Partnering to empower women athletes in Nepal

Cultural Affairs Officer Karl Rogers (back row) stands with Dare-to-Shine Program participants. Photo courtesy of the WE United Project
Cultural Affairs Officer Karl Rogers (back row) stands with Dare-to-Shine Program participants. Photo courtesy of the WE United Project

By Edward Denny

For every professional women’s soccer coach or athlete who has reached their lofty goals, there are scores of other young female athletes who are tackling challenges in their field, climbing to the next level. To assist Nepali women who are eager to leave the sidelines, Embassy Kathmandu has been partnering with The WE United Project (WE United) for the past two years to promote women’s soccer and empowerment programs in Nepal.  

Founded in 2014, WE United organizes games for girls throughout Nepal and launched the first women’s futsal (indoor hard court soccer) league in 2017. Embassy Kathmandu first worked with WE United in 2019 when the organization sent five players who represented Nepal’s rich cultural and ethnic diversity, aged 15–18, to the United States for the Sports Visitor Program (SVP)

“My visit to the United States as a sports visitor was a great experience and has changed my life,” said SVP alum Saraswati Saud. Reflecting further on the impact of the embassy’s sponsorship of WE United, Saud added, “I feel like I am capable of changing my society’s thoughts and views on what girls and women can do. As a mentor coach…I feel like I have the power to give back to the community.”

WE United subsequently received an embassy grant to implement the Dare-to-Shine Program (inspired by the slogan of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup), which trained 10 young women as soccer coaches—including the original five SVP participants. This year, the embassy also provided further support for the “WE Coach” program to train 12 additional coaches who each work with 10 players, thereby multiplying the program’s reach. Embassy Kathmandu’s Deputy Chief of Mission Manny Micaller spoke at the kick-off event.

“Here in Nepal, young girls playing a ferocious game of football can smash social stereotypes and signal change,” said Micaller. “Simply put, sports have the ability to change lives and change opinions.”

Edward Denny is a consular officer at Embassy Kathmandu.

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