For some, sport is more than just a beautiful game. Back in March we reported on the launch of the CBF (Craig Bellamy Foundation) Girls Football League in Sierra Leone as it took to pitches throughout the country for its second year. This league is important not just to encourage girls to get out and get exercise, but because the Craig Bellamy Foundation has one simple rule – to play football, you have to go to school.
Today see’s the national final of the league, with Jam Jam FC taking on the mighty Malimba Queens in a rerun of last year’s epic final that, after a 2-2 draw at full time, saw JamJams eventually win 3-1 on penalties. With the Malimba Queens out for revenge and Jam Jam FC not planning on giving up their top spot easily, today’s clash is shaping up to be an exciting one.
One Jam Jam who will be out to defend their title is Mamie Kamara, Jam Jam FC’s star striker. Playing for the team since the CBF league began in 2012, Mamie, now 14, has not only benefitted from the exercise football has given her, but also from the unique model that comes with the CBF youth development league to improve education, health, youth exclusion and gender inequality.
Before she started playing Mamie’s attendance at school was pretty sporadic, partly as her parents couldn’t always afford to send her, however through taking part in the league the CBF now pays for her education. Her parents now also encourage her to play football and attend practice instead of heading home after school to do her chores.
As part of the youth development league girls are prevented from missing school by earning extra league points for teams that all attend school regularly. If all your teammates are in class together then your team stands a chance of creeping up the league table. It not only keeps girls in school but also helps to build team morale, unity, friendships and a support network. The drive to succeed and not let her team down has definitely helped in encouraging Mamie to go to school.
“The CBF league brings us together; it builds friendships and provides us with an incentive to stay in school.”