suite seats.

Tickets-For-Charity is also excited about their recent deal with Major League Baseball. Whitehead states that other sports typically follow baseball’s lead, so by earning MLB as a customer for their business, they are hoping for increased business with other big names in sports.

Katie Brockman
Source: Boston Globe
Photo: Tickets-For-Charity