For the Love of Soccer

The KGSA story was about soccer before it was about school. It makes sense to me that a successful girls’ soccer team became a successful girls’ school. Female athletes know all about work ethic and focus. They understand that they are stronger together, striving to overcome adversity as a unit. The school felt like a family because they were first a team.

I loved talking to the girls in Kibera about soccer. Their faces would light up, they sat up straighter and told animated stories with gregarious hand gestures like they were reliving the memory in their bodies. Soccer helped these girls feel strong, empowered, and powerful, agents of their own bodies. Keeping up with the boys on the field helped them see that they wanted to keep up with the boys in the classroom, too.

There is a reason that the world is in love with soccer. Soccer is magic, and all you need is a plot of dirt and a ball of trash to take part. In this short passage from Play Like a Girl, you meet Rose, an amazing woman and critical athlete whose love of soccer lives in her bones:

Photo by Jake Naughton

Rose first saw women playing soccer on television in the World Cup. She thought, “I’m a woman. Can’t I be like them? Can’t I try?” Boys played soccer at her school, and she wanted to play too. She walked up to the boys one day at school and said, “Women are playing on television. We can do it.”

They wouldn’t let her play. So she took used paper and fashioned a ball and started playing alone. She stayed after school every day and played as long as she could. Eventually, the boys let her play, and they went to the schoolyard to play during holidays together. Each kid pitched in five shillings, six American cents, to buy a ball.

Photo by Jake Naughton

But when Rose came home from playing, her father beat her. He believed soccer was for boys and wanted Rose to focus on her school- work. He beat her daily, but she refused to stop playing.

“I asked God to give me strength because I knew soccer was my talent. I was not good in books, but I forced myself to go to school so I could learn how to write and read. I studied because I knew it was good, but I played soccer because I loved it.”

For more great soccer stories, pre-order Play Like a Girl today!