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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/
David Evennett, MP, Acting Minister for Sport, Heritage and Tourism, talks to the National Children’s Football Alliance about the Peace Fields Project (PFP) and the impact on the legacy of the First World War’s centenary years.
To support the Peace Fields Project, click here for more information on how to twin your school’s or club’s football pitch with Flanders Peace Field, site of the First World War, 1914, Christmas Truces
Yamam Nabeel – FC Unity – Founder and Chief Executive
“Shaab Stadium 19 December 17th 2008: Standing on the playing field of Iraq’s Sha’ab National Stadium surrounded by young people from all the different communities of the capital, I was once again filled with hope. A few months ago these young men would have put their lives at risk by simply taking part in this game with youngsters from different ethnic and religious backgrounds. On this day – they stood with me as one nation – united on the famous field that all young Iraqis dream of playing on.”
Q.Please can you introduce yourself to the NCFA? A brief profile; history, what do you do? Where do you work and why do you do it?
My name is Yamam Nabeel, I am the founder of FC UNITY. I was born in Iraq and moved to Europe at the age of 4 when my family went into exile, my father was an outspoken critic of the Ba’athist regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. I grew up in Hungary, where I started playing football at youth level. We moved to the UK in 1992, where I completed my A-levels and attended university. I worked as a television producer until 2003 when I interviewed the former German coach of the Iraq National football team Bernd Stange. We became friends and I organised The Goodwill UK Tour of the Iraq Team in May 2004. Organising the tour became a full-time job and at the end of it I created FC Unity. FC Unity provides a platform for education and development through large-scale football events organised by a diverse group of locals. It helps people overcome barriers and learn to work together. It brings together the private and public sectors together with the communities in order to empower locals and create healthier communities.
Q. What or who is your biggest inspiration and why?
My father, who spent his life fighting for freedom and liberty of Iraqis, taught me to always be guided by strong principles. He is still very much my guide and mentor.
Q. Where and how did the concept for the FC Unity come about – why is the organisation not funded by professional football in Britain?
FC UNITY was born after the success of the Goodiwll UK Tour of the Iraq national team and it came about with the support of Sven Goran Eriksson. Our first large-scale event was the UNITY Cup London, which was launched in 2007 and became an annual fixture for 7 years. The main concept was a community football tournament organised by a diverse group of young Londoners. It bring London’s various communities together through a series of football events based in the capital organise, managed and hosted by young people. Having dealt with the professional side of football and experienced their agenda, we did not see fit to even attempt to fund FC Unity through them.
Q. Can you briefly explain the kind of organisation FC Unity?
FC UNITY is a social enterprise, it isa limited company with an internal mission of re-investing any profits back into projects. It’s aim is to create local events, for local people, empowering, developing and employing locals. To date we have hosted programmes in the UK and Iraqi primarily but also in Sudan, Ghana, Somalia and Djibouti.
Q. Why do feel the National and International Children’s Football Alliance is a good partnership with FC Unity?
WE share the same ethos of grass-roots football and it’s power to be a platform for education and development and as a great uniter of people. The Children’s Football Alliance works with local communities and for local communities which is rare these days of “ticking-the-right-boxes” culture. The Alliance works to achieve tangible results and we believe that a partnership will strengthen both organisations and help empower more communities globally.
Q. How will the Peace Fields Project support your work and where will it be applied?
FC UNITY’s main remit in Iraq is to provide a platform for conflict resolution and help build peace through the next generations. The Peace Fields will provide a long-term organised programmes for young Iraqis to take ownership and help create national unity.
Q. Who are FC Unity’s main participants and how do they benefit?
FC UNITY is an inclusive organisation, it about people, from all backgrounds. Primarily our target participants are young people, men and women from the ages of 16. Our aim in the UK is to engage with and empower and bring together minority communities with mainstream British society.
Q. What has been FC Unity’s biggest success story to date?
Our proudest moment was the TeamIraq – Unity Cup festival in Iraq in May 2009, which was month-long festival with finals over 2 days in Baghdad’s Sh’aab (national) statidum, with over 5,000 young Iraqis coming together.
We are also very proud of the 7-year run of the UNITY Cup London, which was never funded (apart from the 2010 event) and provided an opportunity for young Londoners to come together and celebrate diversity.
For more information click on FC Unity
Q.Please can you introduce yourself to the NCFA? A brief profile; history, what do you do? Where do you work and why do you do it?
