The “NOVA ŽENA” Association was founded in October 2014 with the aim of improving the position of women in rural areas through economic empowerment of women and through the inclusion of young girls in sports activities and social life of the community. In this way, about 120 girls participated in the project activities of cultural-sports and occasionally ecological character in the work of this organization. The NOVA ŽENA football team was formed for the first time through the activities of the global anti-discrimination campaign “Football People” in October 2016 (FARE network).
The president of this Association, Daliborka Nikolić, says about the work and activities of this non-governmental, non-party and non-profit organization:
“We do not compete in football leagues, but we build gender, social and ethnic equality in society through football, which is why team members are not charged with membership fees, and every year they are provided with free sports equipment through projects and donations. Our team includes girls from vulnerable categories of society. We perform at festivals and tournaments, organize workshops and other thematic events that focus on human rights, gender issues and the inclusion of vulnerable categories, and in this way, we teach young girls with tolerance, anti-discrimination and interethnic dialogue.”
Daliborka Nikolić points out that the inclusion of Roma women in football is one of the most important activities of the Association:
"The most important thing we have done so far regarding the inclusion of vulnerable categories in women’s football is the inclusion of Roma women in our team. We have included the municipalities of Vogošća and Ilijaš, and so far, we have been supported by UNDP, OSCE, UNFPA, UNICEF, the EU Delegation to B&H, FARE Network, Mediterranean Women’s Fund and other international organizations, foundations, networks and missions that recognize the importance of our work and encourage efforts to build social cohesion in small communities. The inclusion of Roma women in football is our biggest challenge so far, because they are the most vulnerable social category and as such they live on the margins of the social life of the community. So far, we have included 12 Roma girls in football, and as difficult as it is to include them in such activities, it is even harder to keep them, and now we have 4 Roma girls from the area of these two municipalities in the team. However, football has always connected people and we will use its potential to the full, in order to make positive changes in society and establish good sports practices that we want other sports organizations to follow.”
Nikolić says about plans for the future:
“This year, we are also starting with the inclusion of girls with intellectual disabilities. This target group will have less strenuous training, but together with other members of our NOVA ŽENA team, which now has 26 girls.”
In addition to regular training sessions and occasional matches, appearances at tournaments and festivals, the organization “NOVA ŽENA” began last year with psychosocial support programs for its members, given that almost all belong to the vulnerable category of the population, which was particularly negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Nikolić points out that the involvement of psychologists in working with vulnerable categories is necessary and urgent, and that it is just as important for mental health and well-being as physical activity.
The “NOVA ŽENA” is a representative example of a grassroots organization with a clearly defined strategy for the development of women and women’s football in small communities.