by Christine Laga
NAIROBIt

Shayne Gostisbehere Jersey Sale , Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- As sweltering heat engulfed the Kenyan capital, Nairobi on Sunday, an all girls football team provided a respite to bemused spectators who congregated at the open grounds where the entertaining match took place.

The male spectators were thrilled as teenage girls from a slum village located on the eastern edges of Nairobi dribbled the ball with gusto.

Football has for decades been a preserve for men in many African societies but the adolescent girls from Nairobi's KCC slum village have defied patriarchy to prove their prowess in the beautiful game.

The girls who spoke to Xinhua said that participating in a soccer match was not only therapeutic but offered an opportunity to mingle and learn from each other.

"Football has a profound way of connecting human beings regardless of their status in life. Most of us come from the slums but have made friends all over the country during matches," remarked Betty Wairimu, a 17-year-old form three student at a charity run secondary school

The all girls football team in KCC village is currently a household name thanks to an admirable track record since its inception several years ago.

An initiative of local charity groups, the football team has resonated with teenage girls from poor families determined to prove their mettle.

Wairimu joined the team after nudging from family and friends and has never regretted her dalliance with a sport that is wrongly associated with masochism.

"We grew up believing that girls cannot play football because they lacked the stamina and aggressiveness. Those myths are slowly fading away as girls and some older women embrace the game of football," Wairimu told Xinhua.

Her single mother is a member of a women's football team that has made waves in KCC slum village and beyond.

Football has transformed Wairimu's world views, improved her physical and mental wellness alongside emotional intelligence.

She disclosed that her academic performance improved after joining the football team and she is confident of joining the university to pursue a degree in law.

Wairimu's playmates were uplifted when spectators cheered them after scoring two goals against the rival team.

During an interview with Xinhua after the match was over, Wairimu's best friend and a midfielder, Bernice Mwikali spoke highly of football and its transformative power.

The 18-year-old form four student thanked mentors for encouraging her to take up sports as a means to improve physical and mental health.

"Since joining the football team one year ago, I feel motivated to work hard in and out of school. Even my mother is excited because am now shielded from toxic friends who are abundant in the slums," said Mwikali.

The all girls football team in Nairobi's KCC slum village has provided a launching pad for teenage girls from poor families determined to achieve their dreams.

Both Wairimu and Mwikali defied hostility from a conservative society to prove that girls can be almost at par with boys when it comes to sports and academics.

As the World marked International Day of the Girl Child on Sunday, the two slum girls became the embodiment of fortitude, ambition and persistence.

Despite progress achieved courtesy of affirmative action, the Kenyan girl child remains on the margins due to poverty, Illiteracy and harmful cultural practices.

Kenyan First Lady Margaret Kenyatta noted that teenage girls in many parts of the country have to contend with socio-cultural and economic obstacles despite advances in gender parity.

"Many of our girls are denied education and forced to marry early in life. Sexual violence and female genital cut violate the rights of women and girls and should be condemned," Kenyatta remarked.

She added that investing in literacy and health programs for the girl child will accelerate socio-economic progress in Kenya.

The Kenyan girl child is unwavering in her determination to prove her worth in a patriarchal society.

Socio-economic status notwithstanding, majority of Kenyan girls have excelled in sports, academics and performing arts thanks to courage and determination.

At Nairobi's KCC village open grounds, Frida Nafula defied the scorching heat to participate in a 400 meter race sponsored from well wishers from a local charity.

Nafula sprinted like a cheetah to win the coveted prize to the delight of adoring fans.

The 17-year-old form three student told Xinhua her desire to become a famous athlete has lingered since childhood.

"I know it requires stamina and sheer determination to break a record in any race but I hope to do so when I complete my studies next year," said Nafula.

The second born in a family of five is convinced that athletics will secure her ticket to a better life in future.

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