Street Child World Cup
Three months before the FIFA World Cup takes over Rio, street children from 19 countries will arrive in the city to play in their very own World Cup.

For many of these children, the soccer tournament will be a first opportunity for them to be seen, heard, and to demonstrate their skills. The estimated 100 million children who live and work in the streets of the world’s cities are overlooked and ignored at best- abused, exploited and trafficked at worst. They rarely receive protection from police or judicial systems, and are denied access to any social services that require school attendance or a permanent address.

The Street Child World Cup (SCWC) was started by the Amos Trust, a small London-based human rights organization, as an effort to use the popular sport to provide a platform for street children to be heard, to change their public perception, and to help realize their rights. The inaugural tournament involved eight teams and was played ahead of the 2010 World Cup in Durban, South Africa.

“When people see us by the streets, they say that we are the street boys,” said Andile, a participant in the first SCWC tournament, according to the organization’s website. “But when they see us playing soccer, they say that we are not the street boys. They say that we are people like them. They are people like us.”

The organization has grown since its successful first World Cup, and this year will be flying 19 teams from around the world to and from Rio to compete in separate boys’ and girls’ tournaments.

Each national team is organized by a local street child NGO partnering with SCWC that supports kids before, during and after the tournament. These groups ensure that the children receive the IDs, passports and permission necessary for participation. In addition to impacting the lives of the children who participate in the tournament, SCWC seeks to use the event to raise awareness and visibility of these partner organizations and their causes.

The tournament and corresponding events will last for ten days, from March 27 through April 7. Each team will be paired with a different local school when they arrive in Brazil to participate in intercultural activities, soccer coaching and art workshops in which they will create works that depict their experiences and dreams to be displayed publicly in the city.

The 2010 tournament and resulting media coverage of the issues made great strides in transforming public perceptions of street children in South Africa and helped end police “round ups” of street children prior to international visits, according to Umthombo, SCWC’s partner organization in the area.

Children also participated in a conference to form the Durban Declaration, sharing their experiences and thoughts on key themes of home, protection from violence and access to education. The declaration was presented to the UN Committee on Human Rights along with the governments of participating countries.

This year, Street Child World Cup will be supporting Brazilian organization O Pequeno Nazareno and their campaign for a national response to street child issues in Brazil. The organization is calling on the Brazilian government to institute the first ever public policy in the world on street children.

Although policies that address child labor and abuse already exist, there is nothing in place to address the specific needs of street children. The proposal O Pequeno Nazareno and SCWC will bring to the Brazilian government includes measures on education, family life and shelters, and calls for the creation of a national data bank of street children and regulation of the social educator profession. If passed, this policy could pave the way for others like it all around the world.

To learn more visit Street Child World Cup. Donate today to support street children and their right to live safe, healthy, and happy lives.

– Sarah Morrison

Sources: Ahran Online, Jakarta Post, Street Child World Cup

Unite to End Violence Against Women UN Program Evo Morales Bolivia
Last week, Bolivian president Evo Morales and a variety of governmental and UN officials met on the Roosevelt Island Soccer Field in New York City to campaign for the UN-based initiative UNiTE to End Violence Against Women. The campaign, which has high international aims, focuses specifically on Latin America and the Caribbean, two regions with abnormally high instances of gender-based crime.

The match had a diverse group of players, influential both on the football field and in the broader context of development: the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Nicola Poposki, and two female members of parliament from Norway, Karin Andersen and Lene Vågslid. Diplomats from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Liechtenstein, Austria, and the U.S. rallied on the other side.

In conversation with the UN, Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP director for Latin America, Heraldo Muñoz, explained: “Football is a global passion and a great way to win hearts and minds, conveying the message that ‘real men don’t hit’.”

The larger program beyond the pitch deals mainly with governmental reform. Too often, cases of gender-based violence are overlooked. Instead, the UN urges governments to lead by example, exhibiting solely intolerance in regards to such violence and oppression. Criminals must be punished in order to protect the women and girls of the world.

