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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Can Girls Play Soccer?

The obvious answer to that question would be "Hell Yes!", but it's not so obvious an answer to some people.

In Argentina, and in particular the slums of Argentina, it is not such an easy question to answer.

I have been supporting Fundación Leer to help reach under-served children and promote a love of reading in them. One of our last events took place in Villa 31.

Recently another project aimed at helping young people in that community has come to my attention.

A fellow expat and her Argentine husband are filming a documentary about a group of girls who fight to play a sport they love, but is off limits to women in Argentina: Soccer.

This might sound crazy to most people, but in Argentina soccer is strictly a man's sport. I know this first hand, since I have tried to get my own kids interested in kicking the ball around only to be met by disinterest that has been soaked up by their surroundings.

When the filmakers started following the girls in 2008, only a dozen or so ventured onto the field. Now, there are more than 25!

The documentary shows how playing soccer has transformed their lives, as well as how difficult this transformation can be-girls have to battle parents and a society that see them only as future maids, criminals or teenage mothers.

For example, Chechu was one of the team's most promising players when she became pregnant at 15. However, her family was happy for her to become a mom, as in the Villa, it is considered a rite of passage for many girls.

She now lives outside of the slum with her boyfriend and his family, who do not approve of her playing soccer.

Will she make her own path, or end up becoming a statistic?

Will any of the other girls be able to fight the odds?

This documentary is not only about them, but by them as well. The experiences of these "slum soccer girls" will not only be documented by filmmakers, but the girls themselves will contribute through a video workshop where they will learn how to interview and do basic camera work.

You will get an uncensored view into their world and the girls will begin to take back the narrative of their own lives.

Below is a short 60 second clip on the movie.



So, can girls play soccer? Left to themselves they might not be able to. If you would like to help them click here.

Meanwhile, wouldn't it be nice if any of them could eventually end up being the next Mia Hamm? I mean, Pelé, Maradona, and Carlitos Tevez and quite a few others have come from slums....




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