A kick of empowerment, confidence

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‘Goal for Girls’ attempts to use football to engineer women empowerment

Cindy Parlow
Cindy Parlow

“I have struggled with self-confidence and my physical stature. I was always a little smaller than many of the girls. When I step into a new, uncomfortable situation, I do not react well to it at all. That was a big reason why I wanted to come here,” says Danielle Foxhoven, a footballer with the Seattle Reign FC in the United States. She is in the Capital to promote women empowerment through the game.

“I know, for girls especially, self-confidence is a huge issue since they haven’t been told that they can be positive people. I’ve made it through that and I want to empower other girls.”

The 24-year-old footballer is not expected to function as an activist for social change. But Danielle Foxhoven has much larger goals than mere excellence on the football pitch.

As part of the ‘Goal for Girls’ project, footballers like her are brought together to engineer women empowerment. The 20-member group participated in a five-team exhibition tournament at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Friday.

The American organisation was accompanied by YUWA of the Gasteiz Cup fame that saw a girls’ team from Jharkhand finish third in Spain last year. City-based NGO Cequin was also a part of this initiative led by Anglian Football.

Moreover, the event witnessed the presence of two-time Olympic gold medallist and World Cup winner Cindy Parlow. Despite an illustrious career, the now-retired 35-year-old American chose coaching at youth level over a professional team. Not to forget that Cindy led Danielle’s former team Portland Thorns to the National Women’s Soccer League title in 2013.

“I started working with this project in 2007. Sports can help a girl to lead a healthy lifestyle and learn essential life skills. I look to build a girl’s self-confidence and discipline. You learn to work towards a goal with people you may not necessarily like.”

Danielle shares many of Cindy’s objectives, but has a few other, personal, goals attached to this project.

“I have always felt the need to see the world. So, selfishly, this was an opportunity to travel. And I feel the obligation to pass my experience to others. I feel that I’m being like my grandparents as they gave me an opportunity to play. I can’t thank them enough.”

At the end of her two-week stint here, Danielle revealed that she holds affection for not just football. “I have fallen in love with India.”

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