In late-2016 Ascent was delighted to launch our female player development programme - Ascent Girls. Our vision is to harness the power of football, education and character development to meaningfully empower ambitious and talented girls in Malawi to fulfil their potential and be inspirational role models to millions of girls across South East Africa.
Female players at Ascent receive private school scholarships, train with the boys at age/physique appropriate levels to enhance their footballing development. They also benefit from full inclusion in our Character Development programme delivered in partnership with Right to Dream (Ghana). In addition medical, nutritional and pastoral care help Ascent to deliver holistic development for our female players.
Ascent is proud to offer girls the opportunity to use football to harness their potential to access opportunities within the game and through education. Football has historically been culturally seen as a boys sport (with girls often playing Netball) in Malawi though this is changing and Ascent is delighted to be a further catalyst for change.
Currently we have six female players on scholarship in the Academy with a growing number of players being invited for trials. In April 2017 Ascent appointed a female Malawian coach to assist the girls and be a female point of contact. This takes the number of female coaches in the Academy to two, with Caitlin Macmillan, former Women’s Scottish Premier League player who is our Head Goal Keeper Coach.
There are not many inspirational female role models to come out of Malawi, but Ascent has produced one female player that Malawi can be proud of, and Ascent founder, George Maguire, played a key part in her incredible story. Click here to read more.
Girls in Malawi:
Women and girls in Malawi face severe challenges. Malawian society and culture upholds archaic and discriminatory beliefs about the role of women within the family and community, which means that girls grow up being denied access to education and opportunities. Some families, especially in rural areas, expect girls to help with farming and domestic duties and, as a result, miss out on attending school. Ripple Africa estimate only 7% of the population of Malawi complete secondary school. Malawi has one of the highest rates of child marriage, with approximately 1 in 2 girls married by the age of 18. Additionally, 20% of girls will face sexual abuse by the time they turn 18, usually at home or in school (UNICEF). It is a sad reality that systemic gender inequality has led to women and girls being undervalued, abused, and viewed as second-class citizens.
Cultural expectations and gender roles also impinge on girls’ access to sports participation: girls are expected to carry out domestic duties (cleaning, cooking, water collection); sport is only considered a pursuit for boys; and there are conservative attitudes about girls wearing sports clothes.
With the Academy's scouting reach continue to expand across Malawi, Ascent aims to recruit the very best young female players from across the country, creating a full female squad by the end of 2019.
Ascent Head Goal Keeper Coach
Ascent has plans to provide a residential environment for girls showing outstanding academic or footballing potential. This will create a nurturing, protected environment in which girls can fulfil their potential as players and people, representing Malawi and the South East Africa region as role modes for future generations.