#AtryforChange advocates for the girl child
A member of the Rugby Africa 12 Unstoppables, and one of the key pioneers for the #AtryforChange campaign, Fatma El-Kindiy is using her immense talent in rugby to send a message of hope to young women and girls who are victims of their circumstances. The campaign is a self-development and leadership training program targeted at primary school leavers, that aims to guide the young participants in finding their life’s purpose and helping them take the first steps in what will be a lifelong journey of learning, achieving and sharing in chosen field or discipline that they are passionate about.
The initiative which includes introspective exercises, recreational activities with learning objectives, mentorships as well as preparatory programs in enterprise was inspired by El-Kindiy’s own self-confidence, more especially the change she saw in herself when she started playing rugby and how much braver She had become. “I found it easier to tackle tough situations at work and at home. I wanted to reach out to young girls and hear them out, girls who had never played rugby before, to overcome their fears in life and have courage, strength earn some respect and confidence in their daily lives and be agents for change in their communities,” she explained.
El-Kindiy, together with her colleague Gorata Kgathi, have made extreme progress with the campaign as they have successfully managed to get girls out of their shells, that is girls who had lost their confidence because they were constantly being body shamed or thought they looked ugly in their own skin, were able to find inner joy and peace after the outreach. “They were able to tackle, take a hit during the game, and become aggressive and their attitudes changed. They become more attentive and were not scared to speak up or read out loud a paragraph from a book in front of others,”El-Kindiy explained. While A try for change has not been able to spread to other parts of Gaborone and beyond the city borders because of the Coronavirus pandemic, the pilot that was well received.
On her role as one of the 12 Unstoppable, El-Kindiy recalls coming across Rugby Africa’s post on their social media pages looking for ‘Unstoppables’ of the continental #TryAndStopUs campaign. “They asked unions across Africa to nominate a lady who had helped the growth of Rugby in their communities. I was nominated and they asked for a short video depicting what I had done to develop rugby which was sent by the union,” she said. The stories of the 12 ladies selected from different parts of Africa were mainly meant to uplift and get more people to learn about Rugby and its positive impact. “Through all media we were able to tell our stories and encourage more women to join the sport and reach out to those who did not know that women can play it too no matter their cultural and or religious background nor race,”El-Kindiy said. She further mentioned that it has been an all-round great experience, and she is humbled to have been afforded an opportunity to engage with exceptional women who are very supportive of their sporting careers as young women in Rugby. “Being an ambassador is a big status for me. It is something I cherish and hold with a lot of respect, to be able to talk about Botswana and the union and our achievements in terms of growing the sport is commendable,” she said.
El-Kindiy’s role as one of the 12 Unstoppables is playing an active accelerating her sporting career. She was recently appointed in Rugby Africa’s Advisory sub-committee on Welfare and Participation. “I will continue to guide young girls to get into rugby and impact many at larger scale. Even if I was to move to another country my heart lives within Rugby,” she mentioned.
El-Kindiy is the first born of five children. She moved to Botswana in 2003, where she attended NIIT for basic computer studies, then Genetic school where she attained a diploma and higher diploma in Graphic design before finally a Bachelor of Arts (BA) Hons in Interior Architecture from Limkokwing University. “Growing up I was interested and played football in high school and my father was a great sportsman. He coached a community football club and that was how I came to learn about football,” she reminisced. However, El-Kindiy’s father would often take her to watch rugby games during a time when she was least interested in the sport more so that it was male dominated. It was only in 2015 that she stumbled upon an old friend who struck a nerve after raising concerns over never seeing women play rugby before. “This friend told me about a local club that young girls used to and after observing club members for quite some time, she fell in love with the sport. El-Kindiy was the ladies’ representative for the club from 2016 to 2019 and in the same year she was appointed as the Public Relations and Communication officer for the Botswana Rugby Women’s sub-committee.
The sterling player has high hopes for the campaign, anticipating more growth in terms of numbers and community outreach. “I would like to see more girls have confidence in their dreams and visions and be able to see it in reality and desire for the program to reach greater heights locally and internationally,” she said.