The women’s national football coach Hope Powell and team captain Faye White have joined forces to promote the work of UK football charity Coaching for Hope in South Africa.
Powell and White recently attended the launch of the charity’s ‘Grassroots Girls – African Women into Football’ project at Wembley Stadium.
Coaching for Hope uses football as a vehicle to deliver education programmes to young people in some of the most challenging environments around the world. As an official charity partner of The Football Association, it trains youth workers and football coaches local to the areas where young people are most at risk.
“We take things for granted in our country,”
said Powell, “We will moan if we haven’t got a ball each, then you go there and see what they have got. I think it just gives you an appreciation of what is happening in the rest of the world, and it’s very humbling.”
White added, “Football can help give people an identity. It provides an opportunity to interact with others who have the same problems that you do and makes you realise you can actually work through them.”
Having already trained over 1,000 coaches in 10 countries, the charity uses a specially created curriculum, which combines excellence in coaching with integrated sessions that are designed to create awareness and discussion of issues such as HIV and AIDS, substance misuse and disability rights.
There is also now a module entitled ‘Coaching Women and Girls’ that specifically seeks to address some of the issues affecting young women in South Africa, such as a lack of access to education, high levels of teenage pregnancy as well as HIV and AIDS. Females make up 77% of the 10% of South Africans aged between 15 and 24 years, who are infected with the virus.
Powell added, “I went to South Africa and did some coaching with the participants. The people I worked with were just so appreciative of people going out there. It was a very different experience, but they never complain, they just got on with it.
“You look at what they have got, and what we have got, and yet they just work the best way they can with very little. It’s really humbling having seen it first hand.”
Powell, who guided England to the World Cup quarter-finals in Germany this summer, passionately believes in the game as a vehicle for societal change, “You can use football in so many ways. It embraces so many things; it’s about meeting people, it’s about teamwork, about solidarity.
“There is a togetherness which really comes through and I think you can educate people through sport.”
“When I was growing up and playing, it taught me discipline. It taught me about sharing and working with people. It’s a great vehicle for bringing all of those skills out of people. I guess it’s a different way of teaching.”
White added, “Football has allowed me to get certain things in my life – obviously nothing compared to what people in other countries might have to fight against – but for me it was always something that I could channel everything into.
“It helped me get through some hard times. It gave me a purpose. It made me feel like I belonged to do something, I enjoyed it and I was good at it. It challenges you – I’ve done things that I never dreamt I could do. “
This summer as part of the project, two coaches from the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, Karen Hills and Olivia Worsfold, delivered a coaching clinic to 30 women, while in November a study tour will seek to raise awareness and financial support for the charity’s work.
Eventually the ‘Coaching Women and Girls’ module will have trained 90 new coaches in South Africa and Botswana, who will organise regular football activity for 2000 girls aged between 11 and 18 years.
Coaching for Hope Chief Executive Jane Carter said, “Football is a great passion for so many people all over the world and we find it is a brilliant vehicle for achieving societal change.
“I think people in sport, and particularly in women’s sport, can relate to what we are trying to achieve, maybe contribute to it and then help to widen their own horizons.”
This article was provided by www.connectsport.co.uk