International

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Posted by: | Posted on: February 5, 2017

Uganda

Watoto Wasoka was founded in 2009.

Watoto Wasoka – football made in slums, is a local NGO based in the heart of Kampala’s biggest slums. We are a non‐profit,community – led youth development organization which uses soccer as a vehicle for positive change in the life of slum children in Uganda. The organization aims to promote street and slum kids through their love for football, and tries to provide them with an alternative to street life for a better future perspective. We offer shelter, education and school support.  Upon realization of our first model centre, we intend to include health services & job training for those, who do not obtain scholarships.

Francis Mugoya, Executive Director, says,  We cannot be any less proud about the past twelve months, and would love to thank you for all the support from the previous year. With your support in 2016, we managed to organize;

  1. The inaugural edition of the Primary Schools League with eight schools and 200 boys between March and August 2016.
  1. The fourth Slums Derby and the first girls’ edition of the same bringing together over 700 boys and girls from Kampala slums.
  1. The fifth edition of the Christmas Camp, and the second girls’ edition of the same, which brought together a record over 2,200 boys and girls from all over Uganda.  We managed to give out over 300 footballs to slum teams from all over Uganda.  We delivered training on Football 4 WASH to over 80 primary school pupils and teachers in Moroto in partnership with Viva con Agua and Welthungerhilfe.  We visited and learnt from great organisations including Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) and Moving The Goalposts (MTG) in Kenya, and streetfootballworld (sfw) in Berlin.  For 2017, we are already planning big for our Primary Schools League, the Slums Derby and the Christmas Camp.

For more information:  http://www.watotowasoka.ug/watoto-wasoka-about-us/

 

 

Posted by: | Posted on: February 4, 2017

Canada

Valour Patriots Football is a proud member of the Manitoba Minor Football Association (MMFA). Ours is a program based on the fundamentals of inclusion, embracing diversity, and ensuring every youth who wants to play is given the opportunity. Our name and logo are tributes to the history of Valour Rd., which Valour Community Centre is named for.

After a generation without a minor football program based in Winnipeg’s West End, Patriots Football was established in 2009. Our first season saw 65 players registered at three age levels (Terminator, Atom, and Peewee).  In 2012, the numbers grew to 120 players and include all age groups within the MMFA.

Through the hard work of our players and coaches, the quality of our teams has steadily improved, and there are no easy games for opposition teams at Patriots Field. On game days, the large crowds of enthusiastic family members, friends, and supporters transform the neighborhood into a busier, and much noisier place!

Patriots Football recognizes and acknowledges the strong history of football in West Winnipeg by honoring leaders from its past. The Leo Ezerins Patriot Pride Award, and the Dave Donaldson Defensive Player Award are awarded annually by their namesakes to deserving players.

Jimmy Marnoch, GENERAL MANAGER, VALOUR COMMUNITY CENTRE, writes; the history of the Valour Road area of Winnipeg.

Valour Road runs north-south thru the West End of Winnipeg MB.  Formerly known as Pine Street, the name of the street changed to Valour Road after 3 residents of the street all received the Victoria Cross for actions of bravery during WW1.

The West End is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, and formed the West End of the old City of Winnipeg before Winnipeg merged together with several other surrounding municipalities. So, in actual fact, there are several other neighborhoods located to the west of the West End, and the West End is actually in the “Core Area” of the new City of Winnipeg.

The West End is a largely working class neighborhood, and it is very diverse (home to many Metis Canadians, Indigenous Canadians, and Canadians of European, Asian, and African descent).

In addition to the Metis, Indigenous, and Anglo-Canadian families living here, the West End has always been a home to new immigrants as well (Icelanders formed a large part of the population earlier in the 1900’s (side note, the first gold medal in Olympic ice hockey was won by the Winnipeg Falcons – a team made up largely of Icelandic immigrants from the West End), Portuguese and Filipino families began immigrating to the area in the 70’s and still make up a significant portion of population, and more recently many families of African and Middle Eastern origins have settled in the neighborhood).

