AKWOS trains some of the girls in their sport programmes as captains. They believe that, “Sometimes children understand children better and can identify more with their peers.” This is especially true when you are dealing with a child survivor of GBV. Training child captains not only benefits the other participants, but also helps the captain herself address her own trauma. Child captains are provided with a structured opportunity to give back to their community through assisting and supporting their fellow teammates.
Sport helps build leadership skills and offers survivors of GBV opportunities to practice this leadership. These skills are most important in conflict/post-conflict areas where leadership definitions have often been skewed or distorted by the hierarchy of militaries, violence, and rebel groups. The stakes of developing leadership skills are often higher, as women are often involuntary heads of household and/or have been excluded by their community due to the stigma attached to GBV. Sport teaches communication, delegation, responsibility, accountability, and other leadership skills but in a non-threatening environment. The skills learned on the pitch can easily be transferred to their other environments.
It is very important that survivors of GBV in conflict/post-conflict areas have access to work with and become role models. Survivors need someone to trust and communicate effectively with. In sport programmes younger girls are offered opportunities to be engaged by older members of the community, e.g. teachers and coaches.
Training girls and adolescents is imperative as they have special needs and special strengths, and they should be seen as survivors and active participants in creating solutions, not just as sufferers. In order to ensure that their needs are met, young girls and adolescents in conflict/post-conflict areas should be involved in community-based reconstruction programmes. One particularly effective way to give girls a sense of meaning and purpose is to involve them in developing and implementing programmes for younger children in the community. This not only helps to boost youths’ incomes, but also increases their sense of identity and self-worth in ways that improve their psychosocial well-being.