At Save the Dream, we believe in the power of sport as a valuable tool to empower youth, particularly young women in developing countries. Sport can provide valuable opportunities to enhance access to education and opportunity, as well as contribute to improved wellbeing, health, inclusion and active participation in society.

This is why, in 2015, we chose to partner with Aston Villa Football Club, to transform the lives of young women in India through football. An emerging country that has made strides in socio-economic development, India still struggles with gender inequity. According to the United Nations Human Development Report of March 2013, India ranks second only to Afghanistan at the bottom of the gender index in South Asia. The latest UNDP report ranks India 136th out of 186 countries in terms of gender equality.

Alongside Aston Villa’s ‘Villa in the Community’ programme and the Center for Equality and Inclusion (CEQUIN) in India, the “Delhi Dreams” initiative seeks to use sport as the primary means of engagement to promote gender equality, by bringing young women on to a level playing field.

A first-of-its-kind tournament which brought together girls from elite schools and underprivileged areas of Delhi, “Delhi Dreams” was designed to initiate a dialogue to shift perceptions and change prevalent attitudes towards women’s participation in sport and society. 11 girl’s teams turned out for the four-day tournament and two outstanding players, Pratibha and Aveka, were invited to train with Villa’s U13s and U15s girl’s teams in April.

Through small steps like these, we are confident that we can contribute to helping young people push the boundaries of the possible, and continue to chase their dreams.

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