The West End was formerly served by 3 community centres (Clifton, Isaac Brock, and Orioles). Those three centres merged operations in 2006, and renamed under the banner Valour Community Centre, and the sports teams adopted the name Valour Patriots (logos are attached).

Here is a short “Heritage Minute” video that aired on Canadian TV dramatizing the history behind the Valour Road name. https://www.historicacanada.ca/content/heritage-minutes/valour-road

Here is a very quick rundown of Valour Road from Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valour_Road

Here is another article from the Winnipeg Free Press going into a bit more detail. http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/Valour-Road-Victoria-Cross-medals-find-new-home-at-war-museum-177329951.html

And here is a link to Valour Community Centre’s website. http://valourcc.ca/

Posted by: | Posted on: October 17, 2016

USA

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.

http://www.bifc.net/home

http://www.bifc.net/whoweare

THE FIRST CLUB IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

paul-and-matti-bifc-plaque

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: July 17, 2016

Ghana

National Children’s Football Week is due to take over Ghana with Play Ghana ‘s staff, parents and children organising events across the country.

Ghana parade

P.L.A.Y (Participation In the Lives Of African Youth) (GHANA) was set up by Kofi Bawuah, a football coach by profession in 2004.  P.L.A.Y (Ghana) was set up to bring to the forefront the neglect of the youth in the development of sports/football in Ghana. P.L.A.Y serves as a mouthpiece for children in terms of the amenities they lack to assist in their development through childhood play, lack of trained technical personnel, lack of playing fields, physical education not being part of the school curriculum. Also P.L.A.Y is in the forefront of the campaign to encourage internal school sports rather than out of school which is the norm in Ghana.

The Aim of Play Ghana is to encourage Government and the major stakeholders about the need for children to be allowed to play free of any adult influences or barriers.  In the face of aggressive marketing and consumer campaigns this has been a global concern for many years with many childhood issues shared with education authorities.

Ghana public_300

Hundreds of children across Ghana and Africa have benefited from P.L.A.Y(Ghana) activities.  In 2008 we facilitated the trip by the UK Parliamentary Football Club to Ghana whereby a donation of 15,000 pounds was made to the SOS Village in Tema. Charlton Badge 200We also partnered with MTV Base to distribute hundreds of footballs to the children of some major orphanages.  As the official representative for Ghana on the Greenwich Meridian Link we also partnered with Charlton Athletic Football Club to distribute football shirts to schools in Dansoman and Tema.  In 2009 in response to  a request from the Liberian Ambassador we donated track suit tops given to us by the English Football Association to the National Liberian Amputee team.

Currently P.L.A.Y. Ghana have a permanent staff of four Kofi Bawuah, Kwabena Antwi, Barima Sarpong and Evelyn Akuffo, we have a maximum of ten volunteers who work on project by project basis.

Ghana presentation_300

The current number one issue is the lack of playing fields for children to play on, also important is the disappearance of physical education from the curriculum as most schools springing up now have no pitches or parks for the students to play on.  We are lobbying the Ghana Education Service to make it mandatory again that all schools should have these basic essential facilities.

#freevfree red Generic w772 h392

By hosting the National Children’s Football Week in Ghana to coincide with United Nations International Day Of Peace we will be able to get the major stakeholders in the country to realize the neglect of the needs of the children as Ghana heads towards the elections.  Children are the victims should the country be plunged into chaos through the actions of the adults so their voices should be heard in the build up.  As International Children’s Football Alliance stakeholders we wish to raise the plight of P.L.A.Y Ghana with organisations in a position to help support the needs of our children.

Ghana meeting the players_300

P.L.A.Y. Ghana will be seeking to twin designated areas of play with Flanders Peace Field, Messines, Belgium, site of the 1914 Christmas Truces.  Through the Peace Fields Project the children would be educated on the sacrifices that our forefathers had made in order for them to have peace.  It would also serve as a reminder not to take peace for granted and that the need for each of them to be peace ambassadors using sport as the vehicle.

