INDEED THERE ARE GREAT OPPORTUNITIES ONLINE
It was a cold and windy night, I wanted to sleep but I wasn’t feeling sleepy, so I got hold of my mobile phone and said to check my mails for the night and just to see what is happening online before I sleep off. And just as I opened my mails, I saw an email saying I have been selected to participate in the expert forum workshop in Brazil. Wow!!!!! Alone on my bed I screamed!!! I was so excited!! I didn’t expect I would be selected. I couldn’t wait for the morning to share the news with my family. Before now I had come across an information online, on AWID news to be precise, it was a call for application for women rights activists who use sports as strategy or tools for women empowerment to participate in an expert forum in Brazil. When I read it I was reluctant to apply because I started to feel self-inferior, I said to myself that though my organization uses sports and games as a strategy but we may be too small to qualify. So, somehow I encouraged myself and I just applied and sent all the requirements that they asked for, and I forgot about it. And that night, I saw the mail saying I have been selected to come to Brazil and all expenses paid by Discover Football, the NGO inviting us for the workshop. I was sceptical; could this be real or another internet scam? Until they sent me the invitation letter and my flight ticket then I knew they were for real and I got serious too. They are a German NGO with a mission to inspire and encourage women and girls who love to play football achieve their goals and dreams of becoming women footballers. To cut the long story short, I arrived in Brazil and it was a wonderful and exciting experience joining the rest of the world to witness the 2014 FIFA world cup. All participants at the expert workshop forum comprise of women rights activists and women journalists from Mexico, Iran, Nigeria, Cameroon, Argentina, Uruguay, Iran, Australia, Brazil, USA and Germany, our host. During our workshops, we discussed various topics, ranging from societal, cultural and behavioural attitudes to women who play football or have the dream and passion to play football and every one of us spoke from their experiences back at home, it is all the same, women and girls are not encouraged to play football, it is even worse in Africa where the boy child struggles to choose football as a career not to talk of the girl child where she is expected to do only kitchen work and raising of kids. And so in regards to this, we took to the streets in Rio de Janeiro, campaigning and advocating that women also can play football as well as men and the society and families should not frown at it. When women and girls play football, they are empowered and also productive and adding value to themselves and the society at large. We then gathered at the street square to play football to see if other women will be encouraged to join us and we were glad they did. In a country like Brazil, or even Argentina, one would expect that female football would be very popular but we discovered it is the same struggle for the football space as in other countries too. And again, as part of our campaign for women to be allowed to play football, we sealed our lips and played football on the streets, signifying that even though women play football, it is still silent, people don’t talk much about it and they are not as excited to watch women play as much as they do men, and this is all because of the stereotypes, women should not play football but to sit at home and do the kitchen work. We also played football at the Maracana beach and a lot of women joined us, men watched us, everyone was happy, and we used that opportunity to share to the people around that women can be empowered though the game of football. There are many women out there who are not employed and lack resources to start any business but then have the capacity and passion to engage in sports, they can be encouraged and it will go a long way in creating development if women are also allowed to play football as freely as the men. For me I am so happy because if not for my being online, I wouldn’t have been in Brazil, i have added new networks to my work and this feels great. it is a way forward for me and for my Organization. So now I know for sure, that indeed there are great opportunities for women and girls empowerment in the internet.