Seek the five differences....
At first sight, people understand that we, and with "we" I mean Moving the Goalposts (MTG), are using football as a tool. But when the discussion continues we all become enthusiastic and the focus shifts to those football players who are talented, get scholarships, are selected for trips abroad. But... for us as a football for development organisation, the other girls are as important as our star players. Those girls who are not very good football players, the girls who joined MTG in 2008 and have never made it to the MTG United team, but instead became first aiders. And perhaps they are not even talented first aiders, but they might be very caring or committed or ready to serve their communities. For MTG, those active MTG leaders deserve the same opportunities and praise as the talented football players. The talented football players are the girls we see, but the committed first aider might benefit equally from MTG's programme and bring an equally big change in their community. They make us both feel proud. That makes MTG different from football clubs.
At first sight, people understand that most of our players are school going girls and that most of "our" football fields are primary school football fields. But .... it is hard to understand that we don't work in schools. "MTG league fields" are MTG's communities, groups of about 100/150 girls who mobilize their peers, who lead their peers as health educators, field leaders, coaches or referees. No adult is in charge of anything. It is the girls, supported by young female MTG staff members, all former participants of the programme, who manage their own activities. The girls can develop their leadership skills and they involve their parents. Because, if you want to empower girls, you also need to empower their parents and make the same information that girls get available for all community members. Of course we work with schools. Head teachers and teachers play the roles of enablers, they are not leaders in MTG. MTG doesn't work in school to score numbers of beneficiaries, MTG takes the difficult road. MTG girls are reached out to through their communities so that we can also include girls who are not in school and involve parents and other communities in the care for girls in the community. That makes MTG different from most sport for development organizations.
At first sight, people understand that we are working with girls. But .....if we talk longer, it is more difficult to understand for people. Ultimately the question comes "why not boys". In the meantime it is MTG that is still asking other organisations why they are not working with girls. And that question is usually asked less (not by MTG, but by others), than the question that is addressed to MTG. Although MTG has been a pioneer since 2002 and is internationally recognized, it is still one of the few football for development organizations that works particularly with girls. That makes MTG different from most football for development organizations.
At first sight, people understand that MTG encourages girls to take up leadership roles. But..... if we start talking about leadership it becomes clear that when we talk about "youth leadership" in MTG, we're talking about girls between the ages of 12 - 25 year where others are talking about 20 - 35 year old. In MTG it means that 12 year old girls can be coaches, referees and peer educators. When we are in meetings we don't stress participation of children, because that is the norm in MTG. We don't talk about youth participation, we are girls' participation. When we participate in discussions around safeguarding of children it is clear that most coaches from other organisations who work with girls' teams are adults, usually men, while in MTG the coaches are peers, girls. That is what makes MTG different from most youth organizations.
At first sight, people can see how MTG mobilizes girls for football leagues. But....not many people understand that those girls live in rural areas. Girls live in villages near Mombasa - Malindi highway, others along the main sand roads in the county. However, most girls live in villages that are reached by matatus that plight the route only once per day or in communities that can't be reached by public transport at all. The logistical problems that MTG has, can't be compared with our counterparts in cities or even slums. Staff members have to travel long distances and spend a lot of money on transport, we have systems with monthly decentralized meetings for trainings, exchanges and data collection. The distances are huge: from Mariakani along the Mombasa - Nairobi highway to Mirihini bordering Tsavo National park and Ndugumani and Matsangoni on route to Malindi. And then we're not talking about MTG's most recent expansion into Kwale, the other side of Mombasa. MTG covers rural areas that others don't cover and are less populated. That is what makes MTG different from organizations in urban areas.