ICFA PFP LOGO

Both National Children’s Football Week and The Peace Fields Project are important because football is the very popular in Ghana and with the elections approaching having a week dedicated to the children we would be able to put our message of PEACE, before, during and after the elections to the masses through the activities lines up including a lecture by the children on football and how it can be used to promote peace.  We would also have a strong internet and media presence during that week. We intend to interview children on their thoughts on the upcoming elections and how it affects them.  Most importantly we would appeal to owners of pitches / astro turfs and parks to allow children to use their facilities for free.  Selected schools would also be competing for the maiden ASOMDWEE (PEACE) CUP MATCH. ASOMDWEE means PEACE in our local dialect and because it would be competed for on that day we chose to name it in our local dialect as the day is also known locally as FOUNDERS DAY and it is a holiday.

Kofi with Goverment_300

One of the major benefactors of our programs has been the 5 Garrison Schools which is made up predominantly of children whose parents are serving in the army.  We have run inter schools programs for them, helped upgrade some playing fields and even included them in the FC Unity campaign with Yamam Nabeel.  We invited him to Ghana with the PEACE BALL and hosted an event within the Burma Camp Army base.  Also did extensive work with the Liberian refugees in Buduburam Camp where we run coaching programs and hosted tournaments and other games for the residents.

Garrison_300

Posted by: | Posted on: July 17, 2016

P.L.A.Y. Ghana, NCFW & Peace Fields Project

National Children’s Football Week is due to take over Ghana with Play Ghana ‘s staff, parents and children organising events across the country.

Ghana parade

P.L.A.Y (Participation In the Lives Of African Youth) (GHANA) was set up by Kofi Bawuah, a football coach by profession in 2004.  P.L.A.Y (Ghana) was set up to bring to the forefront the neglect of the youth in the development of sports/football in Ghana. P.L.A.Y serves as a mouthpiece for children in terms of the amenities they lack to assist in their development through childhood play, lack of trained technical personnel, lack of playing fields, physical education not being part of the school curriculum. Also P.L.A.Y is in the forefront of the campaign to encourage internal school sports rather than out of school which is the norm in Ghana.

The Aim of Play Ghana is to encourage Government and the major stakeholders about the need for children to be allowed to play free of any adult influences or barriers.  In the face of aggressive marketing and consumer campaigns this has been a global concern for many years with many childhood issues shared with education authorities.

Ghana public_300

Hundreds of children across Ghana and Africa have benefited from P.L.A.Y(Ghana) activities.  In 2008 we facilitated the trip by the UK Parliamentary Football Club to Ghana whereby a donation of 15,000 pounds was made to the SOS Village in Tema. Charlton Badge 200We also partnered with MTV Base to distribute hundreds of footballs to the children of some major orphanages.  As the official representative for Ghana on the Greenwich Meridian Link we also partnered with Charlton Athletic Football Club to distribute football shirts to schools in Dansoman and Tema.  In 2009 in response to  a request from the Liberian Ambassador we donated track suit tops given to us by the English Football Association to the National Liberian Amputee team.

Currently P.L.A.Y. Ghana have a permanent staff of four Kofi Bawuah, Kwabena Antwi, Barima Sarpong and Evelyn Akuffo, we have a maximum of ten volunteers who work on project by project basis.

Ghana presentation_300

The current number one issue is the lack of playing fields for children to play on, also important is the disappearance of physical education from the curriculum as most schools springing up now have no pitches or parks for the students to play on.  We are lobbying the Ghana Education Service to make it mandatory again that all schools should have these basic essential facilities.

#freevfree red Generic w772 h392

By hosting the National Children’s Football Week in Ghana to coincide with United Nations International Day Of Peace we will be able to get the major stakeholders in the country to realize the neglect of the needs of the children as Ghana heads towards the elections.  Children are the victims should the country be plunged into chaos through the actions of the adults so their voices should be heard in the build up.  As International Children’s Football Alliance stakeholders we wish to raise the plight of P.L.A.Y Ghana with organisations in a position to help support the needs of our children.

