adidas Breaking Barriers Project

Changing the narrative around girls in sports takes a team.

That’s why Common Goal joined the adidas Breaking Barriers Project.

Starting in 2020, the Project collaborates with sport for good organisations to increase girls' participation on the pitch and in leadership positions.

The Project aims to drive systemic change by enabling 100 Champions to become role models through leadership training. These adidas Breaking Barriers Champions can positively influence 50,000 women and girls across their local communities.

Goal Click shared the stories of six adidas Breaking Barriers Champions from Common Goal football for good organisations La Rotllana, Johan Cruyff Foundation, Balon Mundial, and Cross Cultures Project Association (CCPA). Each Champion also captured photos to accompany her story.

Here is a snippet from each story. Find the stories in full here.


Scoring For The Future - Margherita Cicolin, a coach with Balon Mundial in Italy. 

What do these images mean to you as a Champion of the adidas Breaking Barriers Project? 

As an adidas Breaking Barriers Project Champion, these photos show that change is possible; that sometimes there are difficult moments, but you can overcome them; that if you want to aim high, you can; that collaboration between foreign countries and different cultures is feasible; that it is possible to be positive role models for children; that there is hope for women’s sport, but the road is still long. 

The impact of Breaking Barriers has been huge. It has allowed a lot of girls and women to see that they are not the only ones thinking the same way and if they want, they can change the lives of children. It is important we continue to give them the tools and knowledge to implement change. 

Discover more of Margherita’s story here


An Obsession, A Passion, A Dream -  Emilija Smiljkovic, a coach with Cross Cultures Project Association (CCPA) in Serbia.

What did you try to capture with your photos and was there any wider meaning? 

The photos were taken in Majdanpek and Knjazevac in Serbia. I wanted to show my teammates and the girls I coach. I tried to show the atmosphere of the team and interesting moments. 

Someone somewhere will see a part of me and a part of my life. That is a big thing for me because I always wanted to show to the world that somewhere in little Serbia, there is someone for whom football is everything, an obsession, a passion, a goal, a life. 

There is a photo of 11 players warming up for the game. It was 3 degrees, during a heavy downpour, and on a terrible field. One of them has an exam at the university tomorrow. One has two children and a husband who are waiting for her at home. One took sick leave from work to come to play the game. One closed her shop to come. One left her sick mother at home. Two travelled 900km by bus, came, froze, got wet, some a cold and returned home. This shows how much girls love football without being paid.

Discover more of Emilija's story here.


For All The Girls - Sheyla Mohammad Molina, a coach with La Rotllana Association in Spain.

What does sport mean to you? What ambitions do you have for the future? 

For me, sport is another form of expression, another part of my personality. Sport has always been present in my life and I do not think it will ever change. In the future, I would like to encourage other girls to practice sport and believe in themselves. 

Also, I would like to have more experiences related to sports and learn about other philosophies of team sports - every team has a different view of sports. In my team, we think that everyone deserves an opportunity to try, no matter if you are the best player or a beginner. Sport is not only about competition. 

Discover more of Sheyla's story here.


Becoming a Role Model – Anja Topley, a coach with Cross Cultures Project Association (CCPA) in Croatia.

Why is sport important for your community? 

Every sport is important for every community. For health, for personality, for experience, for friendships. We wanted to involve girls a little more in - as everyone says – “men’s sports”. We wanted to break the barriers for girls, to show them they can do anything as well as the boys. We wanted to be role models for them, as women athletes and coaches. 

Read Anja's full story here.


Together We Can Make a Change – Shawni Latuheru, a coach and youth worker at the Johan Cruyff Foundation in the Netherlands.

What has your sports journey been like up until now? 

When I was 9, I started playing soccer in an all-boys team, V.V. Moordrecht. At that time there were no girls’ or women’s teams. There were not many girls my age playing soccer and within the club, there were only two other girls who played. During this time, I struggled a lot with my self-confidence. Many times, I heard preconceptions like “girls cannot play soccer”. There were many barriers for me that I tried to overcome. 

Women’s soccer has come a long way, but there are still barriers to break and sometimes they are the same barriers that I tried to overcome when I started. This is the main reason why I enjoy my work and why I joined the adidas Breaking Barriers Project, which empowers women and girls across Europe and provides the tools to lead change within the sports industry. Knowing more methods to improve gender equity is very useful. Because now I can help and support girls breaking those same barriers. 

Discover Shawni's full story here.


Changing Minds and Lives - Melenny Huayamabe, a coach at La Rotllana Association in Spain.

What impact has the adidas Breaking Barriers Project had on your journey as a leader and change-maker? 

Participating in the adidas Breaking Barriers Project has been unexpected and very needed. When I joined, I was just a girl who played sports and knew few things outside my environment. I have learnt a lot from sports, about myself, and about the power of the change-maker. I can see there is so much work to do in my community and in other parts of the world. 

It is possible to connect histories and goals between many countries. The fight for equity and inclusiveness depends on everybody. Men and everybody watching need to be aware, not only girls and women. Now I know I can contribute inside and outside of the pitch, with my family, my friends, and my team. I can always make a change. 

Discover Melenny's full story here.