Kick it like a Girl! Young Women Push Themselves Through Football in the African Public Space
This project examines the engagement of girls in junior football teams as a real experience of citizenship. It focuses on the political experiences for girls by playing in a local club, on the means to individually and collectively confront the norms that structure society and on the gender sensitivity of youth public policies.
About the project
Far more than a simple sport, football is a social institution in Africa. Competitive or recreational football occupies both the physical and the symbolic spaces and gives its practitioners access to material resources, networks and recognition. As players or fans, girls and women are by no means absent from football in Africa but it is still a masculine bastion and discrimination against girls takes multiple forms. Despite the many challenges facing them, more and more girls get involved with the sport in its practice and its team building capacity.
This project examines the engagement of girls in junior football teams as a real experience of citizenship. Indeed, the collective and associative aspects of girls’ commitment to play football are crucial to understand the processes of confrontation with, interpretation of and renegotiation of gender norms and social roles. In practical terms, the project is based on two case studies in Africa: Cameroon and Senegal. For each country, we address the following perspectives:
- Playing in a local club as a political experience for girls;
- Being a member of a social group, such as a football club, as a means to individually and collectively confront the norms that structure society;
- Gender sensitivity of youth public policies.
What characterizes this ethnographic research project is its inclusiveness of girls during both the research and the dissemination of results phases. Young football players will be active participants in the project by producing a corpus of audio-visual data and by communicating with political actors and with their peers. Through this process, our aim is to propose a renewed gender agenda on participatory forms of citizenship for young women.
Our approach to sport, gender and citizenship of girls targets a blind spot in the literature and politics of development. We argue that beyond the performance in sport, being involved in a football team as a girl has a meaning in terms of cultural and public commitment. This perspective will help fill the knowledge gaps and contribute to academic debates at the intersection of empowerment, sport and development, participation and citizenship. It will contribute to the policy debates surrounding the Sustainable Development Goals and their operationalization.
Highlights and most important results
- A kick-off meeting was held in in Yaounde, Cameroon, between 14th and 18th of January 2019. A public conference was held at UCAC (Catholic University of Central Africa) (UCAC) on January 16th with the opening words by His Excellency, Ambassador Pietro Lazzeri, Swiss Ambassdor in Yaoundé and the participation of Andrea Nymasi, (former goalkeeper of the Indomitable Lionesses, coach of the goalkeepers of the Cameroon women's team, U20)
- Contacts have been established with several women football teams and their coaches. Ethnographic fieldwork is underway in Yaoundé (Cameroon), Dakar, Saint-Louis and Ziguinchor (Senegal).
Project link to P3