Scoring a better future for Nepal's soccer girls

Project helps young women in Kaski with football training and facilities

A team of young girls and boys from the Generation Amazing project.

In 2016, the Generation Amazing Foundation, which aims to improve the lives of a million people from disadvantaged communities globally through access to sport, built a new football pitch in Pokhara.

In coordination with the local Adarsha Youth Club (AYC) young enthusiasts got to play football for the first time in their lives, attend training sessions and compete in mini-tournaments. They also got sports equipment including balls, gloves, and jerseys, and conducted training sessions. 

The facility included a small futsal area, separate changing rooms for boys and girls, and a stand for spectators. Similar pitches were built in Makwanpur and Kailali as well.

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Scoring a better future for Nepal's soccer girls NT
A player from Kaski's Siddhivinayak Boarding School receives a football trophy.

The Generation Amazing (GA) project by 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar provides young Nepali girls access to football was halted due to cost issues is being re-launched in Kaski. 

"Our club has been in touch with schoolgirls who were trained under the GA football pitch program,” says Padam Gurung of the AYC. “They are now interested in getting more training. I want to make sure that we will continue the girls’football training in the coming days.”

Even while young Nepali women and girls have traditionally faced barriers to taking part in sports, female athletes, in particular female footballers, have made notable achievements on the national and regional stages. 

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Scoring a better future for Nepal's soccer girls NT
Training session at the footbal pitch built by Generation Amazing in Pokhara.

The Nepal Women’s football team made it to the finals of SAFF in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2019 and 2022. It also made it to the finals of the South Asian Games, and the team has moved up 22 places in the FIFA ranking since 2010. Kathmandu’s Dasarath Stadium was filled to capacity during the 2022 SAFF Women's Championship final between Nepal and Bangladesh.

As it stands, the local community has welcomed the opportunity for girls in the area to be able to play football in Pokhara once again. One of them is Ajit Ojha, a former youth ambassador and computer teacher, who got involved with the AYC and Generation Amazing during a Disaster Risk Reduction training following the 2015 Nepal earthquake.

Ojha was part of the project for two years from 2018-2019 and also introduced a program for the local deaf school so the pupils would be able to play football as well. In 2019, he went to Qatar as part of a delegation of Nepali ambassadors to attend the Generation Amazing festival. His sister Smriti also took part in the training. 

“Football training must have female players, and my sister took part. The girls from the city started playing football for the first time,” says Ojha. “I want to see the ground full of children, with girls from the communities."

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Scoring a better future for Nepal's soccer girls NT
Ajit Ojha with Generation Amazing players.

Ojha is particularly proud of how the training programmes and the competitions that gave locals a chance to be involved in football have brought discipline to his friends’ lives and changed them for the better. 

“At the time my friends were badly affected by smoking and alcoholism, but those small tournaments made them trust sport. The training kept them away from the alcohol and the cigarettes,” he explains. “They attended regular training sessions, played lots of tournaments and even won some.”

Ojha is delighted by the club’s decision to let girls back in to use the facilities at Bhandardhik. He says, "I can truly say whenever I see a jersey with GA’s name printed on it, I can feel the change it has brought. It has been emotional for the youth in my community.”

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Anthony Harwood is a former foreign editor of the Daily Mail.