It’s been two years since civil society organisations from all over the globe sent their young teams to the Football for Hope Festival in South Africa. Half way through to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, we wanted to take some time to look back and asked participating organisations from the streetfootballworld network to share the most exciting stories from the festival and their experiences of these past two years with us.
The feedback has been amazing. Most of the participants are still in contact with each other through facebook and are proud of their connections to the whole world. All of them were excited to learn about different cultures and get to know people from other parts of the world.
For many of our network members it was the first appearance on an international level. So not only did the participants gain self confidence, but also the organisations themselves. What they have in common is the value that they gained for their reputation during the festival. This still helps the organisations to approach new funders, strengthen their status in their communities and establish partnerships with the public sector.
To give you a look behind the scenes we are featuring stories from our network members. Read more on what happened from Lesotho and Kenya to Cambodia, the United States and beyond.
Kick for Life, Lesotho
For Nthona Ramphilo it was a dream come true. Travelling to Alexandra with his team mates and representing his organisation and his country Lesotho has been the adventure of a life time. Although others had a longer travel distance, Kick4Life and their participants are great examples of the kind of impact the festival in South Africa had on all participants.
Nthona made friends with people from Serbia, Brazil, America and many other places. That way the player learned to understand and interact with other people from different countries and cultures. It made Nthona realize: “With that bringing the world together, we can jointly tackle crises such as HIV/AIDS”.
The festival was often an eye opener for the participants and a chance to get a different perspective about life. One of them was Kick4Life’s young leader Lulu, who developed great leadership skills in South Africa. Coming from a patriarchal society with strict gender roles, she started to rethink her personal role. “Being in South Africa in 2010 made me realize that I as a woman have the capability to lead and make decisions.”
Moving The Goalposts, Kenya
The emotions that the first World Cup on African soil evoked among football lovers have been tremendous. It was not even important whether their own country qualified for the tournament, as it was not the case in Kenya. But the people around the country were thrilled about the tournament and the people of the small town of Kilifi had an even more special reason to be proud.
Moving the Goalpost is working in Kilifii, located on the Kenyan coast, and sent a delegation to the Football for Hope Festival. Cocky van Damme from Moving the Goalposts told us: “The input of the ten young Kilifi boys and girls was something that made our communities very proud. EEven today, people are still talking about it.”
Something that has been special in MTG’s case was that up to the festival they only worked with girls. As the festival was played in mixed teams the organisation was “forced” to include boys and MTG initiated a programme to train coaches of boys’ teams in violence prevention through football. “Suddenly more people in the communities were involved and they saw that boys could also benefit from MTG.” says Cocky van Damme . “MTG aims to work towards creating a more inclusive, just and peaceful world where girls’ and young women’s full human rights are realised and protected. In order to achieve this, the communities need to be included in MTG’s interventions.” With getting attention from the local government, the local football administration and other men’s teams the festival has been a big success and has made the hard work of MTG more effective and productive.
And what are the young participants up to? Mbeya was invited to join the Kenya National Talent Acadamy in Nairobi and is a local hero and great role model. Fathime got invited to join a school with good academic standards, was supported with an internal scholarship and became captain of their highly successful football team. Philip became an MTG ambassador in his area. Finally, the young leaderLilian Mbeyu applied successfully for the United Nations on Sport for Development and Peace Young Leaders Camp in Doha, Qatar in January 2012 and moved to a senior position as Football Coordinator at MTG.
Spirit of Soccer, Cambodia
The winning team of the Fair Play Award, Spirit of Soccer, has one of the most incredible stories to tell. After the festival in 2010 shocking news reached the streetfootballworld network and FIFA that Sengy Rydam, the Spirit of Soccer team captain, had fallen ill and needed a life saving surgery. Based on friendship the Cambodian team had formed at the festival, the Cambodian organisation raised money for Sengy to have the open-heart surgery. Without the friends he made during the festival across the world, this would not have been possible. He is now fully recovered and back to playing football.
Rachel Haig, Spirit of Soccer’s programme advisor, talked about the consequence of getting a more international perspective after the event. “Because of the festival and meeting people from around the world, most of the Cambodian team fully realise the importance of speaking English. Many of the players are studying English now, are able to communicate with their new friends around the world and are even on Facebook.”
