On Saturday, the US Embassy and the EFA did it for her. This was after the two organisations successful implemented the USA EFA Sports Envoy Programme at the EFA’s Technical Centre in Lobamba where the Eswatini Girl Child was empowered through football. It was a perfect platform for the Girl Child to express herself.
As part of this programme, the USA Embassy invited former USA National player and 8-time sports envoy, Zola Solamante and current USA national player and 1st time sports envoy, Will John to Eswatini. These sports envoys used football as a gateway to reach young people with positive messages about social cohesion and personal empowerment. “The focus was the Girl Child, empowering her to use football as a tool to boost her confidence, physical fitness, and mental health”, said the US Embassy’s Chargè d’ Affaires, Earl Miller. The Chargè d’ Affaires is confident that the EFA through this programme will be able to build and expand on what they have already started in as far as the development of women’s football is concerned. “EFA has been a tour de force behind the empowerment of women’s football in Eswatini. Through this programme, the EFA will be able to build and expand upon what they have already started”, Miller said. He also encouraged the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to support the idea of more programmes and stronger pipelines for young women to access football at an earlier age, much like the boys already have.
Speaking on behalf of the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini was the Honourable Minister of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs Harris Bulunga who acknowledged the US Embassy for the investment towards the execution of this programme as it immensely benefited the Girl Child. “As government, we acknowledge the US Embassy for this investment as developed the Eswatini Girl Child through football. The participants’ confidence, physical, and mental health have been boosted”, Bulunga said. As this programme encourages mass participation and most importantly women, this is in line with the African Union’s and Government’s policies which encourages mass participation of women in the activities within the economies,” Bulunga said. He also encouraged the EFA not to loss the girls who participated in this programme and ensure that this relationship with the US Embassy is maintained and extended to other areas of football development.
According to the EFA, this programme came at the right time as women football development is one of the important components in the football industry. “The development of football and most importantly women’s football at grassroots level is one of the significant components in as far as the football industry is concerned”, said Ms Cindy Dludlu who is an EFA’s Executive Committee Member and Chairperson of the Women’s Football Committee. On the marketing aspect, the EFA highlighted that this programme has created football awareness more especially to the Girl Child. The programme has created football awareness to the Girl Child as it is implemented on a mass participation format,” Dludlu said.
A total of 150girls participated in this programme which also complemented other football development programme like refereeing, talent development scheme, and grassroots football development programme to mention but a few.