UN global statistics reveal the urgency of this situation: globally, around 50 percent of sexual assaults are committed against girls under the age of 16. Furthermore, statistics show that problematic regions must be addressed. Over half of the countries with the highest rates of female murder are within Latin America and the Caribbean. Tellingly, such statistics exhibit the fatal consequences of tolerance.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon created the “UNiTE to End Violence Against Women” in 2008. The initiative addresses all governments, demanding the implementation of strict laws, action strategies, and overall, a larger systematic address of sexual violence by 2015.

Ultimately, football serves as a common ground between us all. Yet, so should our women and girls—for their futures are ours.

– Anna Purcell

Sources: United Nations, Global Times
Photo: Flickr

How the 2022 World Cup Could Help Alleviate Poverty
Qatar will be hosting the World Cup in 2022 which creates the problem of dealing with the high climate experienced by the region. Temperatures in Qatar reach roughly 104 Fahrenheit and while the World Cup has relatively little effect of many impoverished nations the developments made to assist in cooling the stadium could be implemented throughout the Middle East.

Nasser Al-Khelaifi, a former professional tennis player and current sports businessman, is acting as the organizing committee’s director of communications and marketing. The stadium has already had a cooling system installed which has earned it the title of being the first and only cooled stadium in the world. However, the main element of the 2022 World Cup that could help alleviate poverty is the method in which they power the cooling system.

Al-Khelaifi is working with companies in Germany to develop a more resilient solar power grid to help power the stadium. Germany has thus far been leading the way in solar power technology and should prove useful in developing a new technology to deal with the conditions of harvesting power in the desert. The main problems in harvesting solar energy in the desert are keeping the grids clean enough to run efficiently.

By working to develop grids more resistant to the harsh environment of the desert, Al-Khelaifi could be producing a useful technology to assist in powering the impoverished communities which lie in some of the world’s harshest environment.

When the new solar power grids are not using the energy gathered by the grids for the World Cup in 2022, it will be put toward powering the neighboring communities.

– Pete Grapentien

Source: Arab Times
Photo: Ahram Online

One World Futbol Spreading the Love of Soccer
Growing up, many of our toy boxes were full of tennis balls, NERF balls, and soccer balls. As no surprise, even these simple toys are expensive and hard to come by in developing countries such as Darfur and Malawi. But with soccer being the most popular sport in the world, it has come to symbolize a strong sense of community. It is an obsession and passion with children who can barely afford a meal but will scavenge through trash to find anything that could remotely serve as a makeshift soccer ball.

In 2006, Tim Jahnigen was moved by a report on children in Darfur using pieces of trash and rocks as toys. A musical producer and multi-patent holding inventor, he decided to put his connections and passion for soccer to use. With a starting grant of $30,000 from friend and fellow musician Sting, Jahnigen created a prototype for an indestructible soccer ball. Made out of a material called ‘PopFoam’ (think the flexible but tough plastic used for Crocs), these balls can be left outdoors in rough conditions, played on dirt fields, and basically be beaten up and still have a natural bounce to them. These characteristics make them perfect for the environments children play in developing countries.

Within the past two years, One World Futbol has delivered over 200,000 balls. Despite these efforts, Jahnigen is determined to reach millions, if not all 1.3 billion children under the age of 12, through his organization. With financial support from Chevrolet, manufacturing is still continuing but the organization needs much more funding.

OWF is not a non-profit. It functions more or less like TOMS Shoes does (buy-one-donate-one) so about 25% of its soccer balls have been bought through their website and delivered with this business model. However, Jahnigen is much keener on having partner organizations and donors to help with the production costs since online purchases actually cause the price of the balls to go-up.

Ever so optimistically, Jahnigen has already been in talks with creating PopFoam cricket balls, focusing specifically on the South Asian market, where cricket is widely played. With the support of five major cricket organizations for this project, it boosted Jahnigen’s confidence in not only expanding the indestructible balls to cricket but to other sports such as football, volleyball, rugby, and basketball.

With so many intensive organizations around the world, it is always important to remind ourselves how a child’s life can be so easily changed. Soccer brings together the rich and the poor, the hungry and the full, and has the power to break across political boundaries. Supporting ventures such as One World Futbol can have an immediate impact on those worried about donating their money to other causes. Humanitarian aid can take many shapes and forms but the most basic ones, whose goals are simply to bring joy to children, also have the strongest impact.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source: Co.Exist