The role of football in women's life in Andes

Andean women fight for ball during a soccer match

As much imagination you can have in your mind, you can't think an image of tired women from hard work, to play football in order to find solace in a soccer match. It can be strange but this is reality in the long distance Andean communities in Peru. In these communities, where poor families survive by cultivating, football has the same reputation as Church.

It all started a few years ago when Juan, a local farmer, organized a football match for women in Andes. The mission of this match was to open a way for the participation of local communities in policy.

"We were the first to organize activities for women in this community. We were the first women to play football in this part. Nobody had thought until then. But all women came to play and we have not stopped since." says Juan.

Women in Andean villages have spent decades having a passive role in the organization of societies and politics, being condemned to work in the kitchen, to plow their fields and feed cattle. Football gave them the opportunity to gather together and talk freely about the needs of their society. The discussions at the end of the match, look like open meetings.

One of the main topics is climate change and its effect on families who are dependent solely on agriculture and livestock. The high slopes of the Andes in Peru, at the past, could feed the rural communities but today, the climate is bad since there are no rains. Juana's family grows corn and potatoes, but the floods, as an adjunct of climate change, destroy their crops, posing difficult situations to locals.

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"If we all join together and encourage each other then we will find a solution. We should work as a team. If we don't work together and remain scattered then we will face a certain death." said Juana to a journalist of Al Jazeera.

Most farmers in Andes feel that the government forgot them. About 60% live in extreme poverty and have no access to basic needs such as clean water and medical care. Thanks to football, Juana was the first woman to speak at assemblies and managed to reach politicians, who until recently was the exclusive preserve of men.

Too many local women's football teams have appeared in the area, with women to be determined to break the silence and participate actively in society. Every time they meet with representatives of the political world to convey their concerns, they remember that football gave them the confidence to "speak louder".

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