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She got game

Ever since we met Khadiza three years ago, she’s loved to goof around and play. But, with traditional gender roles that placed girls at the centre of household chores and domestic roles, she didn’t always have the chance.

“I help my mother in cooking and domestic work and play local games with my sister and friends after,” she told us at age 11.

Over the years, thanks to your support of Community Sponsorship activities, Hatibandha has become more receptive to girls’ participation – both in school and in sport – helping Khadiza (now 13) thrive.

Khadiza smiles at age 10 and plays outside with boys and girls at age 11.

Khadiza plays in 2014 (at left), and in the cricket match last summer (at right).

We saw this advancement with Khadiza’s participation in the community’s very first girls’ cricket team and now, we see that precedent maintained with Hatibandha’s first-ever girls’ soccer tournament!

“This is the first time we organized such a special and interesting game between the girls of schools. I hope it will continue in the future!” says Moniruzzaman, Head Teacher of a local high school.

The tournament drew a huge crowd, with over 500 enthusiastic spectators. And as girls like Khadiza stepped foot on the field, huge smiles could be seen all around.

Two teams walk on the field, smiling.

“I am very delighted being a player of this school football team,” Khadiza says with excitement and determination. “I never imagined that I could play football in front of my school teachers as well as elders. Today we reached another step forward being girls of this community.”

In addition to communicating the importance of girls’ participation in sports activities and showcasing their athletic ability, the event was also used as a platform for local girls’ to promote the importance of hygiene and sanitation.

A girl speaks into a microphone, in front of a sign that reads “Inter-school sports competition for disseminating hygiene messages.”

A young female player makes an important announcement to attendees.

Prizes were distributed to the players, among a roar of applause and cheers of support.

“Due to Plan activities I am getting the opportunity to participate,” shares Khadiza. “I felt proud when I received prizes from my school head teacher. I would like to thank community sponsors for giving us the opportunity to be a part of it.”

Players with the wining trophy

And though seriously fun, activities like this also have serious impact.

“Before, I saw a difference between girls and boys in my community. Now the situation has been improving to get equal opportunity for girls and boys. They can play and go to school together,” reflects Khadiza, who has also seen a change in her own performance on the field and in the classroom.

“I really enjoyed the girls’ football competition. I like the idea of girls’ participation in sports and education! I’ve had good results, have grown up and can play well,” she adds, confidently.

Breaking new turf in local sport has also laid the groundwork for younger children, like Khadiza’s younger sister, Eti, 9.

Khadiza and Eti share a laugh.

No kidding, play is bringing BIG change for these sisters (along with big laughs)!

Two years ago, Eti told us that she’d like more opportunities to follow in her sisters footsteps.

“I would like to have lots of toys so that me and my friends can all play together.”

Since then, you’ve distributed toys, board games and sporting equipment across the community, encouraging children to get involved in physical activity, become more social and regularly attend school.

Double panel: a smiling Eti next to a teacher being handed a soccer ball by Plan staff.

A portrait of Eti, 9 (at left), and a teacher receiving sports equipment for her class (at right).

“I have participated in sports competitions and now enjoy my school because we got materials like skipping ropes, a cricket set, footballs and so on – I love playing with those!” Eti says with a laugh.

More than just a means of fun, Eti has seen the power of play, firsthand.

“Now children can play, they go to school regularly,” she says. And – like her big sister – she’s also seen a change within herself: “Now I do not feel shy in front of other people; rather I can talk to them without hesitation.”

Best of all, these efforts have been game-changers by shattering stereotypes that stood for too long – just ask Khadiza’s dad, Asim, father of three girls.

 

“I have been observing changes among my children. Plan International teaches us that we should create equal opportunity for girls and boys … I have changed and now I take girls’ participation in sports positively.” – Khadiza and Eti’s father, Asim

 

Today, shifts in mindsets are emerging all across the plains of Hatibandha, establishing new standards of equality in sports and beyond and bringing better days for Khadiza, Eti and all girls and boys.

Three panels of the three siblings laughing and hugging.

Khadiza and Eti have fun playing with their baby brother.

A big win

Thank you for helping Hatibandha’s girls gain more yards to score their goals. Because of you, they’re securing better education, developing new leadership skills and acquiring more opportunities. We think that certainly deserves a trophy – don’t you?

Girls hoist up a soccer championship trophy!

Three cheers for championing change!

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