Kızlar Sahada - Women on the Field

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Kızlar Sahada - Women on the Field: Closing the Gender Gap TOGETHER One Kick at a Time!

Istanbul, TurkeyIstanbul, Turkey
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Kızlar Sahada is an amateur soccer festival catering to women of all ages. The aim is to empower women through team spirit and inspire stories of transformation on the field. In the past three years we had 1920 women playing soccer for the first time in their lives.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if the world's most beloved game with over 3 billion fans across the globe was used as a tool to exchange gender roles and created the gateway for a world with gender equality?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Gender Gap report listed Turkey as 124th of 135 countries for gender equality. In a country of 73 million, that results in millions of fewer girls being sent to school, high childhood pregnancy and low labor force participation. On the other hand, 83 men out of a 100 in Turkey say that women should have equal rights as men. This begs the question of how we can take advantage of this support to create a society with equality at its core together.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Kızlar Sahada is an amateur soccer tournament that takes place every May in Istanbul, Turkey over three weekends. The categories are Corporate Cup, Build Your Own Team and Youth Cup. Following every team inquiry through the website, a Kızlar Sahada representative meets and takes the team through a training. At this training, team members identify support circles they need to build to succeed at the tournament: building team-spirit, finding a trainer, creating a fan base. 98% of trainers are men and 96% of teams say their partners attend as audience. Kızlar Sahada awards Most Spirited Fans, Fair-Play, Most Creative Banner and Strongest Team Spirit to encourage this work. All audience revenues are donated to Fathers' Education Programme.


Finalist at the Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 (Garanti Bank - KAGIDER Joint Award)
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Sevgi Kapan is an After Sales Services Manager at a large technology retailer. When she received the company's email on Kızlar Sahada, she was disappointed. Soccer? She had never played soccer before. Besides, her husband did not like the idea at all and friends made fun of her. However, she felt she disregarded her working-mom-body way too much and had to sign up just because it was an opportunity to move. What happened in the aftermath her family will always remember with a smile. Her little son became an ardent fan at the field who could not kept on believe that it was his mother playing soccer this time. Her husband turned into a hooligan. She says she got out of her comfort zone to experience that it is OK to try things that she wants.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Since its foundation in 2013, Kızlar Sahada had 1920 participants from whom 95% have never played soccer before. The events were attended by more than 5.000 spectators of whom more than 10% were children between the ages of 0-6. All audience revenues, a total of $9136 in three years, were donated to charity. 89% of all participating women had fun playing soccer; 85% said they experienced team spirit and 73% said they felt through this project that women can do anything including soccer. 50% of all participants continue to play soccer or exercise even after the tournament. We believe that the real impact lies in the power of metaphor that Kızlar Sahada creates. Women take the field; men support them both on and off the field in this adventure. We believe that breaking this barrier together on the field, in a protected environment, gives way to replicating it off the field much easier.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

The idea is to make Kızlar Sahada's main message the norm throughout Turkey. Thus, the next step going forward is to take the concept outside Istanbul. Last year we failed to build teams in Izmir and Ankara albeit a big time and financial investment in visiting and pitching in these cities. We think that our strategy of visiting and talking to Human Resources of corporates only was the reason to the failure to build teams. We will try again this year with a different strategy. The idea this year is to actually talk to women and organize mini-events to let them experience Kızlar Sahada.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Currently, Kızlar Sahada is financially sustainable with the fees of corporate teams joining the Corporate Cup category. However, their contributions only bring the project to break-even. The challenge to make profit and then, re-invest that into the off-Istanbul projects remain. This year we made an agreement with Turkey's biggest sports sponsorship agency to help us find sponsors that will help bring the project forward.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

While there are no immediate sports- or soccer-organizations that aspire to empower women through team-spirit, there are similar models that approach Women's Issues from different angles. B-Fit, an initiative by an Ashoka fellow Bedriye Hulya, has 220 sports centers throughout Turkey catering to women only, founded by women-entrepreneurs. Bu Kızlar Nereye Koşuyor, a running team for women only, has over 5000 members and inspires women to exercise. Kızlar Sahada differs from both projects in that it uses the most popular sport in Turkey as a tool to bring together both genders to empower women.

Founding Story

Year 2012: I was 26- just starting as an entrepreneur. Following surprising events, one night I found myself playing soccer. That game changed my life. Throughout life I was scared to death to look like I was ambitious or passionate. Because then people would not love me. They would think that I was greedy; a cold-hearted, stubborn bitch. When you are part of a team it is OK to be eager to win. Because it is not for yourself. It is for the team. That night I went home and felt invincible even though we lost 6-2 because I gave a 100% on that field. I promised to myself to offer this platform to other women. They might not have the same experience but they would be transformed through it.


Kızlar Sahada has 82 registered volunteers who support us at the organization of the tournament. These are retired referees, high-school and university students and corporate employees whose firms are participating at the event. Kızlar Sahada has a Board of Supporters who are volunteers. Ahmet Güvener - Head of Refereeing Board of Turkey (2008-2011) - Supports Kızlar Sahada in finding the right referees and oversees all sports-related technicalities. Jessica O'Rourke - Professional Soccer Player (2006-2012); Sports Executive as Koza World of Sports (Since 2012) - Supports on-site to resolve sports-related conflicts. Sema Kasapoğlu - Founder of Çim Filizleri (Project for Grassroots Soccer for Girls, 2011) and Director in the Olympic Committee - Supports to find the right teams and sponsors for the tournament. Prof. Dr. Acar Baltas - Consultant to the National Team - Supports in creating content for training the teams. Melek Pulatkonak - Founder of Turkish WIN, an international network for women's sisterhood - Spreads the word of Kızlar Sahada through the network. There are two full-time employees and two part-time interns of Kızlar Sahada. Gizem - Masters in Marketing; working on the project since 2014. She focuses on Sales & Marketing of the project. Ecem - BA in Sociology with a focus on Women's Studies; working on the project since 2014. She focuses on the Content Management and Operations. Mert & Tilbe - Both students in Social Sciences; working on the project since 2015. Both focus on Team Management.