How an idea became reality - and how it is possible to change the world
Futebol dá força was founded in 2012 by Cecilia Andrén Nystrom, at the time 20 years old. Cecilia is convinced that football can change the world – and went to the third poorest country in the world, Mozambique, simply to try if the idea could be put into practice. She started Futebol dá força, which means 'football gives strength' in Portuguese. The project aims at strengthening girls' self-confidence and to provide knowledge that will enable girls to change their future into one they want themselves. The sport becomes a neutral meeting place where the girls get knowledge - and power.
Now, with results in hand, she is even more convinced that football can change the world. In less than a year Futebol dá força developed from being one single team, which Cecilia coached herself, into a nationwide movement through a collaboration between the Mozambican Lurdes Mutola Foundation implementing the project and the Swedish Futebol dá força dealing with finance and administration. Both organizations are run by Cecilia, but in Mozambique the project is run by the national project coordinator Sara 'Sarita' Jacob Simone together with the other six fulltime employees. Partner organizations are among others the Mozambican Football Federation and the Ministries of Youth & Sport and Education. Today, a little over a year from when we started, we have 196 voluntary coaches all over the country with ca 4000 active girls.
The coaches are young dedicated volunteers who are educated as football coaches, but also in human rights, sexual & reproductive health and how to prevent HIV/AIDS and sexual & domestic violence. With the team sport football as a communicative tool the coaches have the opportunity to change prevailing attitudes and structures in society that today prevent girls from living the lives they should be able to live. Our goal is to enable Mozambican girls to improve their own living conditions by empowering them and giving them necessary knowledge to change their individual situation to the better.
Life as a Mozambican young girl is far from easy. Few girls finish school and over 50 % of all girls get married before the age of 18. Because of that many suffer the consequences of early and unwanted pregnancies and a large impact of HIV. Girls grow up without even knowing that only they themselves can decide over their own body. The hierarchical traditional culture does not make it easier, and a girl's future is in most cases not something that the girl can influence herself.
But this we believe we can change with a little football, and with Futebol dá força we are well on our way to do it! 4000 girls today have something fun to do in addition to all household chores, and they have a meeting point where they can meet and talk with other girls in similar situations. The girls get better self-confidence and knowledge that enable them to improve their future prospects, and to change their future dreams into actual goals that they can achieve if they fight for it and believe in themselves!
After the success in Mozambique, Futebol dá força has been launched in Zambia and Sweden - an amazing development less than two years from the start!