Zanzibar Soccer Queens Impact Study
(Florence Ayisi )
The research fieldwork for this impact case study was undertaken in collaboration with Dr. Catalin Brylla, Bournemouth University. The study maps the social impact of my 2007 documentary film, Zanzibar Soccer Queens. This film documents the personal stories and football activities of ‘Women Fighters’, a predominantly Muslim women’s team in Zanzibar. The research for the impact study was shortlisted for the ‘Research in Film Awards – International Development: Mobilising Global Voices’ by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) U.K.
Zanzibar Soccer Queens positively impacted on Civil Society and Cultural Life in Africa and Europe. [Link]
Some of the impact of this film is documented on this website and also in a feature-length documentary film, Zanzibar Soccer Dreams (Florence Ayisi and Catalin Brylla, 2016). [Link]
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 football took the women beyond the borders of their country, and away from the confines of ascribed traditional roles of the Muslim woman. In some sections of this predominantly Muslim society, people still frown upon women exposing parts of their bodies in public. Their visit to Germany created a buzz in Zanzibar. More importantly, their visit has had a positive impact on many levels: it has made the players more visible both in Zanzibar and abroad. The film helped to redefine their status as women who are determined to engage in sports despite the challenges they face; the government recognised the value of what the women do to the point where the players were seen as cultural and football ‘ambassadors’ of their country during their trip to Germany. Since their return from Germany, the status and identities of the players have changed – the once marginalised football ‘hooligans’ are now visible, and confident women who have gained much-needed self-esteem, as well as sense of unity and solidarity that enhances nearly every aspect of their lives. The negative societal attitudes towards female footballers is changing, and the players are seen and treated differently. The opinions of some parents towards women playing football is changing. The social impact of Zanzibar Soccer Queens has resulted in new possibilities for young girls; most schoolgirls now have equal opportunities and access to football training as part of their physical education as a result of a change in government policy. Also, many girls have since joined the Women Fighters’ team.
This impact study highlights transformations taking place in Zanzibar where the benefits of women playing football has become a uniting force, a tool for social change and women’s empowerment. Women’s Football in Zanzibar has truly gone mainstream and has becoming part of social and cultural collective imagination. It is also a dream come true for Nassra Juma Mohamed, the feisty sportswoman who founded the first female football team, Women Fighters’ Team.
The film has also created useful spaces for discussions around issues related to equality and racism in football, health, social justice and capacity building initiatives in diverse community settings.
This impact case study was shortlisted for the prestigious Research in Film Awards by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), U.K.
Research by Professor Florence Ayisi which was documented in a film on the lives of an all-female Muslim football team in Zanzibar has helped to improve respect and understanding, encouraged more women to get involved in sport and has been used to tackle racism in football and raise awareness of HIV and AIDS.
Selected Festival Screening Highlights
Kino im U Cinema, Dortmund, Germany
SVT – (Swedish Television)
RFO Television, France
TV5 Monde Afrique, France
The Community Channel Television, UK
Goteborg International Film Festival, Sweden
Canadian Sports Film Festival
FESPACO, Burkina Faso
Zanzibar International Film Festival, ZIFF
ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts), London
Women Make Waves Film Festival, Taiwan
Chapter Arts Cinema, Cardiff, Wales
Hawaii International Film Festival, (HIFF)
Films from the South Festival, Oslo, Norway
Cambridge African Film Festival, UK
Regent Park Film Festival, Toronto, Canada
International Women’s Film Festival in Seoul (IWFFIS), South Korea
Africa Diaspora Film Festival, (ADFF), New York, USA
CinemAfrica, Stockholm, Sweden
Africa on Screen Film Festival, South Africa
NatFilm Festival, Denmark
Ankara International Film festival, Turkey
Pink Apple Film festival, Zurich, Switzerland
Women’s film festival in Chennai, India
CINEMARKT Brunnenpassage in Vienna, Austria
Sunny Side of the Doc, France
FilmInitiativ Köln, Germany