Today we had the honor of visiting our Emerging Leader Tilabilenji from Zambia up in windy Chicago. She’s been matched with Gatorade and has been learning abut their marketing and product line. We loved being able to explore the city with her, taking pictures with her at the “Cloud” and arriving at the shoreline.
Tilabilenji grew up in Zambia in a very athletic household. Her father played soccer and her mother played netball. “From an early age, I had no choice but to love sports!”
Unfortunately, most girls in her community are discouraged from playing sports. “Girls are supposed to have chores, like helping their mother cook, clean, wash dishes, and look after other children. They are supposed to ‘do what a woman is made to do.’” In addition to a lack of sports opportunities, girls are often required to drop out of school to help around the house. In Zambia, school costs money. Not everyone in the family gets to go and more often than not, it is the girl child who is asked to stay home.
Tilabilenji is trying desperately to reach the girls of her community through sports programming. Currently, she is the Site Coordinator for Sport in Action, an NGO that uses sport to teach life skills and educate individuals living with HIV. In addition to her position with Sport in Action, she also coaches the 16-and-under co-ed Volleyball National Team.
Tilabilenji wants to use her positions as coach and as site coordinator to increase the number of women and girls playing sports in her local community and to empower them to make smarter decisions with their bodies. Gatorade’s expertise in promoting relevant social messages through sports camps will help Tilabilenji accomplish her dreams for girls in her local community.