Right To Play from Barefoot Workshops on Vimeo.

Click above to watch a film on how RV United is breaking down barriers (Video by Kristin Gladney, Uta Hesterberg & Ewa Sklodowska).

In January of 2012, Grassroot Soccer South Africa staff in Khayelitsha began noticing something new and exciting happening in the community. After working with hundreds of girls through the GRS SKILLZ Street Program, Program Coordinator Vuyolwethu “Vuyo” Kayi and current GRS staff member (and intern at the time) Rebecca Hershow saw how energized and confident the girls became while playing soccer.

According to Vuyo, “There are very few girls’ soccer teams in Khayelitsha because people always believe that girls can’t play soccer.”  Vuyo and Rebecca wanted to develop a girls’ team not only to improve the players’ soccer skills, but to build their self-efficacy. Thus, RV United was formed. Since 2012, RV United has grown to a fully committed group of 20 girls ages 15-26. A number of the players are SKILLZ Street Coaches and graduates. In 2013, the team became an official partner of GRS South Africa.

Currently GRS SA and RV United are teaming up on outreach projects for RV United players to lead and implement. Already the RV United players have inspired a group of younger girls in Khayelitsha to request their own team, RV Juniors. GRS SA and RV United hope to lead a movement across Cape Town for more established girls’ soccer leagues and teams. Team members are also helping at HIV Counseling and Testing Tournaments. Additionally, because the team has become a visible presence in the community, and so many GRS SKILLZ Street Coaches are players on the team, it has amplified their impact as role models. In fact, there has been so much enthusiasm from younger girls that a RV United Junior squad has now been formed of 8-13 year olds.

Vuyo coaches the team with Mphaki Tjhopolo, the SKILLZ Street coordinator at the Khayelitsha FIFA Football for Hope Centre. Last year RV United participated in its first official soccer league, the SAFA Promotional League, where the team finished in first place with an undefeated record! They have been promoted for 2014 and will be playing in the SAFA Regional League.

Follow all the RV United action on the team’s Facebook page.