Empower young girls through football, sports – Pia Cayetano
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Pia Cayetano is known for her love of sports. A triathlete, she is often seen participating in different events around the country.
What is less known about her, however, is her interest in football.
Although a volleyball player, Cayetano believes Filipinos can excel in football because it's not dependent on one's height, unlike volleyball and basketball. (READ: Remembering the Philippines as a football nation)
More important, Cayetano has observed that football has the ability to empower young girls.
“Have you seen these girls sprint in football?” Cayetano asked. "When the ball is passed to you, you sprint. That is so empowering to watch that.”
Empowering young girls is partly why she has campaigned for increased women’s participation in football and other sports. This would give young girls a model to inspire them to grow in confidence and ability.
However, Cayetano and other advocates face an uphill battle. In the Philippines, there is still a stigma attached to girls playing sports. (READ: A call for women's sports)
It gets worse globally: in countries like Iran, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia, the prevailing notion is women should be more domestic. Even the footballing world has been criticized for having pockets of hostility against female officials and players.
This is happening despite access to sports being enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
Growing the game
On Cayetano’s part, she is actively campaigning for sports and women empowerment through Pinay in Action (PIA), which she fondly describes as “her baby.”
PIA provides women with opportunities to play sports and engage in an active lifestyle, and has evolved to helping grow women’s football in the country under the slogan, “Empowering girls: One goal at a time.”
According to Cayetano, her slogan reflects her advocacy of inspiring girls to reach their goals through sport.
For February 2016, PIA is holding a “Football Fiesta” from the 13th to the 14th. The project hopes to include 8 teams of girls aged 13 and under, 8 teams of girls aged 16 and under, and 16 women’s teams. With side events, Cayetano hopes to entice non-fans to enjoy and support the sport.
Cayetano said having the tournament is the fulfillment of her dream to start a football tournament in the city. For the senator, it would be even better if it turns into a league, but she adds, “I’m just one piece of the puzzle.”
Ultimately, she hopes it would translate to more support for the sport and her advocacy.
But for now, Cayetano’s goals are simple: get kids to have fun. – Rappler.com
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