Goals for Girls connects girls from different countries and backgrounds with their peers around the world in a forum that addresses social and health challenges through cultural exchange and soccer. Since 2007, Goals for Girls has used this unique platform to help disadvantaged girls across the globe by providing access to health and education programs taught through the game of soccer. It gives girls an opportunity to break down cultural and socio-economical barriers to create change through addressing common challenges.

In the U.S. soccer is providing healthy, engaging team environments for young girls across the country. Soccer teaches important lessons on and off the field that help young people develop discipline, commitment, healthy behaviors, and peer communication among others. In disadvantaged communities across the globe soccer is more than just a game: it is an important and innovative tool that provides a vital outlet to girls who need creative ways to overcome obstacles.

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Goals for Girls American U-17 girls soccer team players with Indian girls

The Goals for Girls 2016 Leadership Summit is the most important sport-based program of the year for girls in India. Organizations from all over India sent delegations of coaches and their young female program participants to New Delhi to participate in a week-long, sun-up to sun-down schedule of on and off the field activities designed to empower girls through the game of soccer. The Indian girls and coaches were joined by one of the top American under 17 girls’ soccer teams. In all there were over 160 girls and 45 coaches attending this year’s Summit.
The Summit was designed to be an annual event that has far-reaching impact through partner organizations around India. Led by 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist and FIFA World Cup Winner Cindy Parlow Cone and her teammate Danielle Slaton from the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, and a delegation of high level American and Indian coaches, the Summit built on the groundwork laid in 2013/14.

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2-time Olympic Gold Medalist and FIFA World Cup Winner Cindy Parlow Cone with kids

The 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist and FIFA World Cup Winner Cindy Parlow Cone jumped on the first opportunity of being involved with Goals for Girls along with her teammate Danielle Slaton.

She said “I felt like it was my duty to give back. Not only to the kids in the United States but to the kids especially girls all over the world. That’s what brought me to India through Goals for Girls and I’m loving it, this is my second trip to India and I can see a lot of growth in the girls’ game from my first trip to my second. But there’s still a lot work to be done here in India. You can tell that the girls love soccer, they have a passion for it, they want to play they just need more opportunity. If India really wants to become a leader in the world in soccer they want to start developing girls younger, and training them in the soccer skills younger because there is no reason why India couldn’t be a world power in the International stage.”

“The experience with the kids is unbelievable, they’re fantastic. You hear all these stories about young girls in India that they don’t get an opportunity to play sports and it is so true. We are like in a bubble here right now, in this beautiful Delhi stadium where these girls have come to join us from all over the country and the smiles on their faces when they get to play soccer is just so bright. I just hope that the people of India keep getting these young girls more and more opportunities to play and continue to develop not only as soccer players but as young women.“

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American Olympian Danielle Slaton with kids during a team activity

The Summit invitees, girls ages 9-18 living throughout the country, participated in soccer exercises and workshops that equip them with leadership and other valuable life skills based on the Goals for Girls customized curriculum. The soccer activities included technical and tactical training sessions, mini tournaments and competitions, an exhibition game, as well as daily training sessions by former U.S. Women’s National Team players. The leadership activities focused on empowering young women and encouraging them to make healthy choices.

One of the U-17 American girls soccer team player Maggie Hunt joined us to tell us more about the players’ experiences.

Maggie Hunt: “we wanted to raise money for the girls. We did bake sales, we did car washes, we went out to our communities and asked for money. We also went onto soccer.com and worked with the shirts and stuff and get money from them. We tried to do everything that we could. Once we got there it was so empowering to see these girls, they gave this warm welcome like no one could ask for, It was just amazing. It was so good to see the smiles on their face after a three days trip, we were so exhausted but just by their smiles it made us just so much happier. When with them, they were always laughing, they were always talking about the community with us, it was inexplicable. I miss them already because I’m leaving in a few days but I want to keep a relationship with them.”