Haeng, the young leader, had the opportunity to participate in an exchange with fellow network member KICKFAIR in Germany last summer during the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Also in Germany, but at another event, Yem Vith took part in a street football festival in summer 2011. Several of the girls who participated in the festival have had the opportunity to play on youth national teams in Cambodia and travel internationally representing their country.
Starfinder Foundation, USA
The Philadelphia-based organisation Starfinder Foundation was part of Team USA and sent two participants to Alexandra: Mustapha Alpha and Nury Ortiz got the opportunity to go to South Africa and they made the most out of it. Both of them have shown an astonishing development from being fairly shy when they came to South Africa to being full of confidence and self assurance after the festival. Both Nury and Mustapha worked in Starfinder’s summer camp as assistant coaches as soon as they returned from the festival.
“The festival opened my eyes more to society and to how people have the ability to manage their differences.” says Mustapha, who graduated from high school and continued his studies at the Community College of Philadelphia. In addition to his studies, Mustapha works at the CCP’s Business Services Center, delivering parcels and other items to various campus administrative buildings, as part of his work study program to help subsidize the cost of tuition, books and materials.
Nury just graduated from high school this past June 2012 and will start her freshman year at Albright College or Kutztown University, where she has been accepted to study Physical Therapy.
There was one particular moment at the Football for Hope Festival that has accompanied Nury along her journey to where she is today. She recounts her role in Fair Play Mediation immediately following an intense game between USA and Paraguay. Language barriers crippled some teams from directly communicating with their opponents, expressing gratitude or dissatisfaction with the sportsmanship displayed during the game. Nury translated the exchange of words for both teams – making Nury’s voice the focal point for an audience . It was a role that far exceeded her comfort level. Nury remembers being hesitant to translate for fear of unintentionally excluding vital thoughts or words that would support a person’s position. The debate lasted far beyond the post-game mediation allotted time. In addition to forcing Nury to be vocal and overcome her shyness, this experience also equipped Nury with valuable mediation skills – guiding young children through minor conflicts on the soccer field or managing all of the different personalities among peers, co-workers and authority figures.
After expressing disappointment with how she allowed her shyness to keep her from meeting new people at the festival, Nury smiled with pride when describing a personal quality developed from her experience: “I take advantage of every opportunity now, and I don’t let my shyness to hold me back.”
Upon returning from South Africa, Nury and Mustapha worked together on a
video and slide show to share their experiences at the festival. The
video featured footage taken by Nury and Mustapha during their festival
experience as well as interviews upon their return. Here is the result:
Around the world to Alex and back
Players youth leaders, mediators and heads of delegations are still remembering the Festival 2010. Read more about their experiences and what the time in Alexandra, South Africa has meant to them.
Alexandra, Johannesburg, South Africa
The Festival 2010 brought the World Cup right into the heart of Alexandra, a township of Johannesburg, South Africa. Watch a video on Alexandra after the festival produced by 19 year old Brian Mjiyakho, who got the chance to be trained by Hillside Digital in the framework of the SONY Siyakhona project to direct his first film. Mjiyakho won the HIVsport / EuropeAID - Sport and HIV film competition with his clip!
“I continue to learn a lot, but for me, Africa was like an encyclopaedia that I had never accessed before, even though my ancestors were African and came to Brazil as slaves. In an exchange like the Football for Hope festival the lessons go beyond the common and ordinary education.
Lessons from the festival give a global perspective to everything we know from geography to music and dialects. I will never forget the African dialects and songs that we learned with other network members and that I brought back home with me and that remain part of the repertory of songs that the kids I work with know as well.
With the knowledge I acquired I was able to develop different programmes and several workshops for the development of young mediators throughout the state of Maranhao. I am often in touch with people from all over the world through email, Skype and Facebook.” Diane Sousa, mediators’ team, Instituto Formação
Soccer in the Streets – Team USA
The experiences of the participants are the greatest legacy of the festival. ”The hardest part of the tournament was saying goodbye, but the best part was remembering all of the memories you've created that will stick with you forever. I've made lasting friendships that span the globe. Who in this world today has the opportunity to say I've made friends with a person from Australia, Senegal, and the UK?” recalls Malaika Nicholas about her experience.
Katelyn Longino adds “I am still very involved with Soccer in the Streets through coaching and refereeing. I'm truly grateful for the great opportunities that they have provided me with. Not only has it kept me out of trouble but it has allowed me to develope into the person I am today. The memories that were created in South Africa will last forever!”
