Ambassador Hankins Joins Minister of Youth and Sport for Closing of U.S-Funded Kati Girls’ Soccer Tournament

Ambassador Hankins kicks off the final game

United States Embassy in Mali

Press Statement

 No: 6-EN   Bamako, Mali, April 8, 2021

 U.S. Ambassador Dennis B. Hankins delivered the opening kick of the championship game of the Kati Girls’ Soccer Tournament, the only girls’ inter-school soccer tournament in Mali.  Aiming to build confidence, discipline, and leadership among girls and empower them to participate fully in civic and economic life, the U.S. Embassy has sponsored for Kati’s girls’ inter-school soccer tournament for the past four years.   Minister of Youth and Sports Mossa Ag Attaher joined Ambassador Hankins for the conclusion of the tournament on Thursday at Stade Vincent Traore.

Ambassador Hankins presented prizes to the winning teams and thanked the parents for entrusting their children to the U.S. Embassy’s partner, the Saramaya Sports Association. “Girls and women who participate in sports are more likely to attend school and participate in society, promote tolerance, challenge gender stereotypes and discrimination, and become leaders,” said Hankins.

He also shared the story that Megan Rapinoe, the captain of the U.S. Women’s National Team, and the world’s best female soccer player in 2019, has become a leader in the fight for equal pay for women. He noted her recent meeting with President Biden at the White House to discuss how they can work together to ensure women get paid the same as men for doing the same job.

This year is the seventh year of the Kati girls’ inter-school soccer tournament. The tournament is more than just a game. Along with soccer, the tournament includes a monthlong program featuring female empowerment and leadership development activities to strengthen the capacity of 880 primary and secondary school girls (ages 12-16) in Kati. The activities consist of a 33-match soccer tournament across 40 schools, two training workshops on the topic of sports business and entrepreneurship, a three-day awareness campaign and workshop on family planning, and a communications campaign against female genital mutilation, forced marriage, and other forms of gender-based discrimination.

This tournament and the accompanying trainings against gender-based violence are emblematic of the United States Government’s commitment to promote the rights of women and girls in Mali and around the world.  These activities aim to build confidence and discipline in the target audience, equip them with basic reproductive health and family planning knowledge, educate them on income-generating activities related to their sports interests, and educate the public on the economic and social dangers of gender-based discrimination.

The girls’ soccer tournament and leadership development activities are being implemented by the Saramaya Sports Association of Kati (AS Saramaya); a non-profit sports association created in 2004. The organization promotes the empowerment of women and girls through women’s soccer.