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Mar 8, 2012
Girls League Football launch proceedings, via Craig Bellamy Foundation

Girls League Football launch proceedings in Sierra Leone on March 8, 2012, International Women's Day (via Craig Bellamy Foundation)

Created in 2007, the Craig Bellamy Foundation is “a charity offering underprivileged children in Sierra Leone the chance to reach their true potential through sport and education”, and I’m spotlighting their work today because they’ve chosen International Women’s Day to launch their girls football league.

According to a press release provided by Development Officer Tom Ellis, “Sierra Leone is currently ranked 180 out of 187 on the UN’s Human Development Index, with gender inequality identified as one of the key issues affecting progress.”

The Girls League will affect 200 girls, providing them with opportunities in sport and education. In addition to the benefits of participation in team sport — like fitness, self-respect and leadership skills – all participants in the Girls League will be given full academic scholarships.

This initiative follows the successful implementation of a similar Boys League for under-14s that was set up in 2009. The CBF Youth Development League’s structure “harnesses a love of football to promote education and community work among Sierra Leone’s young people – with school attendance, participation in community projects, fair-play and match results given equal weighting when determining league positions.”

The results? According to CBF’s press release:

  • School attendance of participants is above 90% (compared with a national average of just 21% (UNICEF, 2009))
  • Over 500 community projects to improve sanitation and the local environment have been implemented
  • Nearly 50,000 people have accessed key health messages regarding malaria and HIV prevention.
  • After last year’s successful pilot programme, the newly-expanded Women’s League will take place in the communities around the cities of Makeni and Kenema.

The Foundation’s CEO Tim Kellow said the following, in anticipation of the program launch:

“After a hugely successful debut season, we are delighted that this year’s expanded League will include more girls in new parts of the country. For many of the girls, involvement in the League has empowered them to lead change in their communities which is helping to challenge gender stereotypes that have traditionally restricted opportunities for women.”

Happy International Women’s Day.

Follow the Craig Bellamy Foundation on Twitter at @craigbellamysl

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