August, 2014

now browsing by month

Posted by: | Posted on: August 13, 2014


Posted by: | Posted on: August 9, 2014

Global Peace Games

Flanders Peace Field logo_200The Global Peace Games features schools from Belgium, England and Germany. Hosted by the Peace Village, Messines, Belgium, the week long EU funded event, 16th September, 2014, is inspired by the Christmas Truces.  The NCFA will be supporting four schools from England taking part in a series of activities including: football, rugby, cricket and cycling.   Pending funding it is hoped that the GPGs will link up with the Peace Fields Project, celebrating peace and commemorating the First World War.

In more than 40 countries, they are already a tradition: the Global Peace Games (GPG). An initiative from the United Nations to attract attention on peace initiatives through sports.

peacevillage_200Starting from 2014, Peace Village wants to start an annual Flemish edition on the Flanders Peace Field in Messines, next to the place were football was played 100 years ago, during the “Christmas Truces”. Our target group are youngsters from countries who participated in the Great War. The peaceful nature of this site, located in the shadow of the Peace Tower and overlooking the Douve valley, gives this event an international appearance.

Flanders Peace Field

Flanders Peace Field, the educational sister of the Peace Village hostel, in Messines wants to remember the 100th anniversary of the Christmas Truces to offer international projects concerning peace and sport. During the Christmas Truces of 1914, soldiers came out of their trenches to play a game of football against each other on the field of No Man’s land. The senior officers had many difficulties to shut down the Truces and to convince the soldiers to start fighting again.

This extraordinary event shows the power of football and sport, even in times of war. And this is what Flanders Peace Field wants to promote. And bring youngsters from different countries together, learn from the past, play sports together that leads to  peace education and community building.

Global Peace Games

The Global Peace Games for Children and Youth (GPGs) – founded by PLAY SOCCER Non profit International (PSNI) in 2001 – is the first global “grass-roots” event to celebrate the contribution of children and youth to the achievement of the United Nations goals for peace, non-violence and human development, and to unite their voices and support through the universal language of sport. Locally organized and financed by grass-roots communities, the Games feature friendly sporting events and football/soccer matches that give children and youth an opportunity to lead and personally commit to global friendship and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Thanks to the joyful, global digital network that children and youth now use to connect to each other across the world, the impact and success of the GPGs continues to grow every year. In 2013, the Games were celebrated – and digitally shared – by thousands of children and youth in 35 countries across 6 continents. Fuelled by a wellspring of support from hundreds of volunteer and civil society organizations committed to peace education, the GPGs are free and open to all. Connecting and uniting children and youth from places as diverse as the Palestinian Occupied Territories to California and the rural communities of Kenya, the GPGs provide a low-cost “grass-roots” organizing structure that empowers local organizations, brings communities into the global media spotlight, and engages children and youth to place collaborative, peaceful values at the heart of both the local and global agenda.

Individual countries often dedicate their games to themes that advance the objectives of the United Nations, and enliven them with both traditional and innovative educational performances of music, art,dance and poetry.

To forge links among the participating children and youth, PLAY SOCCER encourages three common core actions wherever the Games are held:

1. Signing the Nobel Laureates’ Manifesto for A Culture of Peace & Nonviolence

2. Reading Special Messages from the UN Office of Sport for Development & Peace, and other leading organizations such as FIFA

3. Giving the Handshake of Friendship 

PSNI is proud to have provided international leadership for the Games by distributing invitations and instructions for participation and by producing the Annual Certificate of Participation and Report, which is posted on our website. The Games would not be possible, however, without the inspirational leadership of our grassroots partners – the many organizations, schools and individuals who work tirelessly to bring the Games to their communities. This report includes a list of all registered organizations, summaries of their reports, and photos selected from the many wonderful pictures sent. All the photos contained in this report are the property of these organizations.

