What can we do in our community to keep our girls safe?
The IKasi soccer school is an after-school program that gives girls an equal opportunity to participate in an all-girls soccer club. The combination of soccer and the life skills program educate the girls on what their rights are in the community and how to be confident individuals that can decide what their future will look like.
Within Khayelitsha safety, especially for young women is a big concern that IKasi soccer school constantly thinks about when planning practices and tournaments. The youth in this community are facing abuse, pregnancy, alcoholism, gangsterism, and gender stereotyping that is incrementally getting worse because of continued peer pressure. A lack of stable homes with guardians to watch over the young children is only making the problem which is why a program such as IKasi is so important. Providing young children with positive role models from a young age can drastically change their attitude and performance in school, at home, and decisions made inside the community.
Many factors are considered every day by the coaches including, weather. The coaches know many of the girls walk long distances to get to school so if the weather is poor, practice will be canceled to make sure the girls get home safe. Since there is no indoor field for them to play on, many practices get called off during the winter season. Walking home wet and cold after a long day in class followed by an hour long would lead many girls to getting very sick and potentially getting pulled from the program all together by the parents.
After each practice the coaches divide up and walk the girl’s home since the practices get out later in the day. One day, IKasi dreams of having a team van that could easily allow transportation of the girls to and from school. Our hashtag, We Are Safe, is one of the ways we hope to spread our mission amongst the community. Knowledge in the community needs to be shared in regard to how much a soccer can help prevent the youth from a long life of bad decisions.
Soccer not only provides a physical benefit for children, but it teaches them life skills and builds confidence that cannot be taught in a classroom. Practices teach the girls about the impact that accountability and constant support can have on one another. These skills are not exclusive to the sport of soccer, they create building blocks that can be carried into many other parts of their lives including helping each and every girl become stronger leaders that have the ability to make positive changes in our community.
Each child should be able to walk to and from anywhere within the township safely with no fear of something horrible happening to them. IKasi has built a family that supports one in another in countless ways, the expansion of skills and knowledge makes every girl stronger and less likely to be affected by the negative pieces in our township.