PLAY LIKE A GIRL

How a Soccer School is Transforming Kiberia One Girl at a Time

Ellie Roscher

Growing up and living in Kibera, Kenya, Abdul Kassim was well aware of the disproportionate number of challenges faced by women due to the extreme gender inequalities that persist in the slums. After being raised by his aunts, mother, and grandmother and having a daughter himself, he felt that he needed to make a difference.

In 2002, Abdul started a soccer team for girls called Girls Soccer in Kibera (GSK), with the hope of fostering a supportive community and providing emotional and mental support for the young women in the town. The soccer program was a success, but the looming dangers of slum life persisted,

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Growing up and living in Kibera, Kenya, Abdul Kassim was well aware of the disproportionate number of challenges faced by women due to the extreme gender inequalities that persist in the slums. After being raised by his aunts, mother, and grandmother and having a daughter himself, he felt that he needed to make a difference.

In 2002, Abdul started a soccer team for girls called Girls Soccer in Kibera (GSK), with the hope of fostering a supportive community and providing emotional and mental support for the young women in the town. The soccer program was a success, but the looming dangers of slum life persisted, and the young women continued to fall victim to the worst kinds of human atrocities. Indeed, it was the unyielding injustice of these conditions that led Abdul to the conclusion that soccer alone was not enough to create the necessary systemic change.

In 2006, after much work, the Kibera Girls Soccer Academy (KGSA) was established with their first class of 11 girls and 2 volunteer teachers. Today, KGSA is composed of 20 full-time staff, provides a host of artistic and athletic programs for more than 130 students annually, and continues to expand. By providing academics inside and outside of the classroom along with artistic and athletic opportunities, KGSA inspires the young women of Kibera to become advocates for change within their own communities and for Kenya as a whole.

Play Like a Girl tells the KGSA story through Abdul’s voice and vision and the stories of key staff and students. It is written by Ellie Roscher who spent two summers doing research at KGSA and several years writing this book.

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  • Viva Editions
  • Paperback
  • August 2017
  • 240 Pages
  • 9781632280572

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$16.95

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About Ellie Roscher

Author of How Coffee Saved My Life, Ellie Roscher is also a contributor to several blogs, magazines and compilation books. As seen on the TEDxSLC stage, Roscher’s latest book project is about how Kibera Girls Soccer Academy is educating girls in extreme poverty.

​Ellie is the director of youth and story development at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, teaches creative writing at the Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth, and previously taught theology at Cretin-Derham Hall High School. ​Ellie’s work as an educator, writer and speaker has brought her to places like Kenya, El Salvador and Uruguay, but she currently lives in Minneapolis with her spouse and sons. She has a MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and a MA in Theology from Luther Seminary.

Author Website

Praise

“The inhabitants of Africa’s largest urban slum are often depicted with broad, incomplete brush strokes but Play Like a Girl gives us history and nuance instead. We learn the history of Kibera, its position within the larger Nairobi ecosystem, the complex list of issues that affect a girl’s ability to stay in school and about each of the students and teachers who gave so much to make KGSA a reality.”—Dani Zacarias, Director of Content at Worldreader

“This book contains very personal stories, very powerful stories. Play Like a Girl is about particular people who will charm you and show how desperate problems can be overcome. In that sense, it is heartening and heart-warming. Through these stories, we come to recognize how the human spirit will prevail. We owe a great debt to people like Abdul Kassim and his colleagues who have turned vision into reality.”Brooks Goddard, TEAA President 

Books For Africa applauds the brave girls of Kibera who used their voices and their bodies to advocate for their needs and pursue their dreams. They will be writing the story of the next generation of African youth, with all of their promise and power. We all recognize and encourage their inherent capabilities and possibilities.”Carole Patrikakos, Deputy Director of Books For Africa

Discussion Questions

1. What role does gender play in education? economics?

2. How did you relate or not relate to the characters?

3. Which situations did you find hard to imagine?

4. In your opinion, what was the most pivotal turning point in the school’s success?

5. Which person were you the most drawn to?

6. What surprised you? What did you learn that you didn’t know before?

7. What scene has stuck with you since you read it?

8. What brokenness or struggles did you see in the slum that you see (albeit on a different scale) in your own life?

9. Did you like Roscher’s writing style? Was it effective in communicating the story of KGSA?

10. Do you think a nation’s government should play a role in protection society from poverty? How is Kenya doing? How is the US doing?

11. What did the story make you think about in terms of when and where you were born?

12. What can you do in your own life to honor the story?

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