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Kicking Girls: Integration through football

Young soccer players practicing
© imago images
  • Kicking Girls: using football to promote social integration
  • Seventy per cent of participants come from a migrant background
  • The project is based on various elements

This year’s FIFA Fan Award once again showed clearly that football can be so much more than just a sport. A love of the beautiful game can strengthen the bond between a mother and her son, break down barriers, bring people together and help promote integration.

In 2006, these kinds of values inspired former professional football Tugba Tekkal to launch the Scoring Girls integration project, centred around playing sport together, escaping everyday life and encouraging team spirit and a sense of community.

Similarly, Kicking Girls appeals to youngsters both with and without a migrant background. This initiative uses football to help facilitate integration. Kicking Girls offers participants the opportunity to take part in football teams and tournaments at school and complete training to become coaches.

"It’s a fantastic project, as the girls are trained by female coaches and get the chance to play in an environment that is familiar to them, namely their school," explained former Germany goalkeeper and Kicking Girls patron Jens Lehmann on the project’s website.

"This makes taking part in training less daunting, especially for girls from a migrant background. During my own playing career, I experienced that the colour of your skin, the country you come from and the religion you practice don’t matter when you’re out on the pitch. All that matters is the team."

How it all began

The MICK – Kicking Girls initiative was launched in the primary schools of Oldenburg more than ten years ago and quickly became a resounding success. Sport helped the girls taking part to build their self-confidence, while the schools themselves also benefited as the youngsters’ school work improved.

These exceptional results meant the concept was soon rolled out across Germany and even proved popular internationally. Kicking Girls is the product of this success story.

Four-stage programme for successful integration

The project adopted the guiding principles of integration, appreciation, participation and empowerment, which are implemented with the help of a four-stage programme.

Stage 1

  • Football is used to awaken a lasting interest in sport and encourage girls to participate in football teams and tournaments at school. Even today, it is not always common for girls to play football and in many countries it is anything but normal. Girls-only training sessions help the youngsters to earn the trust of their parents, whose support is crucial, and slowly introduce the girls to the beautiful game.

Stage 2

  • Taking part in sport at school is the first step towards playing for a club, where training is regular and performance-focused. The integrative power of football can be used to impart values such as discipline, team spirit, ambition and self-belief.

Stage 3

  • Taking part in teams and extracurricular activities such as playing for a club help and encourage girls to take on responsibilities such as looking after younger children. Having a female figure to talk to is important for all girls, particularly those from a migrant background.

Stage 4

  • Taking personal responsibility also helps girls to become confident in their own abilities. The next step involves taking on roles both in their school teams and for their clubs. By volunteering in this way, participants become role models in their own right, create a whole new host of opportunities for themselves and build lasting structures.

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