Community + Beneficiaries (total Yuwa programs)
Target population: Underprivileged youth, specifically girls between 5-17 years old. Yuwa players’ average and median age is 12.
Direct reach: Yearly: 2,000 - Monthly: 300 - Weekly: 150
Indirect reach: Yearly: 12,000 - Monthly: 1,800 - Weekly: 900
When you educate a girl, everything changes
Education of girls is "the single highest returning social investment in the world today."
If you want to make a real difference for girls, there’s no better place to start than Jharkhand—if you can do it here, you can do it anywhere.
When a girl is born in Jharkhand, her life has usually already been planned out for her. She is isolated— if she is not seen working, she is harassed. She is illiterate—more than six in ten women here can’t read. She is married off—Jharkhand leads Indian states in child marriages. She remains vulnerable— an estimated 30,000 girls from Jharkhand are trafficked every year. She gets pregnant. The cycle continues.
In its single-page entry on Jharkhand, Lonely Planet describes the state as follows:
For a girl in Jharkhand, even home can be a dangerous place. Yuwa brings girls out of isolation and into a positive team environment. Daily practice and a team platform give us access to large numbers of at- risk girls, and a girl with confidence can rewrite the script others have prepared for her.
Team sport serves as a powerful platform to promote health, education and improved livelihoods among the hardest to reach, most at-risk group in the community, the group that has the least opportunity but is the most important agent for change—young women.
Football for girls is an incredibly effective model for grassroots organization.
In India's top source state for human trafficking, teamwork is also a powerful force to combat the three primary causes of a young woman's vulnerability: few opportunities, gender inequality, and lack of confidence. In Yuwa, a girl gains confidence to challenge the social script of gender inequality, and is introduced to opportunities she might not have dared consider for herself.
The idea is to develop an atmosphere in villages which creates a sense of belonging, that builds a girl up, and that makes parents aware of a girl’s rights and value.
In an article highlighting Yuwa in its national edition, the Hindustan Times reported (6 Dec 2009):
A girl in Yuwa loves football, but it’s about much more than sport. Playing on a team from an early age introduces her to the idea of collective effort.
When a girl organizes or joins a Yuwa team, through positive peer pressure she becomes a more regular student—players elect team captains, who keep track of school attendance, and many girls attend daily study sessions at Yuwa Club. She pays attention to her own health and to the health of her teammates, and gets access to information about her body through weekly adolescent health classes with her teammates. She marries when she chooses—on Yuwa's first team, not a single girl has gotten married below the age of 18, even though several of their older sisters had been married off at age 15. She will raise a healthy family. The cycle continues.
Yuwa’s distinctive approach
Too often ‘local participation’ just means getting out of the way of the Land Rover (or in India, the Bolero). Yuwa’s approach is fundamentally different. Our talent is homegrown – from coaches to executive director, everyone on our India team lives in the villages where we work.
Absolute ownership by girls.
From the very beginning, players are put in charge of their own program. They find their own fields, buy their own footballs and set their own practice schedules. But ‘sweat equity’ and time are not enough—they contribute financially as well. When a player achieves 4 months’ attendance of 20 days or more per month, she becomes eligible for football boots. However, she still contributes a third of the price. For a girl whose parents have never given her more than a few rupees at a time, this demands both creativity and drive. But practice is the best part of her day. It’s where her friends cheer her, where her coaches encourage her, and where she’s part of a team. So she finds a way.
This gives girls tremendous equity in Yuwa. Yuwa is her program, not our program.
Damn good football.
In Yuwa, there are no laps, no lines, no lectures. Coaches have three rules:
Ideally, a football practice has a small number of players, a professional coach, lots of space and plenty of footballs. In Yuwa, reality dictates the opposite—large numbers of players, a community coach, very little space and few footballs.
Yet Yuwa’s players also enjoy rare opportunities which are often missing in practices in the best football countries. First, more coaching is not always better coaching—unlike many sports, football is not about rote learning. Yuwa’s coaches pose challenges in the form of games, and structure practices in ways that require decisions to be made by the players themselves. The coach is the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage.
Second, is the power of peer-to-peer. Although having a large number of players of different ages and abilities on the field at once means less space, it also makes for one of the strongest components of Yuwa’s practices—peer-to-peer coaching. Twenty girls from Yuwa's first team are now leading practices for the six new teams. Two girls are even coaching a young boys’ team.
Twelve-year-old Pushpa Toppo travels with her coaches by motorcycle twice a week to help coach new players in a village thirty minutes ride away. She and her fellow community sports leaders will lead Yuwa's programs in the future.
High-quality, fun football and a unique coaching system are delivering three key results:
Yuwa has experimented with both micro-lending and micro-enterprise. Read about how fourteen-year-old Meena Kumari, whose father was killed two years ago, is helping to support her family and has enrolled herself in a private school, even as she has been attending football practice an average of 24 days in a month (288 days in the last 12 months).
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Yuwa, Inc. is a 501c3 California Non-Profit Corporation