The 11th of October 2020, was the International Day of the Girl Child; the theme: “My voice, Our equal future.” The non-governmental organization that imparts leadership skills through sports to women and girls organized an online session that featured some of its alumni members and other people that have been influential in the sports sector. The issues at hand that were addressed were the effects COVID-19 has had on the girl child in terms of welfare, education, family relations and gender-based violence, the relationship between mentorship and leadership, and the role men play in the development of the girl child in sports.
The panel consisted of Claire Lamunu a pro basketball athlete, Lydia Mbabazi alumni of Score Beyond currently on a basketball scholarship at Victory Christian Center School Carolina, USA, Bronnie Kusiima alumni of Score Beyond currently pursuing a degree in nursing at Makerere Medical School (she is currently Miss Sports Uganda and Miss Pulse 2019), Elizabeth Kisolo an alumni to Score Beyond currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Global Challenges with a mission in Gender Equality at the African Leadership University, Kigali, and Angura Moses a parent to a Score Beyond alumni (Hope Akello, National Basketball player of the year 2019).
It was an interactive session between the panelists and the attendees moderated by Usher Komugisha.
Men’s engagement in developing the girl athlete is very important as we have mentors, coaches, media personalities, and parents who are all instrumental in developing the girl child.
“The days I play with boys I feel challenged. I feel my game is getting better and the men/boys am playing against always push me to become a better person. I may do a move while with the players but it will not pass as impressive as it would be while playing against a fellow girl. This will push me to play harder and once am playing with girls my game is way better”, said Bronnie.
We can’t underestimate the role men have played in supporting and developing women in sports.
“As a student player currently on a scholarship, I have to budget my time wisely. Academics and sports can’t be separated. There is no use of being a great player but with no great academic results as this will not place me in the best position to explore my talent to its best level. Whenever I am stuck, I go back to my mentor”, stated Lydia. Mentorship is the guidance that every sport needs. Mentorship places you on the right track and helps you align your academics, personal pursuits, and sports without one overriding the other.
Mr. Angura Moses boastingly talked about his daughter that had successfully attained her education journey through basketball scholarships and has always struck a great balance between her academics and sports life. He called on fellow parents to support their daughter’s ambitions in sports as it has much more to offer than what one perceives about sports.
“I was at first resistant to Hope playing sports because I thought her academics would be ignored but she was guided by the right people and she had a good performance in both areas,” he said with emphasis on academics.
Elizabeth a young passionate writer about her experiences in sports was key in identifying the areas that the COVID-19 period has exposed weakness or faults which are the poverty we currently still live in with a good number of girls getting married off to obtain wealth for the families. She also pointed out the lack of guidance and mentorship that has caused many girls to drop out of the sport after their secondary/ high school education. She called upon the attendees to identify their strengths so that they may build on them and use them to build the greater community.
“What next after sports?”, asked Clare. “You will soon be 40 years old. The statistics of former athletes out there struggling to build their lives after their active days is crazy and you wouldn’t want to be stuck after your playing days,” she added.
She has excelled greatly in academics and sports and is currently taking a Masters Degree in Biomedical Chemistry. She places great value in mentorship and is always open to mentorship sessions with young girls. She closed the conversation by reminding us that we should be open to all opportunities and not shut doors because we have our minds transfixed on scholarships.
The girl child is reminded that she is an equal contributor to society and her participation is highly appreciated. It comes at an advantage that more women are currently involved in sports and are occupying positions influential in decision-making for the girl child. This sets role models and mentors for the girl child. There are many more careers under sports that the girl child can venture into without necessarily being an athlete.
Happy International Day of the Girl Child!