Flanders Peace Field & Global Peace Games


This project came to a close starting from the story of the Christmas Truces and WWI. By organizing this under the name of the Global Peace Games, this event gets an international dimension and is it also in conformity with the norms and values ​​set by the United Nations.

Message for peace

During this 5 day program of sport, games, education and remembrance, we want the pupils to re-experience how to overcome conflict through sports and dialogue. It is like a tribute to the young people / soldiers who fought during WWI. 100 years later, instead of fighting, we play sports and reflect on what happened back then. In addition, we also want to make the connection to the contemporary conflicts (large and small) in our society, both within and outside Europe.

We also want to consider the role that sport can have in this type of conflict. Overall, we want to stimulate/ strengthen the thinking process on micro-level from the participating youth. The overall ambition is related to the statement that we want to make. A statement we will develop during the 5 days, together with the pupils. We aspire to advance something more concrete than ‘no more war’. But the project itself is also a statement: 100 years later we prefer playing sports together than to fight each other with guns. That is our “message for peace”.


The common thread throughout this event is sport. Each school will represent sport popular in their country. The UK will represent rugby, Germany football and Belgium cycling.

In addition, and in collaboration with the Belgian Cricket Federeation, a fourth sport will be added: Cricket. Cricket is, next to football, the biggest sport played in the world, but in our cultures relatively unknown. Together with professional cricket players, the pupils will learn all about this sport.


The participants are young people who attend school in the Fourth and Fifth Form (age equivalent: 14-16). The participating nationalities are the countries that were most present during WWI on our Belgian soil, namely: British, Germans and Belgians.


As this is an international event, with youngsters from three different countries, we are happy to announce one German and one British organisation are willing to be our partner for this event. Here a brief presentation:

German partner: 1914 Mitten in Europa

“1914 Mitten in Europa” is project of the local authority of the Rhineland (Landschaftsverband Rheinland) for the commemoration of World War I and the communication of the history of the time of the Great War.

The project involves many exhibitions and educational projects. In one of the educational projects – “Searching for traces of 1914” – students from Belgium, France, Poland and Germany researched on the history of World War I and created a virtual and several analogue exhibitions. During the project the students met in Messines and visited the sites of World War I in Flanders.

British partner: National Children’s Football Alliance

NCFA_Football_Peace_Poppy_200NCFA seeks to protect children and to secure the most enjoyable, developmental and child-centred football experience when they play. NCFA create playing environments and formats which allow all children to reach their full potential in football and play the game without prejudice. NCFA eliminates factors which cause boys and girls to drop out of football and they promote football for fun throughout childhood.  Ultimately, the NCFA’s aim is to protect childhood through football.

The NCFA’s extended children’s focused organisations form a vital network of partnerships sharing best practice in all stages of childhood. The NCFA will be accessible to all communities seeking advice on the children’s game.

Globally, children contribute immeasurably to the game of football’€¦as players, as fans, as workers and in many other ways. Without doubt, the power of football to be an influential and dominant force for good in the daily lives of children worldwide is enormous.

Three GPG logos

Posted by: | Posted on: August 9, 2014

The Magic of the Ball

Interview with Mark Burke author of, ‘A Different Kind of Soccer Bookfrom a refreshingly different kind of professional soccer player.

 So, Mark, tell us about yourself!  For those of us that are not so mature, Who are you?

MB. I am a fully qualified soccer coach, now based in Holland, and I also a scout for Middleborough FC.

I began my career at Aston Villa, turning professional in February 1987. I was sold on to Middlesbrough for £50,000 in December 1987, and played for Fourth Division champions Darlington on loan in October 1990. I was transferred to Wolverhampton Wanderers for a £25,000 fee in March 1991, before playing on loan at Luton Town in March 1994. I signed with Port Vale in August 1994, before moving on to Fortuna Sittard the following year. I joined Omiya Ardija in 1999, before signing with TOP Oss via Rapid Bucharest and IF Brommapojkarna in 2001, helping the latter to the Division 2 Östra Svealand title.

