The English Football Association has visited South Africa to offer its support to a new project which aims to encourage females in Cape Town to get involved in football.
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The English Football Association (FA) continued its partnership with the international charity Coaching for Hope (CFH) when representatives travelled to Cape Town, South Africa to see CFH's latest project, entitled Empowerment of Women and Girls Through Football.
Launched in June, the project brings together CFH, the city of Cape Town and six community-based, local organisations to encourage positive youth development. The focus is on promoting gender equality by inspiring women to take an active role in their community and allowing girls to participate in a sport that is commonly inaccessible to them.
With the help of local non-governmental organisations and training sessions delivered by South African Football Association (SAFA) instructor Marion February, as well as two coaches from the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, Karen Hills and Olivia Worsfold, CFH now has a number of local women coordinating and delivering regular football activity to girls aged 12 to 18 for an initial 20-week period.
During a four-day visit, the FA was able to understand some of the challenges these women and girls face in their communities and, by attending various training sessions as well as an inter-community tournament, was also able to observe an already hugely successful collaborative project.
Maria de Leon, international development manager at the FA, said: "Having already worked with CFH on a number of projects, it came as no surprise to see that, even only three weeks in, the project was already having an extremely positive effect on the women and girls involved.
"Some of the girls had never had the opportunity to play football before and I witnessed group after group of immensely happy faces and a more than decent amount of skill. I remain thoroughly impressed and humbled by the enthusiasm and energy in everything CFH and the project's different partners do – I don't believe The FA could have a better international charity partner."
CFH project officer Lucy Mills, who has been responsible for the smooth running of the initiative, added: "We now have regular, safe and consistent activity for girls in six communities and the eventual aim to have functioning women and girls' clubs in place by the end of the year certainly seems achievable."
The project's women have the necessary support to not only develop their coaching skills, thus building their own self-confidence, but are also being encouraged to talk about the problems they face in their communities, such as a lack of access to playing fields, alcohol and substance misuse, and physical abuse.
The project's main goal is for women to lead women with the aim of supporting local communities to create a sustainable positive environment in which football can be accessible to all.