“When we left, we couldn’t believe we could reach this level and we’re so glad we got this far in the tournament”, says Asteria Robert, the 14-year-old captain of the Tanzanian girls’ football team, leading her team to the podium to collect their medals at the Street Child World Cup at the Sapsan Arena in Moscow.

Organised by Street Child United, the Street Child World Cup is a football tournament for children all over the world who have experienced homelessness or are considered at risk of living on the streets. This would be the third cup, after the tournaments in 2010 and 2014. On the 11th of May, more than 200 children from 24 countries, including Asteria Robert and her team attended the event in Sapsan Arena in Moscow. According to UN estimates, there are nearly 150 million street children around the world. 

Before the games, the girls had expressed a desire to win, particularly because they wanted to prove something to the people who thought little of them. Paulina Christopher, one of the team members said, “In Tanzania, many people think girls and women cannot achieve the same as boys and men, and also people will see we can achieve anything and that we are just as capable as boys, just as capable of success. So, we want to bring respect to the country, it will be women who bring respect to the country”.

“We can do everything on the same level as boys. If girls are not allowed to participate in sports, it’s not right, we are human beings, and we are supposed to be happy and do anything the makes us happy. we need to access all our rights”, she added

Joe Hewitt, the head of Street Child United’s American unit said that the initiative gives the children a platform and helps with their path back to society. The children are given voices on and off the pitch that allow them to campaign for their rights and the rights of those living on the streets worldwide. The country, so the kids are given a chance at active advocacy that will spark social engagement and discussion, but the chances of these leading to active social and judiciary changes in the countries are uncertain.

Though Tanzanian girls were defeated 1-0 by a team from Rio de Janeiro at the stadium, the girls are not disappointed, Asteria and her team enjoyed the opportunity to meet and share culture stories with girls from various countries. “This has been a great opportunity because apart from the football we have been able to build relationships with children from other countries, exchange ideas and share culture”.

“We value ourselves, we know who are and we know our worth, this which enables us to do anything we set our minds to. We have a good relationship with each other both on and off the pitch”, said another team member said, Zulfa John when asked what drives her and her teammates.

Tomiwa Isiaka
Tomiwa Isiaka is in her head a lot, so she writes, because that's what you do when you're in your head a lot.. She likes the sun, and that's what all this is about, environmental sustainability to keep the sun alive