BUT NOW, I’m an author.  I’ve written the book A Different Kind of Soccer Book, available from the National Children’s Football Alliance, in order to educate young players and their coaches about learning and developing soccer skills in a whole new way.

What’s makes this book A Different Kind of Soccer Book?

Mark Burke, 'A Different Kid of Soccer Book' for a different kind of soccer player.

Mark Burke, ‘A Different Kid of Soccer Book’ for a different kind of soccer player.

MB.  Well, for too long, soccer books and coaching titles have rolled out a series of rules and declarations about how to play the game, how to get caught up in complex rules and theories, that do nothing but take the focus away from what soccer is really about – the football itself.

In this book, we focus on Tactics, Technique, and Confidence, but we do that with simple ideas and mantras; no big complicated diagrams, no immense strategies, and no over cooked nonsense.  We get back to basics in my book.

And why should people listen to you with this Different Kind of Soccer Book?

I’ve written this book based upon my experiences coaching, and seeing how so many younger players and talents are put off because they do not get the right inspiration and guidance.  This book is long overdue and I can promise readers, is nothing like anything they’ve read before!

But it’s not just my opinions and me; this book is supported by Rene Muelensteen, formerly of Manchester United, Simon Kuper at the Financial Times, and I even have a full interview with Sven Goran Ericsson in the book. Sven is a internationally renowned manager, so I think it’s obvious why people should listen to him!

So what will readers get with this book?

MB. The book is available via a direct link from the National Children’s’ Football Alliance website, as an eBook.  It’s an eBook so that readers can follow links to online resources, and they can look up live the ideas or the games that I make reference to.  It’s a very engaging way to read or to be taught about soccer.

More importantly though, readers get three clear sections, on Technique, Tactics, and Confidence.  They can easily identify each part of the book and can either read it cover to cover, or just dip into the bit that they want to develop and that is relevant to their needs and coaching.

They will also get a book that tells them to simply enjoy playing the game and to focus on the magic of the ball!  This is a chance for readers to remember why on earth they took up football in the first place.  We won’t get bogged down in ‘how fast are you? Can you jump?  Are you strong?’, we’ll look at the ball and I’ll show you how to achieve true excellence.

And who are you trying to reach with this book?

This book is for players new to the game, and those who have been playing for years, those who have been playing for a few months, those who have been coaching for years, those doing their coaching badges, those thinking about coaching badges, or even someone who just wants to think about goals and how to achieve them.

In short, it’s for everyone.

We’ve teamed up with the NCFA as our aims and beliefs align with those of this organization, and we felt the NCFA members and affiliates may be genuinely interested in this book.

With the launch of National Children’s Football Week, this really is a great moment for us to reach a whole new set of young players who can with this book, see their game thrive!

We’re really excited about what our readers think of it too.

Where can readers get their copy of this eBook?

MB.  Well, if you go online and go to the NCFA website, you’ll see a link to my book; if you follow that link, it’ll take you directly to the site and you can order from there.  We’re thrilled that 40% of the cover price does go straight to the NCFA too.

To order your copy of A Different Kind of Soccer Book click on the links or banner below.


Mark Burke features in the National Children’s Football Week FREEVFREE film, below.


Posted by: | Posted on: August 7, 2014


“Football and Peace“


Thorven Lucht, Coordinator for School Football,

Humboldt Gymnasium, Bad Pyrmont, Germany.

               For the last ten years I have been in charge of school football at our school, the Humboldt-Gymnasium Bad Pyrmont. This has led to our involvement in a multitude of competitions, events and projects, as well as many new friendships and valuable contacts to organizations and other schools. Mathias Bellinghausen, formerly of the German Sports University at Cologne, is one of these contacts – and we were very excited when he asked if we wanted to get involved in a new international project revolving around the 1914 “Christmas Truce” as a jumping-off-point for commemorating the global catastrophe that was World War I, while at the same time celebrating the power of sports to bring people together and overcome differences. Mathias put us in touch with Ernie Brennan and John Casey of the “Children’s Football Alliance”. Together, we planned a “Football and Peace” project that first of all would allow a group of our students to travel to England and participate in the “Peace Day” celebrations at Maidstone United FC, but would later lead to our involvement in various other, related projects.

