2020 Photo Contest, Sports, 2nd Prize

The Gouandé Gazelles


Olivier Papegnies

24 February, 2019

The Dassari football team arrive in Gouandé by bush taxi to play their first game of the season, against the Gazelles de Gouandé, on 24 February.

The Gazelles de Gouandé from Gouandé village in northern Benin is one of 16 football teams set up across the country with the aim of giving young women more control over their futures through sport. The project, established by the Plan International organization, aims to empower women by promoting self-confidence, widening educational opportunities, and through advocacy against early marriage. Following the 2019 Women’s World Cup, there was an international surge of interest in women’s football, and projects like the one in Benin can be seen as part of a wider view of the power of sport to unify and spread social awareness. In January 2019, Benin hosted a delegation from FIFA, football’s international governing body, aimed at supporting a new sports strategy in schools, and Beninese president Patrice Talon announced plans for four new football schools, including one for women.

About the photographer

Olivier Papegnies

Born in 1970 in Belgium, Olivier Papegnies lives and works as a photojournalist in Brussels.  Since becoming a photojournalist in 1997, his reports have been published by...

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