Ghana meeting the players_300

P.L.A.Y. Ghana will be seeking to twin designated areas of play with Flanders Peace Field, Messines, Belgium, site of the 1914 Christmas Truces.  Through the Peace Fields Project the children would be educated on the sacrifices that our forefathers had made in order for them to have peace.  It would also serve as a reminder not to take peace for granted and that the need for each of them to be peace ambassadors using sport as the vehicle.

ICFA PFP LOGO

Both National Children’s Football Week and The Peace Fields Project are important because football is the very popular in Ghana and with the elections approaching having a week dedicated to the children we would be able to put our message of PEACE, before, during and after the elections to the masses through the activities lines up including a lecture by the children on football and how it can be used to promote peace.  We would also have a strong internet and media presence during that week. We intend to interview children on their thoughts on the upcoming elections and how it affects them.  Most importantly we would appeal to owners of pitches / astro turfs and parks to allow children to use their facilities for free.  Selected schools would also be competing for the maiden ASOMDWEE (PEACE) CUP MATCH. ASOMDWEE means PEACE in our local dialect and because it would be competed for on that day we chose to name it in our local dialect as the day is also known locally as FOUNDERS DAY and it is a holiday.

Kofi with Goverment_300

Posted by: | Posted on: May 3, 2016

ICFA, Peace Pitch, Nagpur

The First International Children’s Football Alliance (ICFA), Peace Pitch, Nagpur, India.

Slum Soccer celebrated the twinning their Academy football pitch with Flanders Peace Field and The Peace Village, Messine, Belgium, site of the 1914 First World War Christmas Truces.   The Peace Field plaque (sponsored by Jones Lang Lasalle, JLL) was presented to V’jay Barse the founder of Slum Soccer by Ernie Brennan, Managing Director of the National Children’s Football Alliance.

PFP ceremonyw300_h169

The event facilitated a series of football games for boys and girls.  The special guests were students from Frankfurt University who were on a study trip in India;

‘It was an honor to take part in the twinning ceremony. We are here to observe how non government organisations work in the third sector. Observing how the National Children’s Football Alliance (NCFA) UK work together with Slum Soccer has been a fascinating and inspiring experience which all my students will benefit from’.  Prof. Dr. Alexandra Caspari. 

‘This is a very important part of Slum Soccer to have a peace pitch that promotes play to young and old people. The connection with the First World War’s, 1914, Christmas Truces and India, is a valuable historical and modern day learning tool.  We will promote peace through play and continue to work with our partners to ensure all children benefit from football’. Dr V’jay Barse, Slum Soccer.

VJBarse signing PFP DeclarationW300_H169

Dr V’Jay Barse signs the Peace Field Declaration.

‘This is a great idea and I think all the Slum Soccer players, coaches and parents, will understand that we coach football to everyone but we also teach good values that promote peace’.  Homkant Surandase, Slum Soccer, Head Coach.

There is a lot to gain from twinning a football pitch with Flanders Peace Field.  The universal message of peace lends itself to sportsmanship, equality, humanitarianism and citizenship.  Coaches use the 1914 Christmas Truces’ football match as a valuable learning tool in terms of community cohesion.

Slum Soccer will use the Peace Pitch to bring people together. The educational aspect of the Peace Pitch draws on a cross-curricular programme incorporating history, literature, cultural diversity and peace making.  It is hoped that the Peace Pitch will facilitate all-inclusive peace tournaments and bring together further funding opportunities for local, regional and National companies to help support the good work of Slum Soccer and all their children.

Posted by: | Posted on: April 30, 2016

The Underdogs

‘The Underdogs’ galvanise a sense of togetherness like no-other emotion.  This story of an International Children’s Football Alliance team representing Slum Soccer, India, is an inspirational story.  Some of the team that experienced the Swiss International u16s 2015 tournament talk about when they played against academies from professional European clubs.

Team of 2015 reunion

Bringing a team of young players together from one of the poorest slums in the world to one of the most beautiful, affluent and serene countries in the world, was an experience never to be forgotten.

