The pre-release screening* of
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Bernal Branch Library, SFPL
500 Cortland Avenue
Seating is limited. Reserve your place by March 20, 2017
On an island where religion bars women from playing soccer, the Queens resist cultural norms and challenge local assumptions about Islam and gender identity. The film explores the history and character of the team, and the evolving perception of women in sports on the island. When the Queens qualify for the Copa Coca Cola tournament on mainland Tanzania for the first time, they have the opportunity to compete in front of scouts for Tanzania’s national team and gain new perspective on their experience in Zanzibar. The players return home after the tournament hopeful about the future, and determined to share their message that one can be a woman, a Muslim, and a soccer player.
I first met the New Generation Queens when I traveled to Zanzibar for work in 2011. Fields dot the island, and every day I would see Zanzibaris playing on them, as well as on beaches, school grounds and in alleyways. Within hours of arriving in Zanzibar I had seen tens of soccer fields, but no women playing. I began to ask whether women played soccer in Zanzibar, and although most people would shake their heads and say no, every now and then someone would tell me, “Yes! There is a team.” Eventually I found the New Generation Queens, sharing a field with a men’s team and practicing outside the Zanzibar prison grounds. I laced up my cleats and joined them.
Sport is a powerful connector. Through soccer, I came to know more about Zanzibar and its culture than I had thought possible. I also got to know the girls on the New Generation Queens and I was quickly impressed with their tenacity and commitment. These girls are truly badass. For the New Generation Queens, playing soccer is not just a casual sport. Though Islam itself does not forbid women from playing soccer, many Zanzibaris interpret women’s soccer as “immoral” on religious grounds. For this reason, the New Generation Queens face opposition from their families and communities. Yet the Queens defy the odds to participate. It is one of the few places where they can truly embrace their strength as women. They want to prove to the rest of the island that they can be women, athletes and Muslims
*Available on Amazon, GooglePlay, VUVU & Vimeo on Demand, March 28