The global streetfootballworld initiative is made up of 50 worldwide projects committed to teaching children important social issues through the sport of soccer.
Streets that were once battlefields have now become soccer pitches
The campaign for the development of youth football, streetfootballworld, promotes tolerance and diversity, intercultural learning and active participation through initiatives intended to bring communities together and connect the kicking of a ball with a social cause.
The internet portal for streetfootballworld presents the 50 global projects of the campaign. Here are a few examples of successful projects running around the world.
Peace team / Peres Centre for Peace, Israel
Established in the mid-1990's by the then Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, the Center for Peace has gone from strength to strength. Following a number of joint soccer tournaments between Palestinian and Israeli children held in September 2002, the Peres Center for Peace established the pilot project of Twinned Peace Soccer Schools in Issawiya in the occupied territories and Sderot in Israel.
The immediate success of these schools sparked plans for a far-reaching program of Twinned Peace Sport Schools throughout Palestinian and Israeli areas, with the program currently including ten Soccer Schools with the participation of over 600 Palestinian and Israeli children and youth, mainly from the lower socio-economic bracket in both communities, ranging in age from 6 to 15 years. Schools now operate in the Palestinian communities of Issawiya, Tzur Baher, Jericho, the Muslim Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, and the Israeli communities of Sderot, Kiriyat Shmona, Kiriyat Ekron, Bnei Aish, Netivot and Ofakim.
Soccer is used as a reason to bring together Palestinian and Israeli children and youth in a neutral environment. Sporting activities are then used as a tool to encourage communication, cooperation and teamwork amongst the Palestinian and Israeli participants.
The youngsters involved. The project provides the disadvantaged youths with opportunities which would otherwise not be afforded to them, such as participating in organized sports training, receiving sporting equipment, and obtaining auxiliary educational support. The program includes two training sessions per week, each of 90 minutes. Importantly, the youngsters play in mixed teams consisting of both Palestinians and Israelis on these occasions..
Search and Groom, Nigeria
The Search and Groom initiative was set up in February 2003 as a means of using the communal feeling generated by soccer to raise awareness of issues such as AIDS, a disease which has a tremendous impact on the lives of many people in Nigeria. The project also promotes ethnic harmony which has declined amongst the ethnic groups in Nigeria over the past four years. Religious tolerance is also an area Search and Groom intends to focus more in the coming months.
Soccer is the most popular game in Nigeria. It has a lot of fans and more importantly, it has always served as a unifying factor in Nigeria, as evident when the national teams play in major football championships. It is also used to promote togetherness and the project includes educational components based on ethnic harmony, research, social development and the fight against drugs among street kids.
Street football, Macedonia
The people of Macedonia have faced difficult times since the wars of the 1990's in the former Yugoslavia. After experiencing war, emotional stress and social clashes in multi-ethnic surroundings, the children of Macedonia have grown up with huge problems regarding everyday life and tolerance. The street football campaign aims to enrich the life of children and young people through soccer and to bring children with different backgrounds together from the Macedonian capital Skopje and to give them hope by playing football.
Another goal is to re-define the street life, as the children can play without special rules, but basing the game on self-defined agreements, according to their need and imagination. Another aim is to re-define the purpose of the street; to remove the dangers and fear and to give the children a chance to create a multi-ethnic society based on fair play and tolerance.
In the future, the project hopes to expand the program to the suburbs of Skopje where the need for play and joy is even more needed. In a long term perspective the organizers intend to run the project in the whole country.