Going for Goal: Zanzibar Soccer Dreams

Times are changing in the playing fields of soccer in Zanzibar as young Muslim girls are starting to have equal opportunities, and access to soccer training as part of physical education in schools. Thus, changing the status of women’s soccer - from playing in the streets to becoming part of Sports Education in government schools. Going for Goals: Zanzibar Soccer Dreams tells the story of a new era and changing times in this exotic Island on the Indian Ocean.

This film is a follow up to Zanzibar Soccer Queens – ZSQ -(2007) - , a film about the personal stories and football activities of Women Fighters, a predominantly Muslim women’s team in Zanzibar. ZSQ is a documentary portrait of strong-willed women determined to better their lives and define new identities through soccer.

In 2009, the players of Women Fighters’ team were invited to Potsdam, Germany, as a result of numerous screenings of Zanzibar Soccer Queens at international film festivals. Their involvement with soccer has truly taken them beyond the borders of their country, and away from the confines of traditional roles of the Muslim woman. Their journey to Germany is also influencing attitudes about woman in general and women’s soccer in particular. In this predominantly Muslim society, some sections of the community still frown upon women exposing parts of their bodies.

Their visit to Germany created a buzz in Zanzibar. More importantly, their visit has had a positive impact on many levels: it has exposed the players to the wider society and redefined their status; the government has recognised the value of what the women do; the players were seen as cultural and soccer ‘ambassadors’ of their country, and people treated the women differently; the opinions of some parents and general societal attitudes towards women’s soccer are changing; young girls now have equal opportunities and access to soccer training as part of their physical education in schools as a result of a new government policy; many young girls have since joined the Women Fighters’ team.

Also, since their return from Germany, the status and identities of the players have changed - the once marginalised soccer ‘hooligans’ are now visible, giving the women much-needed self-esteem and confidence, as well as sense of unity and solidarity that enhances nearly every aspect of their lives.

Going for Goals : Zanzibar Soccer Dreams highlights the transformation taking place in the playing fields of Zanzibar, where the benefits of soccer as a uniting force and a development tool are evident. Today, young girls have equal opportunities to play soccer in schools. Women’s Soccer has truly gone mainstream, and is becoming part of popular culture and imagination. It is also a dream come true for the sportswoman who founded the first female soccer team, Women Fighters Team.

Nassra J. Mohammed has been the architect and inspiration for developing women’s soccer in Zanzibar since the late 1980s. Her mission to bring the game into mainstream is gaining momentum. The government has listened and responded positively by changing its policy to allow young girls to participate in soccer as part of sports education. Back in 2006, Nassra said, “If women get equal opportunities to use pitches...if football can be taught in schools, it will survive and develop in future...” Today, the introduction of soccer in schools is a major breakthrough for the development of women’s soccer in Zanzibar.

Going for Goals shows the realisation of Nassra’s soccer dreams and goals. Many young women who aspire to play soccer at a higher level share her goals. Young girls in schools are now more determined and vocal about their rights to play soccer.

Through different activities, we see the excitement of the changing soccer landscape in Zanzibar. We hear about the memorable experiences of the players who went to Germany. Young girls speak about their dreams, the challenges and hope for the future. Some parents are more receptive to the idea of girls playing soccer, but some parents and religious leaders still hold their position against women playing soccer and exposing their bodies.

Going for Goals… presents Nassra’s soccer story. We see some of her ideas slowly turning into concrete reality through different football activities. We hear from young girls who speak about their dreams, challenges, struggles, achievements and hope for a brighter and better future. However, the most important change is happening and the future is bright as young girls embrace their chance to kick the ball and run around, screaming. They are excited and loving the right to play soccer, thanks to Nassra’s vision and mission to transform women’s participation in, and enjoyment of the game.