               The aims of the project were and are manifold: The pupils are getting insights into the realities of World War I in general, as well as the “Christmas Truce“ in particular. They are meeting youngsters from many other countries, at first in Britain and later in Belgium, thus forming new friendships and realizing the importance of the European Union and the European idea(l) first hand. In the process they are participating in as well as creating themselves a “culture of remembrance”, which tries to learn from the past and aim for the future.

Humboldt Gymnasium collect medals

Humboldt Gymnasium receive Football & Peace Medals at the Football & Peace Day Celebration, Maidstone United Football Club’s Gallagher Stadium.

Humboldt Gymnasium team_300

Humboldt Gymnasium, Football & Peace Day Celebration, Maidstone United F.C, Gallagher Stadium. 25th April, 2014.

In April we assembled a group of 14 pupils aged 13 and 14 to travel to England for about a week. The main problem here was finding enough sponsors so that we could keep the parents’ contribution at a reasonable level. So at this point I have to express my gratitude to numerous organizations, local banks and businesses in Bad Pyrmont, which financed the bulk of this trip and made a fantastic experience possible: We stayed at a converted school campus near Watford – always accompanied by the great John Casey, whose contributions were absolutely invaluable. The program included many cultural and athletic highlights: a training session with Tottenham Hotspur youth coaches, visiting Wembley Stadium and many other famous sights in London, and most of all the aforementioned “Peace Day“.

               There approximately 100 British teenagers, as well as our students, came together and spent the morning together – playing rugby,  cricket and football, as well as doing boxing. This celebration of sports was “framed” by a speech by the British sports minister, a panel discussion about World War I and a chance for our pupils to present small gifts in the spirit of the “Christmas Truce”, where the soldiers had exchanged presents.

Thorven Lucht with Ernie Brennan F&P 2014_300_225

Thorven Lucht (left) with NCFA’s Ernie Brennan

The trip to England took six days in total – and all reactions and feedback have been overwhelmingly positive. Everyone is very much looking forward to a trip to the Flanders Peace Field in September and a commemorative event about the “Christmas Truce” in Bad Pyrmont in December, to which John Casey has promised to come to our town – which will be a fantastic surprise for all the kids who know him from April…


Thorven Lucht, Coordinator of School Football

Humboldt-Gymnasium Bad Pyrmont

Humboldtstraße 30

31812 Bad Pyrmont, Germany

Phone: (49) 5281-949-650 (school) or (49) 5154-707202 (home)

Posted by: | Posted on: August 7, 2014

Prime Minister meets NCFA

Ernie Brennan with Prime Minister David Cameron 01 07 14_280_200

Ernie Brennan (left) meets Prime Minister David Cameron at number 10 Downing Street’s Centenary Reception

Interview by Paul Cooper (PC) with Ernie Brennan (EB)

PC.  So how did the invite come about?

EB.  The Football & Peace Project profile hit the roof in terms of enquiries when Andrew Murrison, MP, featured on the NCFA website.  The Government have been helpful for organisations like the NCFA seeking to commemorate WW1 at grass roots community level.  NCFA’s work chimed with Helen Grant, Sports Minister, who very kindly found the time to attend the Football & Peace Day Celebration at Maidstone United Football Club’s Gallagher Stadium, last May.  Over the last couple of years NCFA have been in the position to lobby the custodians for support commemorating WW1.  The predictable lip service from the business world of football that followed was recognised by numerous organisations, MPs, councillors and education.  A body of support who value the Football & Peace Projects and the Peace Fields Projects, wanted the community programmes to work in a way that wasn’t selling football as a product.  The Christmas Truces thankfully lacked Fifa rules and Skye television.  Also a number of national newspapers referenced our work – in answer to your question; the Government clearly get it, the Press clearly get it, the public clearly get it- I think that is why NCFA’s work led to the WW1 Centenary Reception invite to number 10.

