Being inspired by Sabina
Blog by Cocky van Dam
Cocky van Dam is Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator in Moving the Goalposts
This story is about my colleague Sabina, but it could have been about most of my other colleagues in Moving the Goalposts. I happened to be "on the road" with Sabina, but it could also have been with Harriet or Shully. I got inspired by Sabina, but could also have been inspired by Esther. I talked with Sabina about our work, MTG girls and football, but I could have had a similar discussion with Annet or Fridah, amazing young women with the most difficult job in Moving the Goalposts: divisional coordinator.
Sabina is one the divisional coordinators, MTG's representatives in an area covering about 8 MTG football communities. The divisional coordinators in Moving the Goalposts are former beneficiaries, former volunteers, young women in the age of 20 - 27 years. They are the link between MTG and the girls and their communities. They talk to girls about new ideas that staff members have and talk to the management about the ideas that girls have. They are the women on the ground. They make sure that activities are implemented. They talk to head teachers, government officials, parents, service providers and most of all "the girls"! On Tuesdays they come back to the office with stories that make other staff members realize the impact MTG is making on the ground. The divisional coordinators are employed "fresh" from secondary school with limited preparation on being employed and no experience as employees. They love playing football, they know how MTG works, they know what MTG stands for, they know MTG's procedures, values and they know what works and doesn't work when working with girls and young women in rural Kilifi.
I joined Sabina during one of our capacity building days in her division when 60 Trainers of Trainers facilitated sessions spread across 6 divisions to 280 field representatives from 48 league fields reaching out to more than 5000 girls. Sabina is the woman that the MTG girls in Kwale are looking up to. With her 24 years, she knows all of them by name and she knows the ins and outs of their fields. The girls feel welcome and appreciated. During the start of the day's programme when all leaders participate in a joint leadership session, she is enthusiastic and clear in her instructions. She makes jokes with the older girls, laughs with and encourages the young girls. The participants enjoy the session and this spirit of action, working and learning together is carried on during the other sessions.
Throughout the day, she talks to girls, stimulates, explains, asks questions and helps girls to find solutions for issues in their field. I'm quite sure I couldn't have done this when I was her age: working in a community that is not your own, working with girls who are socialized into not believing in themselves, facing opposition of people who are not ready to see young women being empowered, to continue mobilizing girls for football practises when parents prefer their daughters to assist them in their farms, to listen to people who blame your organisation for "making girls pregnant". The divisional coordinators work four days per week in the community and the fifth day in the office to have meetings and administrative tasks. During that day, staff members like me ask them questions, want to make plans with them, ask their advice and give them theirs....
Young women like Sabina can only carry on with their work, because they believe in what they are doing and because they are ready to learn. They have been where the other MTG participants are now, but they have made a step. And they know that other girls can make the same step.
I believe that our divisional coordinators can only do what they are doing, because they have a passion for working with girls in their community, for creating change, for taking up challenges, but most of all, they have a passion for football. When I watched Sabina playing football with the girls in Kwale, I could see that it made her happy. Being with the girls, having fun, working together, while playing finding a way to achieve your goal (quite literally: making a goal!), encouraging each other, console one another when you don't succeed and ask for support when you need it. That is what makes sport such a fantastic tool in hands of capable young women, like Sabina.
You can watch two digital stories that Sabina has made on the MTG You Tube channel. The combined stories give a good example of the transition that our colleagues make in MTG from being football players to community development professionals.