• Name: Kadiatou Ballo
• Age: 18 years old
• Lives in: Bamako, Mali
When she was in grade six, social pressures forced Kadiatou Ballo to give up school. Now 18-years-old and engaged to be married, Kadiatou got involved with Right To Play’s Youth As Leader program in 2008. Today she reflects on how sport and play have helped her push past society’s expectation for a young woman in Mali, and start shooting for the… hoop.
“I am a living example of Right To Play activities’ impact, because when I was forced to give up my studies, I was wandering in the street. But once I started to participate to Right to Play, my life was redirected and meaningful … My participation in sport and play activities through Right To Play has enabled me to increase my cooperation and leadership skills and to develop friendships with other people … That is how I decided to become a famous basketball player to better make a profit from my height.”
Standing tall in more ways than one, Kadiatou is a member of Mali’s Junior National Basketball Team and hopes to one day play for the Senior National Team, and while being a girl may have held her back in society before, today Kadiatou finds strength and determination in her gender.
“To be a girl means for me: Having positives ambitions for life, feeling free to participate and share my opinions with others without any difference related to my sex, because I can do everything as well as boys even more than them if I am given the opportunity," said Ballo.
“Girls should team up and act as agents of change, and get more involved in social life activities by addressing issues negatively affecting their respective communities.“
What is your favourite part about being a girl/woman?
“I really like the courage that women and girls bear…”
What is a favorite memory from your childhood about how play made you feel?
“When I was a child, I use to play with my family and sometimes at school. I enjoyed those times and had fun. However, those activities were restrictive, because only girls could play among themselves … there were activities specially designed for girls and some for boys only. Sometimes, I use to play football with my brother in the backyard, so I am used to being scolded by my mother because of that! Now, things are changing and I hope to see all of my sisters get involved in sport and play.”