‘I learnt so much as a football coach at the Swizz under 16s 2015 International Cup Tournament. I felt young players from India may not have the best facilities or the best leagues in the world but what they do have is the passion and desire to play at all levels’ Humkant Surandase, Slum Soccer, Head Coach.

This was a unique social inclusion programme as witnessed in the Slum Soccer u16s Tournament in Switzerland Evaluation produced by the NCFA.

Eleven Indian players formed a squad with eleven local players from Liechtenstein and Switzerland to take part in the Football Is More, Swiss, u16s International Cup.  None of the players had ever played together before.  They were formed to play against a number of Europe’s professional clubs’ youth academies.

The mish mash squad representing India played six matches and understandably considered to be the cannon fodder of the tournament.

What transpired was a lesson in all that participated and in all that witnessed the matches that India played.

slum soccer team in kit_w300_168

The score  lines should have been predictable and to a degree they were.  However, the Indian squad were arguably the most progressive team in the tournament.  To their credit, a fact that did not go unnoticed by the event organisers when the voted the Indian goal keeper the goal keeper of the tournament.  The Indian goalkeeper had never played on such palatial surfaces in his life and yet he beat off academy goal keepers that some had been in the football academy system for four or more years.

Coaching and managing a brand new team where players from different cultures do not know each other’s ability may sound daunting in a tournament environment.   The challenge was to form a close bond on and off the field in a short space of time – 5 days.

This was achieved quickly in terms of small short sharp burst of training. Under a blistering sun the Indian squad were already a metaphoric goal up.  Conserving energy and staying cool was second nature to the Indian players which they quickly shared with their foreign team mates.

While the clip board prescriptive coaches of academy teams were training their players in 30 minute sessions right up to 10 minutes before kick off it became apparent that the Indian team would indeed benefit from setting small progressive targets in their matches.

The Indian team were told from the start that results are for other teams to worry about. They would indeed be expected to loose every match given the talented opposition.

‘We said to our players in the first match that your target is to keep the score at nil nil for the first 10 minutes and if that was successful we would seek to get three shots on goal’ Sajid Jamal, Manager.

Celebrations_w300_h169

It transpired that small realistic targets in each game were not only achieved but built a tremendous team spirit up to the point where India won there final match in front of the largest audience of the tournament.  Not only did their fellow under 16s participants acknowledge their match performances but the participants parents sensed an underdog that played their matches with out fear and great adult expectations.

Indeed, there was acknowledgement among the coaching fraternity when one coach commented;

‘We manufacture footballers far too early.  When our players came up against the Indian team they were suddenly confronted by unpredictable players full of energy, passion and desire. The Indian team lacked flare but their creativity was a sharp reminder that no matter how hard you coach a team at any level you will only witness creativity when you put down the coaching books.

‘The Indian team played a form of football that reminded all the academy teams not to stop playing street football because that is where you start your trade’.  Jim Cassell, ex-,Manchester City Academy.

Posted by: | Posted on: October 13, 2015

A Peace Field In The Congo

Claudia and Abhijeet_w300_h169

Joey, son of Claudia and Jake, River of Hope, is presented a Peace Fields Poppy Ball from International Children’s Football Alliance’s Abhijeet Barse (CEO, Slum Soccer, India) at the Football Is More, International Forum, Bad Ragaz, Switzerland.  Mum, Claudia, writes;Presentation in the Congo_w300_h169

Dear all Greetings from Sanga Mamba Where Jake had a speech at 7am Morning Réunion in Front of 500 Students of Don Bosco.

Presentation boy girl_300_169

Joey Is handing over the ball to Marina. They are both 14 years old but she is an orphan.

Presentation Jake_w300_h169

On the last picture you see Jake with Jean Marie Vianney Nshombo the founder of Ciperfoot and head coach.

Kind regards Claudia Doron, Founder of River of Hope.