My name is Tim Jahnigen and I am the Founder and Chief Innovation Officer at the One World Play Project. But really, I often say that I’m “more idiot than savant!” I’ve always been artistic and creative. Before I started this company with my wife, Lisa, who is our Chief Giving Officer, we had another startup based on a breakthrough medical technology I came up with and before, during and still do, I am blessed to be a lyricist with collaborators many places including NY, LA, Nashville and the UK.
Our main offices are in Berkeley CA, where I live but I travel a lot and we have field offices in Africa and Asia.
We are privileged to do what we do because we feel that we have created a simple solution to many of the complex problems that children around the world face on a daily basis.
Q. What or who is your biggest inspiration and why?
I am inspired by so many different things and people it’s almost impossible to name them all, but really, and sincerely, my biggest inspiration comes from children of the world who live in the most challenging places through no fault of their own followed by the people who work with them through the power of play organized under the idea known as Sport for Peace and Development.
But one name stands out for me in this context, and that is the great Arthur Wharton, England’s first professional black footballer. He was so far ahead of his time in terms of skill, personal character and for using his celebrity and extraordinary athleticism to serve humanity in times of crisis and need. In fact, he set the bar so high, it is unlikely that one can find anyone today who has given so much and in so many ways.
Q. Where and how did the concept for the One World Futbol come about – why is the organisation now called One World Play Project?
The One World Futbol was inspired by a heartbreaking news piece about the plight of traumatized children in places like Durfur and other war zones and learning that the unique and universal ability unstructured play has to help children and adults heal and recover their humanity.
Though the ball itself ended up becoming the first fundamental change in ball design and technology in almost a thousand years, and while it is a regulation Size 5 and weight for football, it is meant more than just one sport. It is for any form of play that children might want to use it for. We’ve also discovered the broader and ultimately more powerful impact that play itself, in all its forms, has in all human development and the need for other durable balls and products that serve our biological needs in this area, we realized that being called the One World Futbol Project was simply too limited in scope and that we needed to embrace and promote the fuller spectrum of play by including it in our name.
Q. Can you briefly explain the kind of organisation OWPP is?
Well, once the ball and it’s unique technology was sorted, we needed to decide how best to structure our venture. After months of research and evaluation we discovered a new concept that was a beautiful blend of social impact and agile entrepreneurialism called B Corporations. B Corps subscribe to what is known as the triple bottom line of People, Planet and Profit. It is a rapidly growing global business movement that uses business as a force for good and to show that you can do well and do good at the same time.
To that end, among many other innovations we represent, we are an early adopter of the Buy One Give One business model where for every ball purchased one is donated to an organization or community somewhere in a war zone, refugee camp, disaster area or one of the 80 known UN hotspots around the world.
Q. Why do feel the National and International Children’s Football Alliance is a good fit with OWPP?
To me, the National and International Children’s Football Alliance are a premier example of Sport for Peace and Development at it’s best and it is simply one of our greatest privileges to support it’s vitally important work by giving it footballs that are so durable that they allow the organization to focus on it’s mission, message and programs rather than having to constantly replace balls.
Q. How will the Peace Poppy Ball help the Peace Fields Project?
Our goal is provide a durable tool and delivery system for not just history, but knowledge and wisdom, as well as leaving a lasting symbol of the unimaginable sacrifices made on the hallowed ground of Flanders Fields. It seems that a partnership between One World Play Project the I/NCFA and the Peace Fields brings together all the elements of the Contextualization Process that the NCFA are known for: Space, Time and Place.
Q. How has the world of professional football received the peace poppy ball?
Maybe that question will be best answered by history a few years from now.
Q. How many footballs have been distributed and to which countries?
We are proud that through our Buy One Give One model and our pioneering development of marketing sponsorships, beginning with our founding sponsor, Chevrolet, we’ve been able to deliver just over 1.5 million One World Futbols through approximately 50,000 different NGO’s, non-profits and various other aid organizations in approximately 175 countries to just over 45 million children and adults.
For more information on ONE WORLD PLAY PROJECT
Black football heroes have been celebrated in a unique new book with contributions by students from Sandwell College. The very first book to celebrate the enormous contribution made by black footballers to the English game over the past 125 years was launched at The Hawthorns, home of West Bromwich Albion FC, with a special signing by trailblazing legends Cyrille Regis and Brendan Batson. Sixth form and photography students scoured their parents’ and grandparents’ attics, ebay and antique shops for memorabilia to contribute to the book and researched player profiles as part of their workgroup tasks.
Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Black Football Heritage Book has been compiled by Jim Cadman and features original photographs, statistics, memorabilia and illustrations. Among the football pioneers featured are Arthur Wharton, who became the world’s first black professional player when he signed for Rotherham United in 1889, and West Bromwich Albion icons Laurie Cunningham, Brendon Batson and Cyrille Regis.
Lord Herman Ouseley, chairman of Kick It Out, has written the foreword to the book and the first copy to be printed has been sent to the Center for Civil and Human Rights in the US city of Atlanta, at the request of Martin Luther King III.
Jim Cadman said: “The book examines the heritage created by over 50 individual black footballers, many of whom ignored racism on the terraces and became role models and mentors for future generations. We hope that it will encourage and stimulate readers to look further into the careers and achievements of these remarkable players.
“The students got valuable skills from this project and they learned what it was like to be a team player.
“The showcase in Atlanta is a big step from this contribution by Sandwell College students.”
The Black Football Heritage book is being distributed free of charge to schools, academies, libraries, community groups, youth groups, football clubs at grass roots level and voluntary organisations throughout the country.
For more information on please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Interview with Jim Cadman
Q. When did you first have the idea for the book – what was you primary influence?
JC. The book was inspired by the 125th anniversary of Arthur Wharton signing for Rotherham Town in 1889 to become the world’s first Black professional footballer and realising that it had taken 90 years before Cyrille Regis, Brendon Batson and Laurie Cunningham had provided the motivation for young black players to become professional footballers. In addition there is an enormous gap in the market for this type of book.
Q. In your speech at the launch you mentioned that the book would raise more questions than give answers, was that your intention and why?
JC. The biographies of the players are short and compact and we want to encourage people to research the deeper background for themselves.
Q. How important was it to have students of Sandwell College involved in the book and why?
JC. This is a quote from Steve Powell, Sandwell College’ Vice Principal ” Sandwell College is extremely proud to have been involved in the production of the Black Football Heritage book . It is a project which has captured the enthusiasm of both students and staff, which has both helped promote and celebrate the diversity of our college and the community .The project has enabled our students to develop employability skills in developing writing skills, photographic abilities, illustration and design and interviewing skills. Our students can justifiably feel proud about the contribution they have made in producing a book of such high quality
Q. What was the lowest point for you personally in the project and what was the highest point in the project?
JC. No low points but the positive reaction from the Professional Footballers Association, The Football Association, Lord Ouseley at Kick it Out and Martin Luther King III has be very rewarding.
Q. To what extent do you feel The Black Football Heritage book can inspire young people?
JC. The book has already inspired readers and students to look at their own heritage and link it with the plight of black footballers. We have encouraged them to talk with parents and grand parents to create an inter generational understanding. There are many examples of individuals in the book who have provided inspiration.
Q. Why do you think it’s taken over a hundred years to acknowledge black footballers in the form of a book?
JC. I am at a loss to understand but let us hope that this will in a small way provide a spring board for more focus in this area and convert the rhetoric into action.
JC. Present day footballers are featured in the book including Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck from Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion striker Saido Berahino, who is currently the leading English goalscorer in the Premier League.
Q. In your opinion do think the custodians clearly get it in terms of black footballers heritage in the English game?
JC. This situation is improving as the FA recently unveiled a statue of Arthur Wharton, who will also be honoured with a statue outside Rotherham United FC created by Graham Ibbeson, the sculptor behind the statues of Eric Morecambe, Dickie Bird. Graham is also currently working on the Celebration Statue, a permanent tribute to iconic West Brom players Laurie Cunningham, Cyrille Regis and Brendon Batson which will be unveiled in West Bromwich town centre in spring 2015
Q. Can you tell us how important you feel the timing of this book is in terms of all matters equality in football and institutional racism in the sport?
JC. The timing is pertinent as the global game is still plagued by racism. Only this week CSKA Moscow played Manchester City behind closed doors following racist chanting by their fans.
Q. In the light of the Premier League and the win at all costs culture that the professional game continues to court, do you feel that The Black Football Heritage Book resonates more with people up against the odds, if so why?
JC. I hope that the book will appeal to all sectors of society, though of course the stories of the players featured will resonate with people who have suffered racism during their lives, whether they were born in Britain or have moved here from overseas.
To order your FREE single copy email: email@example.com
Schools, charities and not for profit organisations place your FREE order by emailing the NCFA: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Both sides singing…My orders to the Coy. [Company]…are not to start firing unless the Germans do”. Captain A.S Bates, commanding No 4 Company, 1/5th London Regiment (4th Division), France, 24 December 1914.