Kalim Sports Council
Participating in the 2010 festival was a great success for Kalim Sports Council, said Kelly Kaila Jones from Kalim Sports Council. The Zambian organisation developed partnerships with African and European organisations, sharing knowledge and best practices.
The young footballers who participated in the festival carry on their experience to the young boys and girls in the communities and became role models in the academy and the community.
Sport against Racism - SARI
“At grassroots, the influence of the returning participants spreading the word about their involvement in the festival has created further awareness about SARI and FFH. I thought the festival was fantastic, an incredible experience for the participants that they will never forget. And it has also helped SARI to grow as an organisation. I think it is a vital aspect of Football for Hope in terms of developing ongoing communication, growth and success within the 'football for social development' movement.” Perry Ogden, Chairman SARI
The festival has provided a boost for BUSA’s programmes. The number of young people involved in their football for development activities has grown by over 28%! BUSA’s festival team members have gained great team leadership abilities and are now leading and managing youth groups themselves.
Having used the skills she learned during the Siyakhona project, Helen Mubanga went from being a team member to the current BUSA photographer and U17 Zambian national team player.
At Altus-Sport-Vuma, all festival participants are still involved in the programmes working as coaches and volunteers in their communities. “They are looking forward to the 2014 Brazil Festival and this possibility serves as a great incentive to remain involved,” says Gert Potgieter from Altus Sport.
During the Festival, 15 year old Lerato won the SONY Siyakhona competition with her wonderful photo contribution. Today SONY sponsors Altus Sport’s annual photo competition!
Coaching for Hope
Jane Carter, Director of Coaching for Hope reports: “The Young Leaders from Mali have really had a tough time lately due to political turbulence in their country and withdrawal of many NGOs and funders making life more difficult than ever. However the experience of solidarity they had during the Festival has kept their spirits high and in July this year ten of them will be travelling to Burkina Faso to help train a new cohort of young leaders from that country.
The adventure of travelling to South Africa and meeting counterparts from all over the world has given them huge confidence and optimism for the future and they are now ready to step up and face any challenge which meets them.”
The significant public recognition before, during and after the festival enabled Football United to collaborate with the national football federation and to secure new partnerships which made it possible for the organisation to expand.
“The Football for Hope Festival has had a tremendous impact on my life. It has let me find out who I am and what I can do to make difference in my community, my country and the world. The Football for Hope Festival 2010 was an inspiration for lots of youngsters especially for disadvantaged people who were about to lose their hope to live a life and do something great. Thank you Football United! Thank you Football for Hope Festival!” said Hem Anta, team member from Football United.
MYSA’s team were crowned champions at the festival, and team members experienced a wonderful time in South Africa. All young people are still involved in MYSA’ s activities as coaches and staff members.
Sadly, team member Richard Onyongo passed away in September 2011 due to a lung failure which could not be treated in time. Richard will be greatly missed in the community where MYSA continues to work on a better future for the young people.
KICKFAIR still benefits from the festival in terms of communications, international collaboration and networking. Since the festival, the organisation has set up strong partnerships within the streetfootballworld network working together with organisations from Rwanda to Chile.
A festival participant commented enthusiastically, „the festival has been amazing, I can’t describe how much it gave me and what an experience it has been. I would go again anytime.”
Search and Groom
Most of the participants from the festival are now enrolled in college, a big step for young people in Nigeria. All of them still volunteer for Search and Groom and support the organisation in their communities.
The Peres Center for Peace - The Peace Team
The festival inspired the Peres Center for Peace to integrate football3 into their approach.
For Special Olympics Namibia as the host of the The
Katutura Football for Hope Centre, the festival boosted the participation of the local community. “We have a greater impact now with more young people coming
to the centre and participating in Football,” says Charles Nyambe.
National Director of the Special Olympics Mauritius, Jose Luximon
shared his account of the festival stating,“The experience at the
festival has definitely enriched the participants experience and has
also built their personality. The festival is indeed a powerful event
for our young leaders and it gives strong philosophical messages. For us
the festival was great, congratulations to the organizers. Even after
two years, it is still fresh in our memories and inspiring.”
This festival was a remarkable event for the athletes and coaches of Special Olympics South Africa. “The athletes not only had the time of their lives but they also learned about good sportsmanship, good team camaraderie and how to socially interact with fellow athletes,” said Sharda Naidoo, the team’s coach at the festival.