Posted by: | Posted on: April 16, 2013

International – Macedonia

OFFS_logo_200

http://www.offmacedonia.com.mk
NCFA spoke with Ceno Aleksandrovski (CA) Country Coordinator for Macedonia’s Open Fun Football Schools (OFFS) about their growing international recognition for the work they do is some very challenging communities in the Balkans.

Can you introduce the International Children’s Football Alliance members to Open Fun Football Schools? What do you do, where do you do it and who do you do it for?

CA. Open fun football schools is a humanitarian project using joyful games and the pedagogical “fun-football-concept” as tools to promote the process of democracy, peace, stability and social cohesion within the Balkans countries, the Trans Caucasus countries and countries in the Middle East. We do it to strenghten community relations.

OFFS_boys_300Children play in safe environments

Why was OFFS formed and what is the aim of the organisation?

 

CA. OFFS is building on the experience of how wars and ethnic conflicts affect people and their possibilities of returning to a daily life in post conflict areas

What are your links with UEFA?

CA. We are charity partner of UEFA from 2002, we have won many awards for out work and the organization continues to deliver high standards of child focused activities, which we are very proud of.

What are the components for reconciliation in your work?

CA.They are to bring teachers, leaders, trainers and children from different ethnic and social backgrounds to work together. To create a physical, psychological and social environment where children feel confident, stimulated and secure. Based on a strong local foundation, democratic principles, voluntarism and parent support. Bring new impulses and educate hundreds of qualified coaches from the football clubs and teachers from the elementary schools. Motivate children and adults to join local football clubs and promote children’s grassroots football activities. Distribute thousands of football and other sport equipment to the benefit of the local football clubs.

What are the strengths of OFFS?

CA.The strengths of Open Fun Football Schools is to be found in it’s ability to generate relations between people. OFFS is a community-based reconciliation project. The meaning of OFFS is to facilitate friendship and sport co-operation between people living in divided communities.

As supporters of Football & Peace do you feel that there should be more opportunities for children and young people to participate in cross cultural football for fun projects, if so, why do you think it is important?

CA.Yes of course, important is for sharing experiences, best practices, and building new friendship. That is one of the basic principles of Open Fun Football Schools.

Can you tell ICFA members about your next project, where it will be and what it is about?

OFFS_equality_300

Games nuturing equality.

What are OFFS core principles?

CA. All Open Fun Football Schools are organized in accordance with the basic principles: – promote grassroots football for all – promote female participation in football at all levels-minimum 25% participants of players, coaches, leaders and officials – show social responsibility, which implies that all schools are organized accordance with our so-called twin-city principles to secure diversity in terms of, among others, ethnic, social, religious and political background – mobilize voluntary leaders and coaches – educate voluntary coaches and leaders in our specific pedagogical “fun football concept”

As supporters of Football & Peace do you feel that there should be more opportunities for children and young people to participate in cross cultural football for fun projects, if so, why do you think it is important?

CA.Yes of course, important is for sharing experiences, best practices, and building new friendship. That is one of the basic principles of Open Fun Football Schools.

Can you tell us about your next project, where it will be and what it is about?

CA. It is the SSP project in Macedonia ( Sport-School-Police) together with primary schools, municipalities, Police – prevention sector , Sport clubs etc. We also have the COCA COLA CUP 2013 with Skopje Brewery and Coca Cola – during May/June 2013 in many cities all around country (Macedonia ) and the development of grassroots and girls football together with FA of Macedonia ( football tournaments for girls ) / UEFA grassroots girls projects.

For more information OPEN FUN FOOTBALL SCHOOLSclick on the link below

OFFS_logo_200

http://www.offmacedonia.com.mk

Posted by: | Posted on: April 16, 2013

Australia – FOOTBALL UNITED

FOOTBALL UNITED

F.U was developed from a vision that people’s love for Football (soccer) can be used to build opportunities for belonging, racial harmony and community cohesion. Begun with a goal to support refugee and newly arrived immigrant youth and families in their transition into Australian society, as the program implementation progressed, Football United leadership noted that often community sport, as currently practiced, is exclusive rather than inclusive.