100 years ago this December guns fell silent on the Western Front during the Christmas Truce of 1914. Soldiers from both sides exchanged seasonal greetings, songs and gifts, while some participated in games of football on “no man’s land”. Such gestures of humanity amidst the chaos and carnage of the battlefield serve to highlight the brutality of war and the sacrifice made by so many. This centenary year, a number of events are taking place up and down the country to fittingly commemorate this milestone in history.
Last week Maidstone United’s Gallagher stadium played host to a Football and Peace day organised by the National Children’s Football Alliance. As the MP for Maidstone and in my role as Minister for Sport and the minister leading the Government’s First World War commemorations, I was honoured to be a part of this initiative. Pupils from five schools across Kent were joined by students from Germany to partake in friendly games of football and cricket, among others.
Kent students have also been researching the local impact of the war and the role of sport in war and peace, thanks to a £32,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Their work was exhibited on the day and it was fascinating to learn more about Kent’s contribution to the Great War.
Football and Peace day perfectly embodies our focus for the centenary on remembrance, education and youth. It’s vital that this generation appreciates the sacrifice made by so many men and women, a sacrifice that has shaped the world we live in. The peace we enjoy today is perhaps taken for granted, but for soldiers on the frontline that Christmas 1914, it was but a momentary reprieve.
Click on the link below to view the Football & Peace Film featuring an interview with the Minister for Sport.
*** COPYRIGHT KENT MESSENGER GROUP FOR THE USE OF The National Children’s Football Alliance USE ONLY ON THEIR WEB SITE REMAINS THE COPYRIGHT OF THE KMG AT ALL TIMES 01622 794667
Mick Gale (MG) is a classic example of all that is good in football. NCFA Directer, Ernie Brennan first met Mick on one of the first FA Module 3 age appropriate courses, in Kent, England. ‘Mick left an impression on me which very few people do. I can only describe him as the Salt of the Earth with a knowledge and understanding of the game, second to none’. Ernie Brennan. The NCFA sent Mick a number of quick fire questions – here are his on target answers.
Q. Please can you introduce yourself to the NCFA? A brief profile; history, what do you do? Where do you work and why do you do it?
MG. Born in Surrey,UK. Played professionally, coached on all 5 continents, teacher trained. Currently National development Centre (NDC) in Canada with the best elite youngsters, boys and girls. Why do I do it…… I still love the game.
Q. Can you discuss to what degree is football/soccer part of the fabric of children’s sport in Canada?
MG. Football in Canada is not only the fastest growing sport but its participants are more than ice hockey and basketball combined. The girls game has been well established for some years and they are amongst the leaders on the world stage. It’s a newer sport for the boys and each school now has soccer pitches which wasn’t the case 10 years ago , and has become part of the national curriculum.
Q. What are the major issues in children’s / youth football in Canada? Do they compare with UK? If so, to what degree and if not, why do you think there is a difference?
MG. Geographically Canada is the world’s largest country and children from rural areas suffer because of the distances required to travel. Kids can start 3v3 age 5 and progress through minis /recreational/developmental to elite levels. Although numbers are not as great as UK, we have seen qualifications for world cups over the last few years. Due to the extreme cold over the long winters, the oputdoor season is very short. Indoor centres are now coming on line creating far more opportunities.
Q. In your experience how complicated has the game of football become? Is it the same game you started coaching in your younger days? What are the similarities and what are now the differences?
MG. Basically it is still the same game. When I was a kid it was all about fitness and enthuisiasm. Now, however, with sport scientists it’s more about correct technique as well as tactical awareness, psychology, nutrition and prevention of injury. A few years ago I knew everything in the coaching world! With the advent of therapists and scientists I now know far less and need to continually re-educate to stay on top of the game.
Q. To what extent does Canadian Football / Soccer integrate on a social inclusion level in the community and on a national scale?
MG. Social inclusion in Canada is country wide as they are brought up in such a multicultural society it means all kids are given equal opportunities to participate from local through provincial to national levels.
Q. Do you feel as strongly about football now as you maybe did as a child? If so why and if no, why not?
MG. Yes , more strongly now. It was great fun as a kid and has become an all consuming passion as I’ve learnt more.
Q. In your opinion, how significant to football is the 1914 Christmas Truce?
MG. Greatly significant in Canada. WW1 is history taught in schools and the Christmas truce for football is the highlight. In contrast to the UK where few kids have even heard of the truce.
