Growing up and living in Kibera, Kenya, Abdul Kassim was well aware of the disproportionate number of challenges faced by women due to the extreme gender inequalities that persist in the slums. After being raised by his aunts, mother, and grandmother and having a daughter himself, he felt that he needed to make a difference.
In 2002, Abdul started a soccer team for girls called Girls Soccer in Kibera (GSK), with the hope of fostering a supportive community and providing emotional and mental support for the young women in the town. The soccer program was a success, but the looming dangers of slum life persisted, and the young women continued to fall victim to the worst kinds of human atrocities. Indeed, it was the unyielding injustice of these conditions that led Abdul to the conclusion that soccer alone was not enough to create the necessary systemic change.
In 2006, after much work, the Kibera Girls Soccer Academy (KGSA) was established with their first class of 11 girls and 2 volunteer teachers. Today, KGSA is composed of 20 full-time staff, provides a host of artistic and athletic programs for more than 130 students annually, and continues to expand. By providing academics inside and outside of the classroom along with artistic and athletic opportunities, KGSA inspires the young women of Kibera to become advocates for change within their own communities and for Kenya as a whole.
Play Like a Girl tells the KGSA story through Abdul’s voice and vision and the stories of key staff and students. It is written by Ellie Roscher who spent two summers doing research at KGSA and several years writing this book.
Praise for Play Like a Girl
A powerful and compelling story of how the vision and tenacity of a small group of people have changed the lives of girls living in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. Ellie Roscher captures the challenges facing girls in Kenya’s Kibera slum and the opportunity for each of us to make a difference in the world.
Sean RushPresident Emeritus, JA Worldwide
A real and very rare window to the world young impoverished girls live and struggle in every day. At the same time, it also shows the amazing commitment of a man invested in creating change and better opportunities for these girls. It will be an eye-opener for any reader and it leaves you with hope and belief that positive change is possible even in the hardest of circumstances.
Julie Weigaard KjaerCEO & Founder, Ruby Cup
The Kibera Girls Soccer Academy is more than just a soccer team, more than just a school – it’s a family – from the girls to the teachers, organizational leadership, and donors. Not only is this an inspiring account of how powerful sport and education can be in changing lives of the most vulnerable, but also a realistic and detailed insight into what it really takes to start and sustain a nonprofit.