Australian Children’s Football Alliance’s John Neil (JN) chats to Anne and Brad Carroll founders of the very special Football United

(JN) What is the overview of FU and who benefits?

The Football United Vision is based on a Community Development, Determinants-based Health Promotion and Positive Social Change approach that underpins all Football United interventions. Importantly all FUn programs engage with local partner groups, and all intervention sites involve extensive partner consultation and engagement, resulting in site-specific activities that are particularly adapted to the needs and realities of those sites. While intervention components are similar or the same in the different sites, (eg. Coach training, regular playing opportunities, access to leadership opportunities), flexibility and adaptation according to site specifics is vital for an effective program impact and community outcomes.

(JN) Are there a set of Football United principles?

FU use community building, social development principles;

– partnership-based approach which involves working with the community and community leaders to identify and address local needs;
– all programs systematically include local engagement, capacity building and leadership development programs, which developing self-esteem and leadership skills whilst building community morale and participation.

(JN) So where has FU come from and where is it at now?

Founded in 2006, Football United has grown significantly from a 1 program Sydney’s Western suburbs to reach more than 3000 children and youth across Australia. Football United’s achievements include:

– Football United awarded 2012 Australian Parliamentary Community Sports Award
– Football United awarded 2011 New South Wales Building Inclusive Communities Award
– Football United film awarded Australian National Human Rights award, 2010
– One of 32 programs and the only Australian organisation chosen by FIFA to participate in first ever Festival for Hope World Cup tournament in June 2010
– Awarded UNSW University award for Community Engagement, 2009
– Secured Australian Research Council Linkage Grant to deliver a global first evaluation into the effectiveness of using Football to improve social cohesion in urban communities.

(JN) Can you tell us about the National Development?

In 2010 Football United established a non funding partnership with the Football Federation Australia (FFA) and secured a small grant from Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to expand programs inter-state. In April 2010, with the support of the Queensland Government, Football United commenced the first inter-state project in Brisbane call Shinpads and Hijab’s. In 2011 Football United began its South Australia program in partnership with the University of South Australia-Adelaide. Further projects will commence in ACT, supported by Football ACT and many local partners in 2012, with requests from other states to begin new program or engage with local partner groups.

(JN) What about Football United and the International scene?

Football United is engaged in football for social development regionally and internationally. Football United’s CEO is also Australian representative to the Oceania Football Confederation’s Pacific Youth and Sport Forum, which was founded in 2010 by the OFC. Football United supports programs in Cameroon, South Sudan and a number of other programs through technical consulting. Football United was the first Australian member of the Streetfootball-world (SFW) network. SFW comprises more than 100 organisations worldwide, and works in partnership with FIFA. Football United was the Australian delegation participating in the first Streetfootballworld/FIFA 2010 Football for Hope Festival, an official event of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Football United has an official partnership with the FFA, is one of Sydney FC’s Charity partners, and works in collaboration and with support from a number of government, local and corporate bodies, as well as a significant number of volunteers.

(JN) Why football?

It is important to understand why football is seen as a tool that can be used to better society. Research suggests that participation in sport can be crucial in the development of young people. Health and fitness, through the pursuit of physical activity, is widely regarded as a key factor in personal development and many of the skills that are fundamental in sports participation, particularly in team sports, are transferable in wider aspects of life. Sport encourages strong community bonds, regular physical activity and access to positive mentors for young people. In disadvantaged communities these features are essential to social development of children and youths and building the capacity of the community more broadly. Among the various sports, Football, in particular, is an ideal tool to foster socialisation. It is the one single global sport, hence its appeal across all socio-cultural groups. In addition, it is relatively inexpensive, and is designed as a non-violent sport. It is played by both genders, thus is non-exclusive. It provides transferable skills of fair play, tolerance, inclusion and understanding of oneself, team mates and opponents alike. It teaches of responsibility, winning, losing and participation. It can address diverse and complex issues, such as children’s rights, peace building, education, health promotion and anti-discrimination. Most of all, however, it is fun.

