Lisa Heydlauff

Uplifting the Next Generation of Women Entrepreneurs Through Football and Academia with Lisa Heydlauff


This International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8, Lisa Heydlauff, CEO of ‘Going to School’, a creative non-profit organisation that aims to offer football training along with digital and life skills through integrated skills curricula to girls in government schools in Goa is highlighted for her contribution to the education of the girl child in India. Heydlauff shares insights into her initiative to uplift underprivileged girls by upskilling them, and what drove her to implement the Outdoor School for Girls programme in the state.

Equipping girls with the necessary skills to earn a living for themselves, especially by taking the entrepreneurial route that enables them to combat climate change, is UK-born Lisa Heydlauff’s passion. Her championing the education of the girl child in India, especially those from the underprivileged sections of society, is embodied in the form of ‘Going to School’, a Mumbai-based creative non-profit organisation that integrates football into the existing curriculum to teach girls in government schools digital, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), and sustainable entrepreneurial skills.

Heydlauff, who is the CEO of ‘Going to School’, as well as a TED Fellow, Ashoka Fellow, Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, started the ‘Going to School’ initiative with the intention of making design-driven stories to teach children entrepreneurial skills at school, online and on national television in India. 

“When I first came to India, I travelled around, writing stories about educational programmes across the country. During this process, I realised that the stories and project reports written were aimed at adults when instead, these stories should be written for children,” stated Heydlauff.

Stories for children need to be planned out carefully – they need to be original, emotional, unique, have a certain voice and be designed attractively, which Heydlauff thought was the best way to approach the transformation of the method in which children learn.

With the aim of filling in the gaps in the education system existing in government schools and mitigating the drop-out rate of female students across the country by using the essence of football philosophies like problem-solving, teamwork, leadership skills, overcoming obstacles and communication negotiation, Heydlauff strategically planned out the Going to School initiative and began its implementation in government schools in Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka and now, Goa.

“Through the power of these stories, specially crafted in local languages to resonate with the lifestyle of the communities in which these girls live, I envisioned ‘Going to School’ to enable children, especially the girl child, to imagine their potential and dare to make their dreams come true,” said Heydlauff enthusiastically.

Girls are encouraged to read original stories drafted by the ‘Going to School’ team while at school, then engage in group activities and prepare for their homework. When they exit the school premises, they begin doing their homework which entails gathering information from the areas they reside in, and return to school the next day where they are provided with laptops to put into action their digital-life skills and upload their research.

Recently, ‘Going to School’ signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Goa to implement The Outdoor School for Girls, an initiative of ‘Going to School’, across government schools in Goa from the fifth to the tenth grade, that is a blended sports-skills curriculum designed to equip girls with life skills learned through football, thereby offering them an incentive to continue pursuing their education.

“As part of The Outdoor School for Girls programme, the importance of the outdoors and the urgency of solving the climate crisis are highlighted through football, for which a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between Going to School and the Government of Goa. New skills are imbibed through play much quicker than by memorisation,” said Heydlauff. 

The ultimate goal of ‘Going to School’ is to ensure that girls are taught skills necessary to design sustainable enterprise solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change, simultaneously saving the world for future generations and enabling them to earn a living and Heydlauff aims to implement the “curriculum in 300 government schools when the next academic session commences, without alterations to the existing curriculum,” with plans to reach out to 2.7 million girls across India by 2027 – a real superwoman!