Name: Nanfuka Rose   Position: attacking middle fielder Age: 12 years

How Football saved me from getting married when I am just 12 years

I joined the Balamu football Academy when I heard that the football Academy accepts girls , I spoke to my mother about it she told  me  that”, this will  help me  not to get married when you complete your P.7,”  when she told me that  I got shocked!

My mother said that she doesn’t have money to finance my secondary Education if I play football in our culture no man would like to marry a girl who plays football, I should be on the team until I grow up.

I didn’t know that my daddy, Aunts and relatives have already got a man to marry me immediately when I finish my exams. Then I said to my “If it is football to save me from getting married at my age I will play it better than boys.

We started the training but many people in my community shouted at me but I didn’t give up, one day my coach told me  that my skills have improved quickly I should start doing the training with the boys.

In December last we had a very intensive tournament with a football academy from Kampala, my coach told me that I will also play the game under fourteen with the boys I got so excited and ready to prove to everybody in my community that girls can also do better. However when I appeared on the pitch with the boys everybody started shouting that “girls do not play football, I am  embarrassing the whole community , I become a source of abuse but my coach told me not to mind I should prove to them that I can do it.

When the game began the keeper from Star young football Academy underestimated my ability and didn’t take me as a throat , I got a cross from Musisi , I score our first goal  but usually when teams get the goal they always celebrate with their fans but to me that was the painful moment I have ever experiencedOur own supporters started throwing water bottles at me! Using abusive words against me! and some claimed that I was in offside position.

When the second half began I was replaced but what was important to me was after the march, the guest of honor on that day announced that I have acquired a full sports bursary to study my secondary education until I complete my secondary Education, I was very excited filled with tears of joy, I never thought that if I play football I will ever get an opportunity of education.

I thank my team manage, coaches for giving me this opportunity and accepting girls to play football if it was not this program I wouldn’t know what next in  my life.

I do encourage girls to come out to play football no matter what people say about them, football has helped me to get full bursary for my secondary education which I have never dreamed of and saved me from getting married at the age of 12 years.

What an amazing story!

If we can help girls avoid such early marriages, what an achievement that would be!

Please support this academy so that it can offer other girls in the community the same opportunity, the chance of secondary education through football.

 Rachel Musementa

My name is Rachel and I am 12 years old.  I stay with my single mother because my daddy died. I spent a year at home without going to school because my mother didn’t have money to take me to school.

I am happy that my football academy gave me the opportunity of going back to school in order to study in Mukono, a town away from this village.

I encourage all girls at Wasswa village to play football and work hard to be like me.

Ssentamu Akram 10 years

I used to stay at home with my grandmother, but at home there was no food and sometimes we could not eat. Even when we had food there was never enough. I thank my football coach who used to buy me some food so that I could play football. My football Academy allowed me to go back to school.  I thank Allyson and Karren from the USA who bought for me football boots. I love food and I love playing football.

Bayo Eric 12 years

I left my mother’s home to come to Wasswa so that I could play football. I am very happy that my friends took me to their home so that I can live there and play football. The chairperson of the Academy told me to start living at his home and also go to school. I love to play football like Ronaldo.

Bukenya Balikuddembe (Boy Nick name) 9 years

My name is Boy 9 years old my dad died last month in August 2018, I have 5 sisters and 2 brothers I am very happy for my Academy to obtain for the sports bursary now I can play football and go to school. I want to be the next Ronaldo.

Nampijja Shadia  8 year

Recently another girl, Nampijja, stood at the side of the football pitch where she lives in a small one room mud hut with her pregnant mother and two brothers. One of our volunteer coaches asked why she wasn’t playing on the academy’s team. Nampijja told our volunteer coach she did not have football shoes and could not afford them in order to join the team. The volunteer bought the football shoes for Nampijja and  paid for her registration fee , she joined the team in July 2018. Now she is working towards earning the opportunity for a free education and a better life.