October, 2016

now browsing by month

Posted by: | Posted on: October 26, 2016

A Level Playing Field


Matti speaking about The Peace Fields Project at a conference in Zagreb, Croatia.

The Peace Village are the custodians of one of the world’s most poignant football pitch.  To play a game of football at Flanders Fields is more than a game.  The whole experience contextualizes football way beyond the modern game’ Flanders Peace Pitch is the most level playing field you will every play on’, says, Matti Vandemeale, Director of The Peace Village’.  

The Peace Village celebrated its 10th birthday this year.  Can you summarise what have been the highlights in the last 10 years?

The first thing that was important was that we had to fill the ‘hostel’ with people coming over. Now we reach 20,000 people a year who come to visit the battlefields from across the world. Second thing we achieved was to create meaningful and interesting peace projects for our guests. We try to offer young and old visitors, projects, ceremonies, workshops and sports activities – including football, to help them making ‘peace’ more concrete. I am glad we reached the point of being more than just the best bed and breakfast in the region. We are also an active actor in making peace events and guiding people in the region.  I’m also proud that we could translate the story of the Christmas truces into concrete projects e.g. the Global Peace Games, The Peace Field Project and International Day of Peace with the NCFA and partners.

What is the best part about your job and why?

The best part is for me when we can ‘help’ one of the young people visiting the region in giving him / her an experience with a lifelong memory of their visit. Sometimes we have ‘challenging’ groups of young and older people who may have special needs or come from difficult backgrounds and when we engage them in history, they contextualise their home lives with the incredible stories of the First World War, especially The Christmas Truces.

The Peace Village receives over 20,000 guests a year.  What memories do you think they take back home and what kind of messages do they leave in the visitor’s book?

Mostly get positive feedback. We try to do our best in giving them the things they need and even more. The memories they take home are usually from the tour they did in the region. They general connect with the awesome amount of facts, stats and names, of soldiers that came from around the world to fight in The First World War can have a positive impact.  We bespoke our programmes to meet the needs of many different communities and cultures.  Things that may work for one person / group doesn’t necessarily work for another person / group. It’s the tour guiding in the region that makes us special.  It is the excellent facilities that provide a relaxing trip.  So, when they go home with a good feeling we here at The Peace Village are happy too.

The Peace Village and The NCFA continue to inspire young peacemakers for the future through the Peace Fields Projects, Global Peace Games and International Day of Peace.  How difficult is it to generate funding for these projects and why is finding funding so difficult?

I believe in the kind of projects that we do with the NCFA. They are unique in terms of formal and informal learning.  The problem is that we must conform to a tick box culture.  Funding streams are regimental they are very difficult to adapt to with what we do here and funding streams do not consider the long-term sustainability of any one project in terms of development.  They tend to be focused on a current elective government policy which hinders and sense of unity.  The projects we achieve with The NCFA are cross-curricular based, they engage young people in football, sports and sportsmanship.  In addition, the projects involve history, art, languages, citizenship, conflict resolution and debates on peace.   Funders tend to be more myopic focused on individual projects. Our projects are a combination of elements, which can be viewed currently as a weakness rather than funders sharing the vision as a strength.

What would you like to see The Peace Village achieve in the next 10 years?

I hope we can reach more people with the educational and project work we are doing, I hope our collaboration in football and sports with the NCFA continues to make peace makers for the future and that we can find funding to work on a permanent base without everyday funding concerns. I hope we can play an active role in peace building across the world. So, projects where we make the link between WWI and conflicts and working with young people in solving these conflicts of today.

For more information about The Peace Village click on: http://www.peacevillage.be/

Posted by: | Posted on: October 26, 2016


Association Football has been played for over 150 years and is by far the most popular team game in history.   It is a game almost exclusively organised, played, supported, managed and profited from, by men.  Women were at first ignored, then banned, and latterly marginalised by being confined to their own game, even though they are just as skilful as men players; and despite the huge financial contribution, in one form or another, that they make to men’s football.     

There has been blind, cultural and an almost sacred acceptance of this segregation, with next to no questioning, debate or examination.   Indeed, even to raise the issue of men and women playing the game together, invites hostile disapprobation.

The only argument, of any substance, against men and women playing the game as a shared experience, is the perceived difference in physical strength between the genders.  Though the magnitude and scope of that difference is a matter of argument, it is nevertheless generally acknowledged as fact that women are disadvantaged; with the women’s game consequently viewed as ’inferior’.

