We, too, can do it!

Granja Andar, a football for good organisation based in Argentina, aims to change the way society perceives in disability in communities typically hostile to it. It seeks to enable people with disabilities to break free from stereotypes and fulfil their real potential. Through a combination of work experience programmes, social business, sports, arts, culture and health-related activities, the organisation offers this vulnerable group a path out of exclusion and into an active, independent role in society.

Priscila Segovia (15) and Analía Domínguez (18) live in Cuartel V, a slum in Moreno, a town on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Both study at Special School N° 506 and are part of the Inclusive Football School. Despite their age difference, they became friends on the pitch and share the challenge of improving their daily skills. They had the incredible chance to participate in training sessions with female youth players from the Argentina National Team. Their big dream is to wear the national football team jersey in a World Cup.

Moreno is located in the Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires and has a population of over 500,000 inhabitants. It has the highest homicide rates in the suburbs of Buenos Aires. Moreno is also the district most affected by narcotics and with the highest occurrence of femicides. The members of the population that suffer the most are children and adolescents.

65,000 people in Moreno have at least one type of disability. Living in such a hostile environment, where they face social, cultural and attitudinal barriers, severely limits these members of the population in their basic development and means that they are unable to exercise their rights. This restricts their access to education, medical care, employment, cultural and sports activities. Granja Andar created its programmes with the goal of changing the lives of people with disabilities living in these challenging circumstances.

To achieve their goal of living an independent life, Paula Perez (23) and Camila Da Silva (20) are learning how to make their own decisions and priorities, as part of the process of developing into entrepreneurs. In the future, they will be part of one of the Inclusive Social Businesses driven by Granja Andar. They are honing new skills which ensure their personal progress and improve their quality of life.

In the lives of girls and women with disabilities, football is a means of allowing them broad and active participation in social life. Their action on the pitch allows them to position themselves in situations transferrable to their life circumstances beyond it. They are empowering themselves as subjects with rights, as well raising awareness on inequality and the changing role of women.

Through football they are able to become better acquainted with themselves and build themselves up with increased self-esteem and self-determination. They are thereby becoming the leaders of their own lives and ambassadors of the value of diversity.

‘Inclusive football’ is a sports discipline for children, youth and adults with and without disabilities in Argentina. It uses football as a tool to provide equal opportunities for all and builds a space where high-quality and competition-free sports education is offered to participants. Through football sessions, values such as equality are promoted as the basis for a more fair and inclusive society, where diversity is part of the human condition as a positive driving force for the construction of society and community. At present, 268 children are enrolled in the Inclusive Soccer School and 1027 players are part of the Inclusive Football League.

We believe that football has the power to inspire, motivate, unite communities, teach teamwork, resilience and self-esteem. It also allows the promotion of values such as respect, tolerance and cooperation. We further believe that dialogue and reflection are fundamental pillars that complement each other to ensure that girls and women with or without disabilities have the opportunity to develop their human potential which, without a doubt, significantly changes their lives and that of their communities.

Text: Martín Lucero

Photos: Sebastian Gil Miranda