Modern Slavery May. 2014 - Page 17

“Football was my only chance to avoid child marriage”

For Linda, football was her only chance to avoid an early marriage with a much older man. Succeeding in a football competition was the critical point in her life that allowed her to have a future very different from the one most girls in her community do.

When Linda’s parents announced their plans to marry her off, Linda panicked. She was only 15. Marriage would mean the end of her freedom, her education, and her passion: football.

Her dream? Joining SALT academy’s football team to take part in the Football for Hope festival at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Linda made a deal with her parents to let her apply. If she was selected, she would be able to continue her studies and turn down the marriage proposal. If she wasn’t, she would go ahead with the marriage.

Armed with one ball, Linda practiced football by herself, day in and day out. And so, on the day of the competition, her coach said the words she had been waiting to hear: “You won!”