Among the many ways that SOS Children’s Villages develops and empowers children and young people around the world, playing football is one of the most widespread across every region.
Almost every SOS Children’s Village has a football field inside it or close by, where children play while learning about teamwork and values.
As the 2018 World Cup gets underway in Russia, we are showcasing the footballing achievements of talented young people who live in or grew up in an SOS Children’s Village, starting with Hasnaa from Morocco.
Since her early childhood, Hasnaa had a real passion for sports, and for running and football in particular. At the age of nine, she started playing football with the boys living in the SOS Children’s Village of El Jadida and at school. However, a particular day at the beach was the beginning of a new life for her.
“On a summer’s day, when I was 14, I was playing beach football with my friends, when a lady from El Jadida City football team noticed me. She loved my playing techniques and followed me after the game to get more information. She then came to my SOS Children’s Village to offer me a spot on the women's junior football team of El Jadida,” says Hasnaa.
Hasnaa’s football career started with the El Jadida team where she played for two years, receiving professional training and playing friendly matches against local teams of different cities.
Making a profession out of her passion
The young girl’s experience with the local team of El Jadida was only the beginning of a bright journey. In 2016, while she was playing a football match with her local team, Hasnaa was noticed once again, this time by a staff member of the Association Sportive des Forces Armées Royales (FAR), which is considered one of the most successful and prestigious football teams in Morocco.
Because of her talent and determination, Hasnaa was accepted into the team’s football academy and moved to live in Rabat where the academy is located.
As she often has games over weekends, Hasnaa cannot see her SOS family regularly. However, she never misses calling them to tell them about her achievements.
When she calls her mother, she says: “I scored a goal for you mom.” Whenever she has a free weekend, she goes home to the El Jadida Children’s Village.
Football is inevitably the main subject of every conversation she has with her siblings. Sometimes they argue about whether Real Madrid is the best team in the Spanish league or FC Barcelona, but they all agree that the best football player is their older sister.
Besides playing with FAR, the 18-year-old is also part of the national girls’ football team of Morocco: “I was selected for the national team and participated in several matches like Africa Cup qualification matches and benefited from football clinics,” she says.
Hasnaa's schedule is now divided between her studies and football. Her boarding school at the academy has an agreement with one of the high schools nearby to adapt the students’ schedules to their training sessions.
She now aspires to play with the adult national football team and to become a professional, international football player. The young champion is living her childhood dream.
Photographer: Lydia Mantler.