Q. Can you tell the National Children’s Football Alliance why you think it is important that children learn about the Christmas Truce and Why?
MG. Nowadays everybody should know about the Christmas truce. It was an event that stopped the conflict and provided sport as a unifier. What an example of how to overcome political differences. The Canadians have a far greater respect for such matters and are ‘more English than the English’.
by Laura Dutton
This is me
I’m 31 years old – Mum to Matthew, aged 9 and we live just outside of Chester – over the border into North Wales. I work full time in the marketing department at MoneySupermarket.com and started blogging at as ‘British Soccer Mom’ in October, 2012 as a commentary to my hours spent standing on the sideline watching my son play football! My life has always revolved around football as I was taken to watch Chester City FC. by my Dad at the age of 9 and have been going ever since! I met Matthew’s Dad on the terraces at Chester and now our son plays for the club’s youth academy which the family is hugely proud of!
Parenting; I have wanted to start a blog for a while now but I was struggling to find a topic that wasn’t simply parent blogging for the sake of it! I wanted to have a useful, worthwhile message to my writing and my inspiration came after seeing the enthusiasm of the country after the London Olympics. I combined my own personal love of sports with my strong belief that children should be leading a healthy, active lifestyle and created my ‘British Soccer Mom’ persona which is a parody of how I see myself and my dedication to watching my son play the game!
When I started my blog I wanted to make connections with parents who have children involved in sport so we could swap ideas, tips and advice. I’ve found some great places to hang out, in particular SportsMums.co.uk and through my @britsoccermom Twitter account, I have connected with parents, organisations and individuals who promote and believe in the same issues as me – healthy lifestyles for our children, vital sports funding, positive role models and grassroots football. I’ve had a brilliant response with my articles being re-tweeted and published across the web. My article about ‘Defibrillators on Sports Fields’ was re-tweeted by Fabrice Muamba and I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing ex England player Ray Wilkins, who said he loved my blog!
Glad to be of service
I blog about a whole variety of topics themed around sports. Some have a serious message that I’m keen to promote, like my article on Defibrillators. Some are informative and useful like my article on fundraising and some are humorous like my ‘10 tips on how to be the Perfect Soccer Mom’ – and I always like to throw a some Soccer Mom fashion tips in there too! I’m not a company trying to push a corporate message to make a business, nor am I a personal blogger that rambles on aimlessly! I like to highlight sporting issues that concern children and open them up for discussion on my blog where anyone is welcome to comment.
Solution Solution Solution
Leading an active lifestyle is a habit that needs to be practiced at a very early age and as adults we need to ensure that this activity is enjoyable for our children. How many people do you speak to who shudder when asked about their school PE lessons? Many people recall military style PE teachers and humiliation as they struggled to ‘hop, skip and jump’ in front of the rest of the class. Children should be grouped according to ability as they are in the academic subjects and bought on at their own pace before they make the association between exercise and humiliation. I believe the national curriculum should introduce and hour of constructive, enjoyable exercise every day as it’s become clear that many parents can’t be relied on to encourage an active lifestyle at home with nearly a third of primary school children now considered obese.
To encourage parents to take an active approach to their child’s health. As parents it’s our job to open doors for our children in regards finding out what sporting activities are available to them in their local area. If your son or daughter is no good at kicking a ball, they might be brilliant at climbing a rope, balancing on a beam or throwing some great dance moves! Find out what your child enjoys doing and try and hook them up to a club where they’ll enjoy weekly training sessions and reap the benefits from being part of a team. Our children can’t initiate this themselves so we need to be the active ones and push them to realise their potential.
If you would like to contact Laura about this article please email
Hanspeter Rothmund is a social entrepreneur who has co-ordinated children’s football projects in Sudan, Kosovo and Palestine. Football Is More hosted the Together We Are Stronger International Forum in Switzerland where a number of major football organisations and NGOs discussed the importance of a role model. Hanspeter very kindly replied to the following questions;
Q. Can you tell National Children’s Football Alliance members a little about Football Is More? What are the ultimate aims that FIM would like to achieve?
HP. The Foundation aims to continue supporting children and young people in difficult circumstances through specific sporting activities.
“BRING HOPE INTO THEIR HEARTS”
- FIM recently hosted the first ever Together We Are Stronger International Forum at the
Q. Grand Hotel in Bad Ragaz, Switzerland. How successful was the forum and what kind of feedback did you receive?
HP. Having seen the diverse multifaceted presentations and discussions about “Role Models ‘ Examples from the World of Football” there remains the impressive understanding: a huge number of organisations and institutions from around the world are committed to the well-being, encourage all children and young people in areas hit by crisis and war. The common ground and basis of all initiatives are the unifying and inspiring force and emotionality of a true world sport ‘ football.
