An interview on ‘How a single football can change lives?’

“Do you think football is just for boys?”

“No. I believe football is for boys and girls. Actually, it’s for everyone. I even saw national football players who are female. So. I believe everyone can play football.”

“I get asked sometimes by adults that ‘You are a girl. Why are you playing football?’ They also asked me ‘Why don’t you play basketball or chair ball instead?’ I told them that boys can play football so, girls can too.”

Haroon community is a multicultural Muslim community of Thais and Africans situated nearby a church and a temple in the historical site and the art scene of Bangkok. Right To Play Thailand has been using sports and play-based learning sessions in the area to boost confidence and foster essential life skills such as resilience, self-awareness and compassion for urban girls and boys in the community for a year. We interviewed Nabhiha, Najwa, Tusneem and Naila, 4 girls, who have been practicing football with us weekly on how they view football and what changes it brought them.

“How does it feel when you first played football?”
“I was scared.” “I love it.” “I didn’t like it.” Their opinions differed but one thing they all agreed on is that football is more than just for fun as the girls have been on a mini tournament and local residents also cheered for them. The sport brought them self-confidence.

They recalled how their religion teacher and an active resident in the community, Arif, reassured them when they first started out by saying “Don’t be afraid of playing football. The ball is not a bullet. It will not hurt you and we will help shield you from getting hit by the ball. So, don’t be afraid to play.”

“Of all sports in the world, If I could pick anything, I would still choose football.”

“What did you learn from playing football?”

“Before playing football together, boys teased us a lot and we fought a lot but now we are friends. Football makes us become friends, for example, when I asked them to pass the ball, they passed the ball to us and let us play with them.”

“Football teaches us teamwork, keeps us healthy and fosters friendships. At first, I wasn’t close to my female friends in the community but now I have more friends and I also feel closer to them because we play football together.”

Bung Kob, one of the community leaders said that “There was hardly any activity for girls before. After Right To Play sets up activities here, some parents encourage their girls to come out from their homes to play because there are benefits from playing sports.. I believe it’s good for the children.”