Disgracefully, there has never been any effort to end this obvious and needless imbalance; a situation that has arisen from a lack of vision, misogyny, female passivity, male arrogance, gender prejudice, and blinkered corporate selfishness.

FairFootball challenges this status-quo by proposing modifications that would enable men and women to play the game together on a totally equal basis.  These are virtually cost free and remarkably simple, with the game retaining its essence; feeling the same to players, and looking the same to spectators.   The rhetoric for equality for women in football has been exposed as meaningless.

An added benefit of FairFootball is that it would open-up the game to other dichotomous groups, such as age difference (mothers/daughters, fathers/sons etc.).  This would make football truly inclusive; an ideal community sport.

‘This website uses football as an exemplar to show how easy it is to modify sport so enabling the genders to fully participate and compete together; reversing the corrosive misogyny and gender stereotyping that many sports promulgate’.  J G Harvey

For more information about this topic visit http://www.fairfootball.co.uk/ 

Posted by: | Posted on: October 17, 2016


BIFC logo_w225_h324

BIFC is a medium sized non-profit Soccer Club serving the Bainbridge Island WA community and attracting players from around the Kitsap Pennisula.  We offer a range of programs and competitive levels at all ages.  At BIFC we believe soccer is about doing things properly. About making sure everyone has a chance to be involved in soccer, regardless of ability, gender, or disability. About encouraging and increasing the involvement at all levels of soccer, and about having fun doing it.  It’s about making opportunities available, and about using the power of soccer to build the best environment for our players to thrive as they seek their own pathway in playing the beautiful game. Our club logo provides the essence of our program where our stars on our jerseys represent soccer for all. There is a place for you at BIFC – come join us!

Why doe your club think it is important to twin with Flanders Peace Field?

This is a brilliant concept that offers BIFC a way to expand, in a positive and global sense, our soccer culture on Bainbridge Island.  For our youth, this is important and positive history to know and understand at a time when typical news on a global scale is about tragedy, conflict and war.   Allows for the application of modern day sportsmanship and fair play in a historical context.  We also would like to twin with Flanders Peace Field and create links with like-minded  clubs through the International Children’s Football Alliance across Europe and the rest of the world.





Paul Cooper (left) National Projects Director for the International Children’s Football Alliance presents Matti Vandemeale (right) Director of The Peace Village, with Bainbridge Island Football Club’s Peace Field Project Plaque.

Bainbridge Island Football Club, Seattle, USA are the first soccer club in the States to twin their soccer pitch with Flander’s Peace Field, site of the 1914 Christmas Truces. Paul Cooper, National Projects Director at The International Children’s Football Allaince presented Matti Vandemeale, Director of The Peace Village, BIFC’s Peace Field Project Plaque on the United Nations International Day of Peace (21st September, 2016)  in Messines, Belgium.

Posted by: | Posted on: October 17, 2016

FIFA Award Slum Soccer


International Children’s Football Alliance stakeholders Slum Soccer has won the inaugural FIFA Diversity Award today. The award was created by FIFA to recognise outstanding organisations, group initiatives and football personalities that are standing up for diversity and inspire unity, solidarity and equality among all people. Slum Soccer uses football to connect individuals, teach life skills and work towards improving the living conditions of women and marginalised populations in Indian society.

The other two finalists were the International Gay & Lesbian Football Association (IGLFA), which promotes and fosters the worldwide growth of football for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals (LGBT) while also strengthening the self-respect of the global LGBT community, and Kick It Out, of England, an organisation which enables, facilitates and works with football authorities, professional clubs, players, fans and communities to tackle all forms of discrimination.

The award was presented by FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura alongside former Dutch international Clarence Seedorf and former German international Thomas Hitzlsperger, members of the jury for the FIFA Diversity Award. The 11 members of the jury, including former football professionals and experts, have a wealth of global experience in various areas of diversity and anti-discrimination, whether related to ethnic, national or social origin, gender, disability, language, religion, political opinion, sexual orientation or any other form of discrimination.  The ceremony, which was held at the Soccerex Global Convention in Manchester, UK, and was hosted by CNN anchor Amanda Davies, provided the occasion for a lively discussion on diversity in sport.