Discover Football Tournament Kicks Off In Berlin
Tournament brings together players from across the globe to promote intercultural dialogue and female empowermentJuly 31st, 2019
Tuesday, the 30th of July, the Discover Football tournament was launched in Berlin. It marks the 10th anniversary for the foundation, which promotes female empowerment and equality through the medium of football.
Football is used as a tool of empowerment and provides a space to play without discrimination and an area for intercultural exchange. Along with the football tournament, several seminars, conferences and films will take place, aiming to provide attendants skills and to share the knowledge that will provide them with strength, autonomy and mobility.
It brings together a wide range of diverse players, from a total of seven teams and academies from countries which face numerous challenges. They were then mixed into seven teams to compete in the tournament and supplement by the Discover Football’s All-Star XI. The All-Star team is formed by people who have made invaluable contributions to the organisation, female equality and football in general. They count a number of international players in their ranks, such as the Egyptian midfielder Esraa Awad, Khalida Popal who was a member of the first Afghanistan female side and Niloofar Bassir, member of the Iranian women side from 2006-2012. They also have several journalists, such as Cellestine Olilo, a Kenyan journalist fighting corruption in football and Marlene Assmann, a co-founder of the organisation and co-producer of the film ‘Football Under Cover’, which catalogues an amateur football in Berlin heading to Tehran to play a friendly against the Iranian national side.
The diversity within the sides continues across the teams, with them mixed to promote intercultural contact and create an environment to learn skills from each other. Team Emma Clarke, named in honour of the first female black football in Britain and the first black player to play for the England national side, of any gender, way back in 1895. The side is formed by the Rainbow Women of Kenya, a lesbian bisexual queer football team, which serves as a safe space for their members while simultaneously aiming for equal legal and health rights for females in their community, and Generation Amazing, based in Nepal which aims to teach life lessons and respect through the game. Team Karina Leblanc, a mix of Hypollolite, from Serbia who raise awareness of gender equality and Girls of Amerenia Leadership Soccor, with Armenia one of the lowest-ranked in political equality they seek to break this stereotype. Team Macarena Sánchez, is a mix of Generation Amazing and Hypollolite, who will hope to give a good account of themselves. Team Luma Mufleh, forged by Las Súper Poderosas, the first female academy in Bolivia will collaborate with the Rainbow Women of Kenya in going for gold. Team Fatuma Abdulkadir Adan, a team which is a mix of the Iranian Yaran Ateina side, who are leading the charge to allow women to watch live football and the fight for female equality, as well as players from Las Súper Poderosas.
Prior to the first match, the opening ceremony took place in which each side was welcomed to the stage for interviews and to share their experiences before the tournament began, as well as speeches from the organisers. Coach of Team Karina Leblanc, Tareiza Al Oudat, who comes from Jordan spoke about the challenges facing the state in such a war-ravaged region, specially the huge amounts of refugees, emphasising that “the most important thing is accepting other people,” and that football was an ideal means to generate the empathy required to do so. Many of the players who spoke emphasised their excitement at the opportunity to come to Berlin for the first time and have new experiences. Through the interviews, a commonly referring theme was the chance the tournament gives the space to learn about new cultures, to find common themes and learn from each other. The nature of the tournament promotes just this, with intercultural dialogue and discussion promoted through several workshops arranged to allow for just that. Consequently, it is hoped that ideas and culture will be shared not solely on the sports field, but socially as well.
The opening match was kicked off between the All-Star XI and Team Emma Clarke. The game began at a lightning pace, with Emma Clarke having the better of the opening exchanges. However, the experience of the All-Star XI soon showed, as they began to launch wave after wave of attack. The Emma Clarke keeper, made a series of stunning saves before their stoic resistance was finally broken. The All-Star side soon began to live up to their name, scoring 5 magnificent team goals and laid down a marker for the rest of the teams in the tournament. The second half continued in the vein the first half ended, with the All-Stars dominating. The largest cheer of the match with the score standing at 8-0, was drawn when the two forward from Team Emma Clarke, who had shown promise for the whole game, both scored goals. The match was played in a fantastic spirit, as the crowd, hoping the forecast rain would hold off, cheered on both sides with aplomb. The score in truth was an irrelevance, with both sides playing the game in the correct spirit, putting in utmost effort but also respecting their opposition. At the final whistle, both teams paid each other their respects and began joking and laughing with each other. If ever there was an affirmation of what football and indeed sport is about, it was here. The tournament runs until Sunday the 4th of July with matches taking place every afternoon into the evening at the Willy-Kressmann-Stadion in Berlin. After the matches, films or concerts will be taking places and numerous panel discussions are slotted in-between football matches. The tournament welcomes all to attend, to enjoy the football on display and appreciate the efforts of the diverse set of players.