Rose loved soccer. In Kibera, Kenya, however, girls didn't get to play. Abdul loved soccer too, and his grandmother taught him that girls deserve to learn and play, too. When he saw the boys keeping the soccer ball away from the girls, he got an idea.
Entire communities do better when girls thrive. Based on a true story, Remarkable Rose follows Rose and Abdul as they remind us of the importance of creating communities like Kibera Girls Soccer Academy that unleash a girl's freedom to be
Then, one day, they beat the boys. Their confidence grew immediately, and they entered into bigger Nairobi tournaments. They didn’t have fancy jerseys, nice fields, or big buses like some of their opponents. Yet undaunted, with the help of Rose’s biting penalty kicks, the Kibera girls started winning those games, too.
Rose used her soccer skills to change people’s minds about what girls could do. That gave her and her teammates the audacity to dream bigger. They wanted to go to school. Few families in Kibera could afford high school tuition, and if they could only send one child, families often chose to send a boy.
In 2006, Abdul opened Kibera Girls Soccer Academy (KGSA) for his soccer players. What started out as an informal school for the team quickly became a two-story building with 130 students. They offered opportunities in other sports as well as after school clubs for the girls who didn’t play soccer, but the soccer program continued to be a huge contributor to KGSA’s success. Rose was part of KGSA’s inaugural class.
Rose worked hard in school and continued to thrive in soccer. In 2011, Abdul invited both Zainab Khamis (“Commando”) and Rose to try out for the Kenyan Homeless World Cup Team. It was the first time Kenya sent a women’s team. After a rigorous tryout, both girls were selected for the team. They flew to Paris, France to compete. “They have two legs. We have two legs,” Rose reminded her nervous teammates. “Let’s go play.” And they did. They beat France, the Netherlands, the United States, and Brazil. The girls from Kenya impressed everyone. In the championship game against Mexico, Rose scored the fourth and deciding goal. The Kenyan women won the 2011 Homeless World Cup.
KGSA continues to thrive offering free high school education, nutrition, health care, extracurricular activities and leadership initiatives to 130+ girls every year. The school supports graduates with college scholarships and recently opened a dormitory with a turf soccer pitch on the roof. KGSA is working to break the cycle of poverty for the girls and their families, empowering them to become stronger, more independent and resilient women.
In 2019, KGSA's senior soccer team made it to the Kenyan Women's Premier League. Rose was the captain of the team.
Rose continues to be instrumental in creating a stronger, more resilient Kibera. She works hard so that her two daughters have a stable childhood and know that they, too, are remarkable.
Kibera Girls Soccer Academy
Kibera Girls Soccer Academy (KGSA) provides a free, holistic high school education to 150 girls in Kibera, Kenya. The school emphasizes leadership and character development through extracurricular activities and employs university- trained teachers, setting it apart from other schools in Kibera.
Kibera is the largest informal settlement in Africa. It is a diverse and vibrant community full of caring and hardworking individuals and families. However, Kibera faces many challenges including high unemployment, poverty, overcrowding, and insecurity. It is underserved by health, education, and sanitation services and many homes do not have reliable access to water and electricity.
Kibera’s schools face overcrowding, undereducated teachers, and high teacher attrition, The schools lack the resources to provide necessities including school lunch, water, and sanitary pads. Due to high costs of school fees and materials, many students cannot afford to go to school. For the few families that can afford to send their children to school, young boys and men take priority over girls and women.
Through financial and technical resources, the KGSA Foundation supports KGSA’s academic programming in addition to nutrition, health care, extra-curricular and leadership initiatives along with higher education scholarships for graduates to unlock potential, expand opportunities, and enable each girl with the ability to shape her future.
About the Author
Ellie Roscher was taken by Rose's story right away when she heard it while teaching a gender equity unit to high schoolers in 2010. She traveled to Kenya in 2012 and 2013 to interview Rose and the other students at KGSA, which became the book Play Like a Girl.
Ellie is also the author of The Embodied Path, 12 Tiny Things, and How Coffee Saved My Life. She holds an MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in theology from Luther Seminary. She teaches writing, yoga, and embodiment in Minneapolis and online.
About the Illustrator
Lily Banning is a visual artist whose varied portfolio includes oil paintings, illustrations, public murals and textiles. She is an alumna of Washington DC’s 202Creates residency program and was a featured panelist at the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium in 2017.
Her work has been exhibited at the Hill Center Gallery, Watergate Gallery and Torpedo Factory in the Washington, D.C. area and Universita’ Ca’ Foscari in Venice, Italy. Lily lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and pup.