Play it Dream it Conference
The Play it Dream it Conference in conjunction with FARE Net and GSMP was organized to celebrate International Day of the Girl-child and #FootballPeople weeks. The conference was themed, “Let Girls Play”, a convergence of young girls aiming to venture into sports as a full time career with focus on refugee girls in Internally Displaced Camp (IDP) Durumi, Abuja. The conference was organized to provide a platform for girls to learn about how to kick-start, sustain and succeed in sports participation and management from coaches, sports administrators, current and ex athletes, male and female alike.
The Conference started by 11am with the recitation of the second stanza of the national anthem. Ms. Aderonke Ogunleye-Bello, the Executive Director gave an opening remark stated how she was grateful to God and thankful to FARE Network for the opportunity to educate young girls in sports and participate in the #FootballPeople weeks.
Oluwatoni Fawole, programme analyst at FAME, introduced the moderator for the panels. The first panel session titled, “Do’s and Don’ts of Domestic Football In Nigeria” was moderated by Samuel Ahmadu, a renowned reporter at Goal.com. He introduced the first speaker, Mrs Maureen Mmadu.
Mrs Maureen Mmadu, is the former Nigerian football coach and midfielder. She encouraged and advised the girls to always work on themselves, keep their dreams alive and not let anything or anyone kill their dreams.
Moving on to the next speaker, Ms. Iloduba Sarah; a football player with Osun Babes FC. She explained the dos and don’ts of being a female player and also advised the girls to avoid distractions at this moments of their lives. She added that they should always look for ways to improve their skills through constant training.
Our Guest Speaker, Ms. Ruth David, Head of International Competitions, NFF and Member of the National Association of Women in Sports(NAWIS), delivered a speech on,”how to kick-start a football career in a male dominated field”. She highlighted three points for a successful career; education, positive attitude and entrepreneurship which should be a backup plan for footballer. According to her,”an educated player is a better player and having a positive attitude is key to building a success career”.
The second panel which was moderated by Uche Nwudoh,was titled, “Football as a tool for girls empowerment”. The first speaker was David Doherty, CEO Team Nigeria UK and International. He started by appreciating FAME for a job well done and stated that if we can empower girls, we will have a massive improve in female sports participation. He stated practical ways on how to empower girls in sports, which includes; creating platforms that combine football and education, putting girls through mentoring programmes, formation of local football teams and involving girls in volunteering with football teams, sourcing for funds, sponsorship and partnership with relevant stakeholders, both private and government.
Ms. Tara Aladebgamigbe, Director and Head of Talent Identification at Team Nigeria UK and International, spoke on how football can be used as a tool for girl empowerment. She stated that football has being used to address various issues such as gender inequality, drug abuse, discrimination, racism, violence, etc. She emphasized on having a backup plan along side having/building a football career. She ended by advising the girls to pay great attention to their health, feeding habits and exercise because it shows in your performance. She advised the girls to volunteer to local teams so that they can develop their skills.
After this, Ayishatu Zakaria Ali, a sports journalist with Global Media Alliance in Ghana, began by stating that there is nothing wrong in women participating and succeeding in football/sports all over the world. She further emphasized on the need for education so that others do not take advantage of you. She admonished the girls to dream big and not limit themselves. She stated that girls can also become sports administrators, journalists, coaches, FIFA agent, etc. all they have to do is to believe in themselves, have a great passion and work on their dreams.
The last speaker, Trina Bolton, Program Officer at the US Dept. of States, Diplomacy Division of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. She stated that female should have equal rights as the male gender in all aspect of life including in sports. According to her football has being a tool used in closing the gender gap and a unique way of getting girls out on the field of life. She advised the girls to have sport role model. Sports can have a mental draining effect, so she advised that they keep their fitness level high and have a support system.
The Conference ended with Oluwatoni giving the closing remarks and thanking all speakers and attendees for making the virtual conference a success. The event ended with a friendly football matched between three teams formed by the refugee girls.
A total of 127 participants including the refugee girls were present at the IDP Camp and 139 online participants, totaling 266 participants.