First football club for women started in Isiolo county to fight extremism

Isiolo Queens FC poses for a photo after a training session _Photo/Dido Boru/County Guardian News


Isiolo County

By Dido Boru

He watches as she moves the ball to her left leg then to the right. She controls confidently and passes it to her teammate at dusty and sun blasted Wabera football ground in Isiolo County.

Adan Hussein is the team manager of Isiolo Queens. A girl’s football club which he begun it April last year. The 23-member football team trains every day in the evenings during the school holiday.

He started the football team with the aim of empowering Isiolo girls. He says that he was motivated by desire to nature girl’s talent and the need to curb radicalization that made him start the football team.

“Girls are lured by radical groups to become Al-Shaabab wives.  We aim to keep them busy through football” says Adan who is a teacher at local Uhuru Mixed Day Secondary school.

Indeed Mr. Adan has used his position as a teacher to convince parents to allow their girls to play football. But this has   not been an easy task. The local pastoralist community is very conservative. When he approached them to allow the girls to join his new football club, the community resisted.

In pastoralist communities especialliy the Borana and Somali, the place of girl child is in the kitchen, to cook and learn how to be a good wife in order to raise family of her own when she is married.

Having girls in the field running up and down playing football something that is unheard and preserve for the boy child. The community was hostile to his idea.

Adan talked to   his community members on importance of giving the girl child opportunity to develop her talents and with time some listened.

“To earn trust of the parents, we had to visit homes teaching parents importance of developing girls sport talents and assuring them that their girls are safe with us,” said Mr Adan.

The team formed a welfare committee consisting of local women to support and advice the girls. The effort was fruitful and the school teacher became football manager of the girls.

“When I joined the team, friends laughed at me, saying that football is useless for girls,” said an 18-year-old Leila Jarso.

But through passion and determination, Leila persisted to do one thing she loves most-that is to play football.

“I started playing when I was in class 4, through primary I often represented my school in football tournament so when I heard about Isiolo Queens   FC, I joined the team immediately,” she said.

Leila is now in form four at Isiolo Barracks day secondary school and she is the team captain.

As the team captain Leila is in charge of training session. Leila leads her fellow girls in training sessions and in doing football drills.

Some wearing rubber shoes, some old black Bata school shoes while others are barefoot running across the field as they prepare for Safaricom chapa dimba competition whose finals will be held in Meru County in June this year.

Leila says that her dream is to play in National women league. “I wish one day to play elite football and make money. I want to be great footballer like Ronaldinho and make great in life”