For too long, women and girls have been excluded from the playing field—literally. But now, many are paving the way in the fight against gender inequality through sports.
A video ad
is being screened before every match at the Africa Cup of Nations currently under way in Equatorial Guinea. Part of African Football Against Hunger
, a joint initiative by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Confederation of African Football (CAF), it shows a player dribbling a football, taking a shot and scoring – the winning kick is a metaphor for ending hunger in Africa by 2025.
Growing up with five brothers, soccer-mad Majidah Nantanda had half a team to compete against at home in Makindye, a suburb in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. But at her school, in the 1990s, there were two sports rules: “Netball for the girls and football for the boys,” recalls the 32-year-old, as she stands on the sidelines of a boy’s game in Makindye.
It is almost 6pm. A group of kids are plying their craft in a dusty, dirty courtyard in a poor neighbourhood in Yaounde, Cameroon’s capital. That craft is football. They kick the once-white-but-now-brown, aged football around. One child is barefoot, the other wears worn shoes and is dressed in the kit of the national team.
It seemed like “a good deal” at the time, but then things changed. That description of the 2006 purchase of a U.S. refinery, one of the oil industry scandals hanging over the Brazilian government’s head, could also apply to attitudes towards the FIFA World Cup.
It is unusual to see Cuban sports legends in public service announcements. However, a handful of champions and rising young stars are wearing messages or appearing in TV spots against violence among men or toward women.
Oblivious to the cloud of dust they have kicked up in just a few minutes, panting and sweating, moving lithely, this way, then that, they jostle the ball smoothly until one team scores a goal.
One victim of the remodelling of Brazil’s Maracaná football stadium in preparation for the World Cup is the old Museum of the Indian, where people from different indigenous groups have attempted to keep their culture alive in the heart of Rio de Janeiro.
Victorine Fomum is Cameroon’s 2005 African table tennis champion. She often used to “train without rackets, without balls, without appropriate clothing and without good tables.” But despite this, she won gold at the 2005 African Nations Championship. And as a reward for her achievement the government handed her a cheque – for 25 dollars.
The football teams are back in their refugee camps in Algeria, and no, FIFA has taken no note of this tournament. And the television cameras are all at the Euro cup.