Portia Mafokwane

Manager of the team GIRLZ KICKIN’ HIV and head of the Ahitlangeni Community Development Project, volunteer coach of several teams, e.g. at Dimakatso Elementary School.

“Never give up on your dreams!”

Like many other girls from Sosghanguve [township near Pretoria], Portia started playing football amongst boys, which was tolerated until she reached puberty. The older she got, the more she faced social refusal as well as homophobic and sexist discrimination. Nevertheless, Portia kept on playing and took on the responsibility for other football playing girls by becoming an acting coach at her school. At the age of 22, she decided to make a change and to become a coach even outside the schoolyard.

For her, football is a way to help young women to make their way in a male-dominated society and to create a healthy and save environment for at-risk youth. Portia now supports many young players to address gender-based violence and overcome social barriers by creating a team-based sense of community. Despite the lack of money that prevents her team from playing in the official women’s league, Portia keeps planning the establishment of a girl’s football academy.

“Through football as a fun game and as a safe space we are able to arouse the vitality and courage of young adolescent women experiencing an extreme situation of life.”

-----------------------------

City: Pretoria, South Africa
Founded in: 2002
Members: 20
Greatest success: Convincing people from the community that football is for everyone who have passion for it.

-----------------------------

Girlz Kickin’ HIV!

“Definitely the best!”

The project not only offers plenty of sports activities and fun to underprivileged female youth, but it also provides the opportunity to openly talk about difficult social and health-related topics.

GIRLZ KICKIN HIV brings together girls and young women from disadvantaged neighborhoods affected by crime, unemployment, teenage pregnancy and HIV/AIDS. While prevention programs in schools and public institutions often have low influence on the youth, GIRLZ KICKIN’ HIV uses football as a tool to exert an educational impact on the young women’s lives.

The team combines football and other sporting fun activities with messages about HIV/AIDS, discrimination, abuse and other problems that affect young women from the townships. The practices consist of small games that playfully teach the sources and prevention techniques of  HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, the project creates a safe and team-based environment in which feelings, beliefs and ideas about HIV/AIDS,  homosexuality, sexism and discrimination in all social fields can be openly shared.

“Using football and the solidarity within your team can be a way of addressing social problems and raising awareness among team members and their families!”

“With our project we give the girls a stage to talk openly about things that they cannot discuss with their parents at home.”