By Arin Markarian
As the whistle blew in 2015 signaling the kick off for a new program throughout Armenia, many in the country were mind blown at the influx of growth and participation that the grassroots activities of GOALS would bring to fruition. With over 2000 youth participants and 450 educators across Armenia, GOALS continues to slide tackle those social inequality challenges that the country faces today, in particular with regards to the role of females in sport. Who would have thought that such a simple idea of encouraging girls to follow their sporting aspirations, with a vision for a world where every girl is empowered with equal opportunities, would lead to the amazing grassroots activity that GOALS conducts today.
Growing up and living in Australia, sport has always played an active role in breaking down barriers in ways that other areas of society have found difficult to address, by encouraging participation, integration and diversity. It has also played an important role in creating a fair environment of openness and respect between different individuals and groups, leading to enhanced understanding, cooperation and social cohesion within different communities. Whilst living in a famous sporting nation, I have seen the stories of success by both Australian men and women in achieving their dreams through sport. In Armenia, where sport is so often dominated by men, GOALS has done an outstanding job in using sport, particularly soccer, to break down the negative gender stereotypes and imagery associated with girls playing sport in Armenia.
GOALS has given opportunities for girls to be confident leaders, to be socially active and to engage in a lifestyle that shows benefits in health while changing those gender stereotypes.
This is why I am proud to support such a fantastic grassroots initiative that wants to play an active role in producing the next best female athletes recognised in Armenia, that wants to be a leader in affecting change, that wants to see positive energy spread throughout the nation. It is wonderful to see the number of projects that GOALS have been working on over these past two years, and how successful they have become. From the participation and the establishment of more women’s soccer leagues to the after-school clubs and summer camps, these projects are testament to the fantastic work that GOALS continues to do, and aligns with GOALS mission to support and empower youth to become leaders through safe environments, to give freedom to speak their minds and to challenge the social norms.
It is vital that the whistle does not blow full time anytime soon, and that partners across the globe continue to support GOALS in all of their future endeavours. From the Founders and the Board of Directors, to the CEO, Directors and Coordinators, through to the interns, volunteers, trainers and advisors, a round of applause and congratulations are in order for the brilliant work of GOALS over these past two years. I wish nothing but success for GOALS in creating a bright future filled with positive hopes and aspirations for all of the girls right across Armenia who continue to keep scoring goals and seek to make their dreams become a reality.