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kick mit: Building Confidence in Austrian Girls and Women

Beyond Sport X Under Armour Participant Spotlight

October 20, 2023 

With the expansion of our #SportForSocialChange retail donation campaign in partnership with Under Armour to Austria, the Netherlands and Portugal, we’re spotlighting the participating charities that are using sport to inspire and teach valuable lessons to youth. Today, meet kick mit, which is empowering and building self-confidence in girls and young women in Austria. 

793,000 people from other European countries live in Austria, representing 52% of all citizens in the country. Research shows that a quarter of migrants face difficulties in finding suitable jobs and around 8% of foreign-born employed people feel discriminated against in their current jobs. The main obstacles to employment are a lack of German language skills and overall education levels. 

Of the Austrian population, around 1.5 million people are at risk of poverty and marginalisation. According to an SDG Watch Europe report, women are more at risk of poverty than men and a quarter of the population are impoverished children. These children tend to be from families that are unemployed or immigrants, the groups that are most left behind and underrepresented.

The report also states that structural causes of inequality in Austria are strongly linked to education and employment, disadvantaging women and minorities the most. Although young Austrian women have a better education than their male peers, women earn 23% less than men and own around 40% less private wealth than comparable male single households.

kick it 

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Based in Vienna, kick mit works to strengthen young girls and women in a male-dominated world and advance gender equality. Through football, it intends to break traditional gender roles for girls and women. Additionally, it works with social workers, women training staff and psychologists to empower girls and young women in sports and with their personal development. The organisation operates in various cities across Austria, including Salzburg, Vorarlberg and Lower Austria. It currently serves around 600 girls up to the age of 16 and 81 young women over the age of 16. Kick mit’s work particularly aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, Gender Equality. 

We spoke to Project Manager, Michaela Portele, who shared that the top challenge girls and young women face in the country is inequality. “Football is perceived as a ‘male sport’ in Europe, so many girls have fewer opportunities to play football outside of the programs we provide without being faced with barriers. Most of the young people we serve are immigrants or migrants, or they have a disability, and a majority come from low socio-economic backgrounds. This exposes them to further barriers to accessing sports and play. We want to reduce these barriers so that every girl has the chance to try out a great sport in a protected environment and thrive.” 

kick mit focuses on participants from underserved backgrounds, providing the access, fairness and equal opportunities they lack. “There are many different opportunities for leisure, education and sport within the country. However, many of these offerings are reserved for those who are wealthy or those who adhere to society stereotypes,” explains Portele. “All those people who deviate from that stereotype encounter barriers that are difficult to overcome. Our view of society is that of a colourful whole. Every human is unique with strengths and weaknesses, and this is what makes life worth living. But that is only possible if everyone has similar opportunities. At the moment, this is still the exception to the norm. We want to make a colourful community a little more mainstream.” 

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The organisation’s projects and programming are based on movement, education, integration, recognition, sustainable development and empowerment. It provides a barrier-free platform for girls and young women to play football and interact with positive role models to help foster self-confidence. Its many offerings include school football workshops, girls’ soccer clubs and targeted training and further education giving young women the opportunity to train as coaches. 

In collaboration with training partner, the ‘Be in Motion’ association, kick mit offers women coaching positions for girls’ soccer in schools across Austria. It also provides training centred on ‘football with a social-educational focus’, with the intention for women to gain the right skills to support girls’ social and personal development through the sport. This focus is particularly important for the organisation, as they see football as an excellent entry point to learning mathematics, reading, writing and more – all of which can be incorporated into football sessions in a fun and interactive way.

kick mit also intends to break barriers of exclusion and language with its programming to foster integration. One participant shared that “girls can also play football. We all have something in common during these workshops and you don’t have to know German. We teach each other. In football, you don’t need a language, just your feet.” 

Portele shares that football provides girls with a sense of freedom and a chance to claim independence. “Women are underrepresented in this sport compared to men, both as coaches and instructors, as well as at the level of officials and active athletes. Football and many other ball-based sports are characterised by performance, fighting spirit and endurance. These attributes don’t correspond to the ‘classic’ role model of women in the country. Skills that are acquired from playing sport such as self-confidence, team spirit, empathy, critical thinking and problem-solving are important life skills that girls and women shouldn’t miss out on.” 

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Alongside football, kick mit targets vocational training and further education to make sure its programming is sustainable. It believes in living the motto of learning and growing together. Therefore, the organisation makes sure to share its knowledge, best practices and vision of accessibility with others. 

With funds raised from the Beyond Sport X Under Armour campaign and seed funding provided by the retailer, kick mit will strengthen its coaches training and offerings in more schools. Additionally, to keep up with the many requests for it to expand programming, the funds will also support workshops and projects in other locations. 

“We have many requests from schools and clubs at our locations as well as requests from areas that are not yet connected to our project. We would like to offer more high-quality training for our employees and the possibility of further education. They are often confronted with difficult situations and we would like to give them tools to deal with them. Through the funding, we can expand our program geographically and in terms of content. It's difficult for us to turn down these requests because it shows us how much the girls and our employees identify with kick mit,” says Portele. 

Learn more about the incredible organisations we're working to support in the UK and Europe HERE. If you live in Austria, please consider visiting your local Under Armour store to support #SportforSocialChange! 


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