On community service:

“We went to schools, we got to play soccer with them and just help them throughout. I was so proud of all the girls who were stepping up in the schools, especially in the Muslim school. The experience was amazing, there are 150 girls, I love all the girls. It’s incredible. We don’t even get that many at camps; it’s like a summer camp for us. To have it for a week straight is amazing. To know that these girls are going to go back to their community and help the community, it’s what we want to do when we go back.”

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Founder Ian Oliver, Cindy Parlow and Danielle Slaton with kids

Proud founder Ian Oliver who also took an active role on and off field with the Indian soccer players shed some light on the Goals for Girls leadership summit.

“It’s a mix of soccer, life skills and leadership. The soccer, we are lucky to have all these high level coaches from the US women’s national team as well as Indian women’s national team. There’s a lot of soccer but with the soccer is messaging activities around, decision making and leadership, goal setting, the things that really help young girls become strong women some day and the fact that they’re participating in soccer allows them to really gain confidence, work communication, work on team work, work on all those things that really create future leaders so, some of the activities each day relate to the same theme, they may be different activities but the first day was what is leadership? The second day was about how does leadership affect me and my community, they third day is what am I going to do about it? Am I going to become a leader? And if so, how? That is setting goals. And on final day will be the action of plans. They are coming up with their action plans, they are saying “I’m going to my town, my neighborhood, and will be a change agent. I will do the positive things in my community as a leader.”

On staff:

“Cindy and Danielle are icons of the sport in the world, they played on the best team in the world and have won everything you can win, the FIFA world cup and the Olympics gold medals but they’re wonderful women they are leaders and they are role models for these Indian girls and as well as these American girls who are here and they will be quick to tell anyone that they’re coaching that they also have struggles, they also get tired, they also have some issues in their lives that they have to deal with and I think that the girls need to hear that it’s okay, and that not every leader is perfect, and everyone has things that they’re dealing with in their lives and that’s kind of why it’s nice to come together, It’s just to see that real people are leaders not just what you see in the media, Modi and Obama. It shows that real people can be leaders in their own way. But it’s been great, their ability to take a soccer activity for 10 year olds and then 2 minutes later adapt that for 17-year olds is really fascinating to watch. The final thing I’d like to say about that is we are also coaching the coaches here and we have 50 coaches who from each of these organizations that are involved with us and Cindy and Danielle are taking the lead putting together a curriculum for those coaches.”

Plans and Goals for girls in future:

“The plan is to put together a plan to make this summit into an annual summit…and for the kids, we’ve heard it directly from them, they’re saying to our American girls and to me and to some of the other coaches – I feel more confident. I can’t wait to go home and share what I’ve learnt, I’m more social now, you taught me how to open up and speak in front of a group. All those things can be so minor but for someone that has never done it, making that change for themselves is actually quite big so I think they’re excited to take what they’ve learnt here and go back home and see how to fit in now in their home communities with all this new confidence and share what they’ve learnt.

Background on Goals for Girls:

Goals for Girls connects girls from different countries and backgrounds with their peers around the world to address social and health challenges through cultural exchange, service, and soccer. Since 2007, we have used this unique platform to help disadvantaged girls across the globe by providing life skills education, all taught through the game of soccer. Led by icons of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and education and public health specialists, the program enhances the work of partners in its program countries through a customized curriculum and methodology.

Participants

Indian Organizations/Participants

Through partner organizations, 150 girls from all over India had traveled to New Delhi.

  • Bangalore: Magic Bus
  • Delhi: CEQUIN
  • Delhi: Foot & Boot
  • Delhi: Magic Bus
  • Manipur: AMMA FC
  • Mysore: Magic Bus
  • Nagpur: Slum Soccer
  • Ranchi: YUWA

Goals for Girls U.S. Team

  • 18 high level girls soccer players (ages 16-17) from North Carolina
  • 2 former U.S. Women’s National Team players (Cindy Parlow and Danielle Slaton)
  • Staff from Goals for Girls (Ian Oliver, Jackie Skinner, and Brooke Benton).

Other supporting organizations:

  • Anglian Management Group
  • Fast & Up
  • Khel Now
  • Lions Club
  • NIVIA
  • Sakat City Hospital
  • Soccer.com
Adarsh Rao
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