Busia Women Representative Catherine Omanyo has launched a football tournament for girls that will culminate in a 16-day campaign against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the county.
The first-ever women’s tournament in the county seeks to bolster girl-child engagement through sporting activities as a tool for advocacy and empowerment of all genders through sports.
Speaking during the launch at Nambale, Omanyo acknowledged efforts by a few schools to introduce sports for girls, though those activities become minimal after school.
“According to data from the Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) in 2009, nearly 40% of Kenyan women have experienced violence starting at age 15 and 25% within the last 12 months. Western Kenya has the highest rate of violence against women, with 45% of women having experienced violence from 15 years old,” noted Omanyo.
The tournament attracted 32 teams across the county on Saturday and was played concurrently in all 7 constituencies, where the best teams in each sub-county will secure an opportunity into the county finals to be played on December 3rd at Malaba Stadium.
All the teams received uniforms and training kits from the local National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) office to fast-track their training and match-day activities.
During the tournament, Soccer Sisters were crowned Funyula Constituency Champions after edging out Hakati Queens 5-4 in penalties after a 1-1 draw.
Hakati, who were unbeaten throughout the tournament, were shocked by the Soccer Sisters’ resilience and fighting spirit, pushing them to a draw which saw them lose on penalties.
The Soccer Sisters thrashed Bukiri FC 4-0 in quarters before edging out Odiado Queens 1-0 in semis to book a slot in the final.
In Teso North constituency, Kamurai FC emerged as sub-county champions, thrashing Aboloi FC 3-0 in the finals played at Malaba Stadium.
The war between Kamuriai and Butula Starlet will be reignited when the two teams lock horns after Butula Starlets also secured a chance for the county finals.
Butula Starlets narrowly edged Simuli Queens on penalties after an entertaining 2-2 draw played at the Butula Polytechnic.
The tournament, according to Omanyo, aims at creating a team, dubbed Busia Queen, that will represent the county in the FKF women’s league next year.
“For many years, when we talked of football, it was all about men’s teams. We are shifting the paradigm to give an equal opportunity to ladies to showcase their talents and abilities,” said the women representative.
Participation in sport is a powerful tool for addressing gender inequality, and by engaging boys and girls together through football, the programme aims to contain harmful social attitudes and empower young people to speak out within their communities.
“The integration of a bespoke curriculum on violence against women and girls into regular football sessions for girls and boys between the ages of 10 and 20 will enable local coaches to work with young people to explore attitudes towards gender and develop skills around teamwork, fair play, self-confidence, and respect,” she added.
According to Funyula Gender Police Officer Mang’eni Moses, the potential to challenge gender stereotypes is by having girls play football visibly in the community.
“By coaching both boys and girls, it will show people that even girls can do it just like boys, especially in football, which is considered a man’s game. Also, having male coaches talk about these issues will influence other men, and ultimately, victims and survivors of GBV will learn their rights and avenues for redress,” said Mang’eni.
Meanwhile, on the 3rd of next month, all roads will head to Malaba Stadium for a thrilling final that will see eight teams showcase their talents for recruitment as well as the formation of all county teams.
By Absalom Namwalo