The Mixed Gender Football League is an after-school football league that provides township youth with a rare (especially for young girls) opportunity to play organized sports. Boys and girls play together on the same team with special rules designed to promote gender equality. The league matches also fill an important gap in an adolescent's day: the time between the end of school and the return of their parent or guardian from work, which has been identified as a high-risk period for drug and alcohol use and sexual risk behaviour.
Our objective is to build gender equality on the football pitch in order to develop it off the football pitch. By providing a healthy after-school recreational opportunity for under-resourced schools, we strive to develop young football players of both genders to become role models and ambassadors in their families, schools and communities.
There are eight teams in the league and each team has 6 players - three boys and three girls. The league plays a schedule in which each team plays each other team twice. All matches are played six-a-side on the tar pitch outside the WhizzKids United Health Academy. Matches are played in the afternoons from Monday to Friday.
Each team has two captains - one boy and one girl. The captains held a meeting at the start of the league to determine league rules. One of the interesting rules adopted was that only girls can take free kicks. Also, due to the small length of the pitch, the goalkeeper may not kick the ball beyond the halfway line in the air. The league follows FIFA Fair Play rules, which means there is no referee.
In the conclusion of the league, we hold two knockout Cup tournaments: one for the top four teams and one for the bottom four teams. There will be four trophies awarded altogether: one for the league champion, one for each of the two knockout tournaments, and one for the fair play team (to be voted on by all teams). All players received branded football kit as well as a photo ID card to ensure their safety. Free transportation has been chartered to safely convey the teams to and from their matches.
Ever since its inception, the Mixed Gender Football League has been a great success. All the players have registered for services at the WhizzKids United Health Academy and nearly all of them have undergone HIV Counselling and Testing as well. A lot of supporters turn up to watch the matches and many of these have registered and accessed services at the Health Academy too.