Retired Washington Spirit midfielder player Joanna Lohman shared her experience in Nigeria which she came to teach soccer skills to local girls as an empowerment and team-building tool against sex trafficking.
The trip was organized by Sports United, a United States State Department initiative which the US Soccer sends former US Women National Team members to foreign countries for players to use soccer as part of a larger educational framework addressing serious regional problems.
The programme was held in Lagos and Benin City also had former Super Falcons Goalkeeper, Precious Dede, was aimed at educating girls about human trafficking and giving them hope through football.
The estactic ex-midfielder shared her experience meeting with the Oba of Benin at his Palace as “a once in a lifetime experience that no words can properly describe.”
The girls were encouraged and also had a victim of sex trafficking talking to them about her experience and on the final day dribbling competition, the home school – Iyoba College won the gold medal.
After learning about football and its benefits, the students taught their coaches a few steps.
This is the 37 year old fourth African trip with Sports United as she had previously traveled to Botswana and Niger to empower young girls, and Ivory Coast helping young boys and girls learn concepts of reconciliation and working together following the country’s recent civil war.
Nigeria and Edo in particular are a major source of sex trafficking victims in Europe, according to an August 2019 Human Rights Watch report. Young girls are lured with promises of education, professional training and good-paying “house jobs” abroad, made to take dangerous journeys to Libya or Europe and then forced into sex work under the pretense of paying off thousands in “debt” for travelling costs.
These girls are subsequently pimped out, raped, impregnated, forced to get abortions in unsanitary conditions without pain medication or antibiotics, and are sometimes made to marry their abusers.