International Women's Day. March 8.
It's a day that's celebrated around the world and has particular meaning to me since I work primarly with girls at the school level. So I thought to myself, what activity could I do to promote girls, show the community something a little new and have fun at the same time? Of course, a Girls' Soccer Match!
Thanks to my Dad and his gift of some really nice soccer balls, I decided to add a little competitive edge as well to get the girls (and all the students, for that matter) motivated and excited. The idea was to give the winning class a brand new soccer ball, but I decided to also give the 'losing' class another soccer ball as well, so everyone wins.
The CM2 girls were in my Girls' Club last year and thanks to Ali, know a little bit about the rules and how to play (cultural side note: here in Burkina Faso, soccer is a predominantly male sport. Rarely, if ever, do you see women, let alone girls, play soccer). And my CM1 girls were currently learning the ins-and-outs of soccer at our weekly Girls' Club meetings.
Because of everything that's been going on in Burkina Faso, the soccer match had to be pushed back to April 12. Not a problem! Ali served as the referee and everything seemed to be set. The day arrived, school ended and all the kids were getting excited. The girls were even wearing jerseys that the school somehow had, stashed away in the closet!
It was absolutely exhilarating and exciting to watch these girls play, and certainly showed the community their ability to do anything. Seriously! Until things took a turn for the worse...
...I guess I should first start with soccer being not just a sport, but almost a way of life. Especially for Burkinabè. They take it very, very seriously, and losing is no easy thing to take.
Because it's been so long, I don't remember the exact details but the CM2 girls were losing and their CM2 teacher instantly got angry at Ali, the referee, for an alleged unfair call. The CM1 girls made a penalty kick and won, but the CM2 teacher wouldn't take it...so he stormed off the field and took all of his kids with him. Talk about bad sportsmanship, right?
At the time, I didn't quite understand what was going on until Madame Ouattara, my neighbor and CM1 teacher, explained. Crap! So now I felt awkwardly wedged between all of this confusion.
Long story short, I made certain that everyone knew that the school actually gained two soccer balls and that the community knew that girls can play soccer. And that's the essential message from all of this.