Monday, August 30, 2010

"Changing Lives Through Football" Competition Encourages Civic Engagement through Sport

by Christina Malliet

Co-hosts Nike and Ashoka Changemakers recently announced the winners for a global competition that unified the themes of sport, youth development and community involvement. The competition, called “Changing Lives through Football,” asked for proposals for projects that use football (soccer) to encourage unity and social change, especially among youth.

Running in conjunction with the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the competition generated significant interest and received nearly 300 entries from places as far as Rwanda and Iraq to those as close as New York City. Three global winners and three regional winners, from Brazil, the UK and Africa, were announced August 25 on the Changemakers website.

The Grand Prize Global Winner entry, which intends to overcome discrimination and raise awareness for people living with HIV/AIDS, was submitted by the Indonesia-based organization Rumah Cemara. This entry was selected due to its potential for growth beyond the conceptual stage; Rumah Cemara implemented the idea over two years ago and has already seen its project significantly impact the West Java community it serves. The organization supports six teams of people living with HIV, which play against teams not from the HIV community. The weekly matches improve the confidence and health of those living with HIV, while raising awareness for others in the community. Rumah Cemara received $30,000 to fund their continued efforts.

Other winners include the Guatemalan organization love.fĂștbol, whose project aims to build soccer fields for at-risk youth to keep them off the streets and give them new opportunities, and FC Unity’s “Team Iraq”, designed to unite youth of different religious backgrounds and prevent future violence and extremism.

This promising competition draws attention to the ever-present necessity of engaging youth everywhere in their communities. The winning organizations encourage young people to get involved by speaking in the unifying language of sport.

Photo credit here.

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