During the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, Malala Fund is highlighting young female athletes who defy convention on and off the field. These young women are not only champions in their chosen sports, but also champions of social justice.

Female athletes receive only 4% of all sports media coverage, their accomplishments often not getting the recognition they deserve . Many girls hoping to participate in sports are limited by gender bias or lack of funding.

In Brazil’s favelas — where violence and poverty are rampant — football provides an escape for a group of young women. Favela Street offers a program for youngsters to become independent football trainers inside their own neighbourhoods by attaining the expertise to self-organize activities for their communities.

Once a week, Rebecca, Dryka and Jessica play football in the only space in their community that is off limits to drugs and gang fights. On the pitch they shoot goals, support each other and create a safe space for girls to realise their potential.

Malala Fund caught up with Favela Street members Rebeca, Jessica & Dryka to talk about what the program has meant to them. Check out the full piece here and find info on the Patta x Umbro x Favela Street jerseys here.

Photography by Sabine van Wechem