Kicking stereotypes off the field

July 15, 2014

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Over the past one month, Bangladesh has been eagerly following their favourite football teams during the FIFA World Cup. BRAC decided to harness this nationwide enthusiasm by organising a match between Brazil and Argentina – two of the country’s most beloved teams. However, the players themselves were made up of girls from BRAC’s adolescent development programme’s (ADP) adolescent clubs. The best players were selected from across Bangladesh to ensemble the two teams who played a friendly game against each other on 27 June at the T&T field in Motijheel, Dhaka.

Over the past one month, Bangladesh has been eagerly following their favourite football teams during the FIFA World Cup. BRAC decided to harness this nationwide enthusiasm by organising a match between Brazil and Argentina – two of the country’s most beloved teams. However, the players themselves were made up of girls from BRAC’s adolescent development programme’s (ADP) adolescent clubs. The best players were selected from across Bangladesh to ensemble the two teams who played a friendly game against each other on 27 June at the T&T field in Motijheel, Dhaka.

The two teams march onto the field, ready to start the game. For girls – especially for those from marginalised backgrounds – participating in sports was previously an impossible scenario. However, girls from BRAC’s adolescent clubs are being conditioned to overcome that belief. Through the sports for development initiative, ADP aims to equip these girls with skills to effectively challenge social norms from within their own communities, so that they can take control of their life and be independent. The adolescent clubs not only provides girls with access to sports, but does it in an enabling environment where girls can play without fearing harassment or violence.

The two teams march onto the field, ready to start the game. For girls – especially for those from marginalised backgrounds – participating in sports was previously an impossible scenario. However, girls from BRAC’s adolescent clubs are being conditioned to overcome that belief.
Through the sports for development initiative, ADP aims to equip these girls with skills to effectively challenge social norms from within their own communities, so that they can take control of their life and be independent. The adolescent clubs not only provides girls with access to sports, but does it in an enabling environment where girls can play without fearing harassment or violence.

At the sound of referee’s whistle, Brazil starts kicking off and moving the ball inside Argentina’s half, as Argentina tries to whip the ball away. Sports promote all that, which society has denied for girls – persistence, negotiation, goal setting, team work, leadership as well as individuality. These girls rise above the contorted societal norms as they play it out in the field to win!

At the sound of referee’s whistle, Brazil starts kicking off and moving the ball inside Argentina’s half, as Argentina tries to whip the ball away.
Sports promote all that, which society has denied for girls – persistence, negotiation, goal setting, team work, leadership as well as individuality. These girls rise above the contorted societal norms as they play it out in the field to win!

About 25 minutes into the game, Shamoly Bosak takes a brilliant shot and gives Brazil the edge with a one goal lead. Shamoly, captain of the Brazilian team, is also a volunteer coach and has played in multiple club matches.

About 25 minutes into the game, Shamoly Bosak takes a brilliant shot and gives Brazil the edge with a one goal lead. Shamoly, captain of the Brazilian team, is also a volunteer coach and has played in multiple club matches.

Irene Parveen, the captain of Argentina, equalises with Brazil with a goal just before the half-time.

Irene Parveen, the captain of Argentina, equalises with Brazil with a goal just before the half-time.

The adolescent clubs provide safe spaces for girls where they can socialise. Due to restrictions in mobility, girls are often kept within the domestic sphere. Through the clubs, these girls have bonded and hence they are present in the event to cheer for their friends and their respective favourite teams.

The adolescent clubs provide safe spaces for girls where they can socialise. Due to restrictions in mobility, girls are often kept within the domestic sphere. Through the clubs, these girls have bonded and hence they are present in the event to cheer for their friends and their respective favourite teams.

Brazil enjoying a lot of opportunities down the right, but Argentina also has their moments, as both sides attempt to secure a second goal. The thirst to achieve the win only increases amongst the girls as the game progresses. Due to their involvement in sports, these girls have enhanced their self-esteem, have more confidence.

Brazil enjoying a lot of opportunities down the right, but Argentina also has their moments, as both sides attempt to secure a second goal.
The thirst to achieve the win only increases amongst the girls as the game progresses. Due to their involvement in sports, these girls have enhanced their self-esteem, have more confidence.

Brazil plays itself into danger this time as three players of Argentina block their possession and lurches towards Brazil’s goal post. Jannatul Ferdous buries the ball into the net giving her team, Argentina, a 2-1 lead.

Brazil plays itself into danger this time as three players of Argentina block their possession and lurches towards Brazil’s goal post. Jannatul Ferdous buries the ball into the net giving her team, Argentina, a 2-1 lead.

Brazil tries their best to overcome the setback by producing another goal, but in vain. As the players of both the teams give it all to win the match, they prove that how inaccurate it is to assume that girls hate sports before even giving them the opportunity to try it out. Girls can enjoy participating in sports and are not afraid to get a little dirty in the process. (Photo credit: Prothom Alo/Sumon Yusuf)

Brazil tries their best to overcome the setback by producing another goal, but in vain.
As the players of both the teams give it all to win the match, they prove that how inaccurate it is to assume that girls hate sports before even giving them the opportunity to try it out. Girls can enjoy participating in sports and are not afraid to get a little dirty in the process. (Photo credit: Prothom Alo/Sumon Yusuf)

Argentina rejoices their 2-1 victory over Brazil. Apart from the trophy for the winning team, both the teams received prize money of BDT 60,000. The amount has been equally distributed among all the players of the two teams.

Argentina rejoices their 2-1 victory over Brazil. Apart from the trophy for the winning team, both the teams received prize money of BDT 60,000. The amount has been equally distributed among all the players of the two teams.

The enthusiasm and zeal, with which the girls performed on the field, drew audience’s keen attention to the match. Sports promote integration and involvement and have the power to affect people everywhere regardless of demography or social status. Considering this, it is indeed ironic that when it comes to participation, girls are not provided with adequate opportunity. Girls do not lack the willingness or ability to participate in sports, they lack support from the society and scope. This match demonstrated leadership skill, individuality, and confidence, which sports has developed in these girls, kicking the stereotypes that question girls’ suitability or worthiness in sports off the field.

Maeesha Saiara Khaled is a communications officer and sub-editor at BRAC.

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