PC.  Looking back to the early days of the NCFA it would have seemed incomprehensible that one day you would be knocking on the most famous door in the world. Do you think that reflects how far the NCFA have come over the years?

EB. I never doubted the need for a Children’s Football Alliance, neither did the stakeholders, Brunel University, Leicester University and University of Gloucester.  NCFA core members are the salt of the Earth when it comes to the aims of the organisation.  I was indeed pleased that the Government invited the NCFA to talk about our work and support the WW1 commemorations at a community level, which I feel recognises the importance of every community that had no choice 100 years ago.  I think it is a testament to how far the NCFA have travelled over the years – if the Government are listening, then one hopes the sport you wish to make better is listening too!

PC.  Did you get to speak to the pm and if so what about?

EB.  I did manage to speak to the PM about the Peace Fields Project and how NCFA are seeking to twin designated areas of school playing fields with Flanders Peace Field through the Peace Village, Messines, Belgium.  We briefly discussed the importance of sports at community level engaging in the WW1 centenary commemorations.  I stressed that memorials to peace inspired by the Christmas Truces were just as important to memorials of war.  As you can imagine the PM’s time is a little like the BBC’s, every second is monitored, recorded and stop watched.

PC. It appears that the NCFA are filling a void and that politicians recognise this. What is you take on this?

EB.  In my opinion it is almost ironic that politicians recognise the NCFA on level that chimes with their ‘Big Society’ and yet, sport, particularly football, can be considered by the general public a law onto themselves.  Football is now a constant battle of the brands – it is tiresome – many people see through the marketing agendas; I think the Piece Fields Project will remind people that there is a lot more to football than brands and win at all costs, the Project lends itself to the essence of play.  Children that took part in the Football & Peace Projects re-evaluated how they felt about the modern day football machine. They considered a space, time and place, where the Christmas Truces in 1914 were humanitarian acts provided moments of hope in a world of chaos.  Allies and Germans played games just like they did in their childhood to escape reality.  With that thought in mind maybe some politicians are human after all?

 PC. What other organisations were at the function?

EB.  The great and the good from community projects.  There was a wide variety of organisations many from the education sector.  The most impressive person I met was Neil Beddow artistic director from Acta Community Theatre who have recently been performing ‘Gas Girls’ which has been receiving critical acclaim in the West Country for their performances.  The reception was peppered with celebs which I guess is a necessary tick in a box.

PC. How will attending such a function help the NCFA?

EB.  It will raise the NCFA profile which will lead to bolstering a growing network in the third sector (charities) for children’s football.  Hits on the NCFA website continue to rise with more child focused organisations recognising the value of partnership work.  Attending functions hosted by high profile people is an expected part of the course for further legitimisation.   I don’t mean to sound cynical here but I find the whole process a learning curve and frustratingly slow.

PC. Two finish off can you describe what it was like to put on a suit and tie. Also please tell me they had cocktail sausages and cheese footballs in the buffet at Number 10!

EB.  On a lighter note; my old man once said to me that, ‘you have to earn the right not to wear a suit’.  So, I expect I will be wearing a suit like a straight jacket for the rest of my life. Regards the cocktail sausages and cheese footballs, unfortunately, they missed a trick because there were lots of school children on the premises.  If fact, number 10 Downing Street has got the perfect garden for jumpers for goal posts.  It did cross my mind to challenge the government to a quick game of footy but I feared the neighbours might have kicked up a fuss!

For more information click on the Peace Fields Projects


Posted by: | Posted on: August 7, 2014


free v free_700 twitter

 Watch one of this year’s events and you decide whether football should be free?