Zanzibar Soccer Queens’ (2007) and its Impact on Civil Society and Cultural Life in Africa and Europe


Description of impact

The different impacts include cultural, social and policy impacts.

How did your research contribute?

The numerous national and international screenings of ‘Zanzibar Soccer Queens’ helped to transform the social status of this marginalised group of women; building personal confidence and emancipation of the players of Women Fighters' football team. This has improved the women’s image and identity, especially societal acceptance of women’s football in Zanzibar where they had previously faced discrimination, prejudice and verbal abuse.

In 2009, the players of Women Fighters’ team was invited to Potsdam, Germany, as a result of numerous screenings of Zanzibar Soccer Queens at international film festivals. Their journey to Germany positively influenced social attitudes about woman in general and women’s football players in particular in this predominantly Muslim society where some people still frown upon women exposing parts of their bodies.

The women’s visit to Germany created a buzz in Zanzibar. More importantly, their visit has had positive impacts on many levels: increased exposure of the players to wider audiences at home and abroad; redefined their social status; the government has recognised the value of what the women do, and the players were seen as cultural and football ‘ambassadors’ for their country during the visit.

Their exposure through the documentary film, has helped to change societal attitudes and also create a better understanding of the women who were once regarded as ‘hooligans’. Thus, the team has gone from being marginalised ‘football hooligans’ to becoming valued ambassadors for Zanzibar.

The most impact that could have a lasting legacy for the benefit of all women and the development of women’s football is the change in government policy to allow Muslim Schoolgirls in Zanzibar to participate in football practice as part of physical education. Previously, only schoolboys were allowed to play football as part of physical education.
On a much broader societal level, the participation of girls and young women in football has increased.

Who is affected?

The Women Football Players, Parents, Government Officials and decision-makers, Schoolgirls, film audiences at home in Zanzibar and abroad