I can’t believe it’s been years since I had this dream to see numerous girls Inspired to play football, Of course, I’ve always told my story of how I started playing at eight years old. I didn’t have the opportunity to any quality coaching or a chance of playing in any competitive match at an early age. I didn’t even know anyone to look up to who had succeeded In the footballing world in my country Uganda. well, I guess they were there but I didn’t know of any at the time. It’s not like nowadays where young girls have a lot of role models to look up to for example the USA where the Women’s National Soccer team players like Alex Morgan, Carly Lloyd are home stars. Many other countries have role models in the Women’s game name in Australia Sam Kerr who the young girls are madly in love with, England Steph Houghton, few African players like Janine Van Wyk from South Africa and Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala who has been consistent since breaking through and is a three-time African player of the year. These are stars well known around the world and their success is an inspiration to the young girls to show them that football is more than just a game and can change their lives.
A Subject extremely close to my heart, After having visited a lot of communities for a few years, I realised that there is a lot of desire for the game. These players are silent stars that no one had seen yet or even given the opportunity.
So I come up with the idea of a tournament for the girls to play for the first time and experience what the game is like. This has been the most rewarding experience not just for the players bpassions all who are involved. The Sseninde women’s development cup is the tournament we started to give a chance to the women to play football and express themselves. The feeling I had in my heart seeing the girls play in the First game of the tournament during the first edition I can’t explain it till today, I couldn’t believe that the dream had come to life.
The fact that a number of girls get opportunities from this tournament is rewarding for example, after the first Edition of the tournament, some girls got opportunities to education after being spotted by various institutions, schools and universities. Others were selected for the Uganda Woman Elite League. Our biggest testimony so far is Nalukenge Juliet who is currently playing on the Uganda Women’s National Football Team and participated in our first Edition of the tournament.
I look back now and I remember we had invited some dignitaries in the footballing community who never turned up for the first edition, they were probably thinking there’s no point taking time out to come and see young girls running with a ball. Everyone else was seeing random girls having a go at playing the game in a small setting but for me, I was seeing future stars in the making. Currently, we have hosted three Editions and the emotions I see in these girls is what keeps me wanting to do this year after year.
Doesn’t go without saying that this has been one of the biggest platforms for me to speak out to the girls through my actions and show them how football can change their lives. Is it not funny that I have failed to give a proper speech for three years in a row however much I have prepared? I have failed to express my words in a speech. Maybe this project means so much to me and I end up failing to communicate through words and a lot easier through my actions. I have seen teams who have come with players that had never even played a football game before but currently have developed so much. My aim is to see the number of girls playing football increasing and for them to know how special this game is.
we’ve seen girls who are stars participate In this tournament but no one had ever given them a chance to play, these are silent stars who are looking for opportunities, they have a passion for the for the Game but don’t know where to start. The tournament is not just about winning trophies alone. It’s about giving a chance to women with dreams but without opportunities and with that I mean the young referees, female photographers, volunteers and others around the game who want to be involved in one way or another.
It’s about empowering women to have a voice and to stand up for what’s right, to inspire others and to have the values of football in their heart. Not being able to officiate in a World Cup or to play in the top league of your country doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. We are the Silent Stars the world is yet to see. Living in today and fighting off all the challenges that are never-ending.
To the young girls who have participated in the tournament and those who haven’t got the opportunity yet to play but have endless passion, to the team of volunteers that have been with us from edition one up to now, you are my greatest stars of all time.