(JN) What are the key issues related to the equity gap in participation?

Gaps in equity of access are apparent across many low SES communities : often community sport, as currently practiced, is excluding rather than inclusive. Participation is largely not possible for many socio-disadvantaged youth. Consequently, Football United, and its innovative approach, has been engaged in effectively addressing areas of social inequity and their ensuing impact on communities since 2006, addressing the following issues:

There are extreme gaps in equity of participation in sport in both the community sport arena as well as within the public education sector;
These gaps in participation translate to gaps in opportunity, which if not addressed, result in issues of disaffection in society (leaving school, aggressive behaviour, unemployment etc);
Misunderstanding of newly arrived immigrants and different cultures often translates further to racism……and the ensuing problems it provokes.
The above-mentioned phenomena highlight issues of inequity of access to sport, education, employment, health and community services in disadvantaged communities. Football United’s proven capacity and innovative approach of using Football as the vehicle to address these issues, through programs, research and advocacy, has resulted in rapid growth in demand across Western Sydney, interstate and now internationally. The issues highlighted below are central to the design and implementation of Football United with evidence taken from our own and others’ research and Government reports, including the 2009 Crawford Report, Children Sport, Youth Leadership Report and research by the Centre for Multicultural Youth Inc. and the Australian Bureau of Statistics all of which highlights:

– Very low participation rates of people from disadvantaged and multicultural backgrounds in sport and physical activity
– “Club sports are made up mostly of children from middleclass backgrounds, because participation requires adequate disposable income to pay for fees, uniforms, equipment and transport.” (Crawford)
– People born in Australia had participation rates (in organised sport) of 27%, compared to around 10% for people born in non-English speaking countries.” (CMYI)
– Long-term funding approaches are needed to address this issue and improve the ineffective distribution of short term, short sighted funding (Crawford, NSWDSR).
– “Government and NGO’s have historically supported one-off, short-term activities that limit the development of genuine community capacity and undermine the potential for sustainable community-run sport programs
– Developing neighbourhood programs, re-building schools’ systems, and training teachers are crucial to addressing the physical activity needs and interests of children, youth and families from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds, enabling them to overcome their limited resources and better engage with educational and social systems (Crawford, CMYI, ASC).

Football United experiences, researches and addresses – in short knows and engages with these issues both intimately and extensively.

(JN) How does Football United address the needs?

Football United uses the globally attractive passion for the worldwide game to provide a pathway to engagement and development opportunities for disadvantaged youth, children and their families in communities with high proportions of people from, refugee, indigenous, migrant and lower socio-economic backgrounds. Football United runs 15 programs across Western Sydney, Adelaide and soon the ACT that improve their access to education, health services and physical activity. This is achieved through:

Provision of regular, free, accessible and localised football training and playing opportunities for up to 3000 children per year to improve social cohesion while increasing physical activity rates for disadvantaged children and youth.
Provide training and mentoring for 150 youth each year, through tailored programs in leadership, community coordination, football coaching qualifications, personal development and life-skills. A significant proportion of youth continue with the program as coaches and project coordinators.
Build extensive and collaborative relationships with diverse community-based partners as well as local and state government agencies. This includes training and development of staff in these organisations increasing their skills and enhancing the ongoing sustainability of the projects.
Create awareness of these issues through advocacy, high profile partners, ambassadors and ground-breaking research to ultimately influence changes to government policy and public perceptions.
These programs are all developed in collaboration with local stakeholders to meet the cultural needs and socio economic realities of the community targeted. The growth of Football United’ occurs based on demand and requests from communities with implementation achieved through partnerships with schools, Migrant Resource Centres and other local community groups.

Football United’s strengths lie in the diversity and experience of its management team, members and supporters. Football United gathers a diverse, multi-sectoral group, combining the skills of talented corporate leaders, the commitment of a wide range of community groups, NGOs, the engagement of academia, and supported by local and state government representatives. Through this rapidly expanding network Football United fosters the power of football to inspire and promote social justice and community development.

For more information contact footballunited.org.au