In 2012, Cecilia Andrén Nyström arrived in Mozambique with a ball and a dream. Two years later she is the head of the organization which every week helps 5,000 girls raise their self-esteem. By letting them play soccer.
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. Cecilia Andrén Nyström uses it as a tool to change the world.
“When I came to Mozambique, I didn’t know the language, and I struggled to communicate using Google Translate. But shortly I noticed that soccer served as a universal language,” says Cecilia Andrén Nyström, who lectured at The Association of Foreign Affairs, on her work within her organization, “Futebol dá força” – Soccer gives power
Cecilia A Nyström has a history of working as a junior coach in her hometown, Stockholm. When her mother was hired as a diplomat in Mozambique in 2012, the daughter, who was 20 years old at the time, decided to join her. Coincidently, she met the national team striker, Sarita, who invited her to watch the upcoming practice session. At least, that is what Cecilia A Nyström thought.
“When I arrived at the practice facility, everybody was looking at me, full of expectation. It turned out I had agreed to coach the team.”
Cecilia A Nyström’s leadership, based on respect and team spirit, drew a lot of attention. It did not take long before the team drew big crowds to their practice sessions. Coaches from a multitude of places around the capital of Maputo came to ask which methods she applied.
“Many of them were disappointed when it turned out that there was no secret, strategic component to it, but that the road to success was simply to infuse courage in the girls,” says Cecilia A Nyström.
This triggered Futebol dá força, FDF. The organization educated young women to become soccer instructors, but also in matters concerning sex and social life, human rights, and violence prevention. Currently, FDF has more than 300 leaders serving on a non-profit basis, who support 5,000 girls every week. The organization is also operating in Zambia and Sweden.
“To join the Swedish soccer family you have to be part of the white middle-class community. There are a multitude of solutions to this problem, but the will to do anything about it is missing,” says Cecilia A Nyström.
Cecilia A Nyström is of the mindset that it is possible to change a society – if society itself is making the actual change. That is why the organization intends to maintain a low profile and let local participants be in charge of the operations.
“There’s no point in me as an outsider telling them what to do. Instead of stepping into the hallway, I noticed it is better to sneak in using the back door.”
“When the father of a 12-year old girl from one of the teams forced her to quit, the girl’s team mates marched, infused with new confidence, to the father’s house and explained that there is nothing dangerous about them playing soccer. Today, the father is the one walking around knocking on people’s doors, inviting them to watch his daughter play. He is her biggest fan.”
- Residence: Stockholm
- Age: 22
- Commitment: Head of the organization Futebol dá força, and gives inspirational lectures.
- Awards: Ten Outstanding Young Persons Award 2012, H.M. King’s scholarship, Komp 2014; Business Leaders’ award, Young Entrepreneur 2014.
Facts: Futebol dá força
- Founded in Mozambique in 2012 by Cecilia Andrén Nyström.
- Educates leaders to become soccer coaches, but also within the field of sex and social life, value-based leadership, human rights, and how they as role models have to ability to prevent violence and sexual abuse.
- Has 312 leaders serving on a non-profit basis, and more than 5,000 active participants every week.
- Is operating in Zambia and Sweden as well. In 2016, a branch in Brazil will be created.
Text and photo: Axel Vikström
Translation: Maximilian Aleman-Tennell