We could achieve our target to its full extent. The feedback we received was very positive, and the majority of delegates would like to join the next forum.
- FIM awards ceremony recognised the community work of Liverpool Football Club and the corporate social responsibility of Real Madrid’s world-wide work. How important is it for professional football clubs promote social inclusion?
HP. People are highly social; they generally belong to a group. This may make a positive or a negative impact on young people.
Football and the big clubs play an important role in this point.
They can, with their social work and their behavior towards their fellow men, play an important role regarding education, development and integration. We hope to celebrate the good work football clubs achieve at top level and grass roots level, they are the same.
Q. The role model theme at the Forum was brilliantly illustrated by Don Mullen Irish author of ‘The Boy Who Wanted to Fly’ when he gave an emotional speech about his role model Gordon Banks. Why do you think role models are important in the game?
HP. Parents and educators have a limited impact on their children regarding the choice of their role models. Children can have difficult choices and some role models can be challenging which can be a concern. Learning from role models, especially complex figures that are still maturing in public arenas, needs the sport to provide guidance; for instance, social responsibilities, public service and promoting fair play on and off the pitch. Furthermore, high profile role models’ behavior towards specific persons or groups can have a massive positive effect and we need to nurture this. Children aspire to GREATNESS, including these of football stars. A football star should be aware of his role! The forum was about people and organisations which brought and still bring an exemplary service free of selfish motives for young people from troubled or peripheral regions or young people with or without disability. This work is getting more and more important in today’s society.
Q. Can you tell us about the previous projects undertaken in Kosovo, Sudan, Israel/Palestine and Sierra Leone? What do these projects have in common?
HP. Football is the engine to implement social aspects. Football is a school of life! When playing football, the skin colour, the religion and gender is irrelevant. This tool can and should be used to help young people with development and furtherance.
This is just the way the projects were planned and conducted. Notwithstanding that every region had different problems; the work could be conducted in a long-term and successful way. The key is football to unlock the door to development.
Q. How can clubs and other organisations support the good work of FIM?
HP. “together we are stonger”
The organisations need to communicate more with each other and could eventually work on common projects. A visit of the next International Forum would be very helpful. Keep in touch with our website http://footballismore.org/index.html
The clubs and NGO’s can touch base with us and we try to establish the right connections.
Q. Who are the volunteers that support FIM and what do they bring to the Foundation?
For our projects we rely on volunteers in different areas. Longer personal commitments are acknowledged through FOOTBALL IS MORE reports and certificates. Without our volunteers, some of our projects could not be implemented. Our volunteers are very important to us.
Q. FIM Patron Wilfred Lemke, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, appealed to the delegates to support the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Are their plans for FIM to support MDG, if so, how?
HP. We consider the MDG in each project and try to implement them successfully. We are very proud of the work of the UN in sport for Development FIM hope to support this with our projects.
Q. As you know FIM share many aims of the NCFA. You state that FIM aim to, ‘Provide conditions in order to reach concrete social projects realistically. Projects, which focus on the integration of disadvantaged children and young people’. How do you intend to go about this good work in the current economic climate?
HP. That’s a good question. Indeed, the economic situation is not really good. But we know that especially in such hard times people are moving towards each other and searching for solutions. This is why we hope to work with the NCFA and explore how we can make a difference.
Q. As you know providing a voice for children in football is no easy task. How do you think FIM and NCFA can make governments sit up and actively support our work on an international level?
HP. I believe that we have to continue our work and engage the politics at a level where they can support projects. They have to feel that some problems cannot be resolved on a political level, but with football it is possible.
Q. In your opinion is there scope for an International Children’s Football Alliance that could represent children on a global platform? An organisation that supports the world’s extended children’s football family and reinforces all the good work being done by organisations such as FIM.
HP. NCFA should ally with international organisations. I very much hope that FIM and NCFA implement some great projects.
Q. Is there a FIM project that we can lookout for in the future and how might we be able to support it?
HP. FIM is strongly focused on the integration/migration of disabled and non-disabled young people.
With the partnership programme of FOOTBALL IS MORE, clubs and NGOs will be supported in order to help them in their work with disabled young people. The focus is on the exchange of knowledge, the development and the promotion of the integration of young disabled people within clubs. It is this aspect that I believe we can achieve with collaboration.