In March 2014, just 3 months ahead of the FIFA World Cup, the Street Child World Cup will unite street-connected children from across the world to play football and campaign for street children’s rights.
For the first time the Street Child World Cup kick’s off a girls-only competition as 10 teams of street-connected girls, aged 14 – 17, will play football and take part in a unique international conference highlighting the issues girls face living and working on the streets.
The girls’ tournament is an important statement of solidarity with street girls who are so often unseen and denied the opportunities to play sport. It provides these girls with an even greater opportunity to change perceptions, challenge stereotypes and for their stories to be heard on a global platform.
“Some of the street children need to speak. So I’m here speaking as a street child, to help them – not only me. Because I know that I can have a better life, but I want to help the other people too. We want to say that we need help, support, proper food, and an education. I feel that I’m their voice, speaking their feelings, because I feel what they feel.” Crystal, Team Philippines
We don’t want the girls’ tournament to be seen as separate from the Street Child World Cup as a whole – it is crucial to engage boys with the issues girls on the streets face, since they are often (but not always) the perpetrators of such abuse – through engaging both girls and boys together we can ensure supportive and respectful behaviours are taught.
Street connected girls often lack visible role models and sport can offer these – as well as a chance to realise their dreams. We have support from women’s national team and league. They will, as role models and ambassadors for the girls, run workshops and mentor the girls during their time in Rio.
“I know what a difference football can make to young girl’s lives and I’ll be supporting you on your Road to Rio – no girl should have to live on the streets” Alex Scott, Arsenal and England
The issues for girls:
Girls are more often abused, denied opportunities and basic rights. It is a sad reality that many girls are on the street due the simple fact that they are a girl – some come to the street for example because they are escaping a life of domestic servitude, expected due to their gender. The kinds of situations girls have left behind when they arrived on the streets often make reintegration with girls far more complex.
Typically, there are fewer girls than boys on the streets – in many places they stay hidden either to protect themselves or because once they come to the streets they are forced to get involved in less visible activities such as prostitution. Gender stereotypes are being lived out because girls are not properly supported or represented – they are neglected, marginalized and vulnerable to gender-based violence and abuse, both on the streets and in the situations leading up to their arrival there. There are not enough specific services for street connected girls, and many projects find it difficult to engage them.
But we don’t want to just focus on the hardships and injustices girls face on the street. The Street Child World Cup girls tournament is an opportunity to talk about the positives – show the world their potential and hopes for the future.
You can join the girls on the Road to Rio by following and sharing their stories here.
“I experienced hardcore street life in my youth. I know what it’s like. I congratulate the Street Child World Cup project in it’s commitment to bring attention to the plight of Street Children through the power of football.”
“When ever people come across me they laugh. It seems like my mouth is zipped because they talk for us. I wish they could give us a chance to talk for ourselves.”
“It was a privilege to be invited to the launch of the Street Child World Cup at Downing Street. It gives children a voice through football, sales a platform to express their rights and celebrate their abilities – I’m proud to add my support.”