Meet Winnie Natasha, a 24-year-old law student at university of Juba, who is one of only two females among 300 members of South Sudan Kickboxing Association, dominated by men. Natasha started kickboxing several year ago, after she saw its advertisement on the television. Back then, she was the only female who tried training for kickboxing.
Despite the objections from her family and friends, as well as her minority status in the club, Natasha is adamant that kickboxing is the right choice for her. She insisted that there is nothing wrong with kickboxing, and that it is just like any other sport.
And although she faced challenges, Natasha said that she is driven to train harder because she desires to encourage women to participate not only in kickboxing but also in other sports. Additionally, she aims to be an ambassador of kickboxing someday.
Puro Okelo Obe founded the South Sudan Kickboxing Association in 2008. He aimed to use kickboxing to help end the tribal differences that often escalate into violence in South Sudan.
Obe never expected women to join the kickboxing association. But when Natasha and Adut Bol started training, he willingly welcomed them. His mindset is different from most Sudanese who think that doing sports is not for women.
Most Sudanese believe that playing sports can only make women violent, which can lessen the respect they receive from other people. However, Natasha may prove that this belief is not necessarily true as they have started to inspire more women to join the kickboxing association.