Football for women’s rights in Sudan

Director of Favela Street, Rocky Hehakija was invited by Dutch ambassador Karin Boven to come to Sudan and empower female footballers. Karin has been supporting for about three years the local women’s football team Tahaddi. The football team of girls and women between 15 and 20 years of age practiced on a small field in Khartoum. As undercover as possible, because female      footballers were not allowed in Sudan for a long time. Shortly after the fall of the al-Bashir regime, the first women’s football competition started in Sudan. Already 21 teams existed. Team Tahaddi played in the first game. For more support Rocky organized a special Favela Street program.

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Rocky Hehakaija and Karin Boven met during the “women empowerment” event that Foreign Affairs organized during the annual ambassadors’ conference in early 2019. Hehakaija’s story about her organization “Favela Street Foundation” connected well with the work of the embassy. Both used sport as a means to let women determine and tell their own story. Training by Hehakaija would support the women’s team – and women’s rights in Sudan. The agreement to come to Khartoum was made quickly, but was delayed. The travel advice for Sudan was tightened up at the time of the demonstrations. When the situation improved, Hehakaija still booked a ticket.

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“Through the ball you can easily make contact anywhere in the world,” Hehakaija said just before the first training session. “Of course we get started with street football tricks. But my trainings are also about something else. These women are superheroes. It is impressive to see how they challenge the limits. Some may see me as a role model. But I think I can learn a lot from this team. They are a new generation of role models, and I want to show them that. “Whether they succeeded? In any case, the team closed the clinics by organizing a football training to a group of talented young girls.

In 2020 the collaboration between the Dutch Embassy and Favela Street will continue with a full program, so stay tuned.

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