Mar(k): Travel, Hiking, and "Doing Good"

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

“Play Soccer” Scores a Goal!

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By Mark Shircore

published in February 2010 edition of The ADVOCATE

"Football for Hope" gives these children something to smile about!

“Play Soccer”, an organisation working with children and youth in Ghana, has received wonderful recognition for the work they are doing from none other than FIFA. As part of the 2010 World Cup Campaign, FIFA has established an initiative called “Football for Hope”, which will fund 20 centres across Africa where football will be used to promote health and social development. The $250,000 sports facility to be built in Cape Coast will have a mini-pitch, health, counselling and educational services for children and youth. These services will be extended to the whole community, not just the children involved in the Play Soccer programme. “It’s exciting because we are one of the first six that will have the centre built for them” stated Mr. Kodwo Morgan, Play Soccer’s Program Director. “For us it’s a solid endorsement of the quality program we deliver and we are very proud of it”.

Since its tentative beginnings in 2001, Play Soccer has dealt with more than 5000 children and currently has nearly 900 youngsters participating in its programs across 11 sites in the Ashanti, Central, Eastern and Greater Accra regions. “What we do is to use football as a tool to provide children, between the ages of 4 – 15, in disadvantaged communities with health, social and soccer skills”, explained Mr. Morgan. “Our program is activity based and operates year round in the communities through weekly sessions and has a well defined 48-week curriculum”. The objective of Play Soccer’s work is to equip the children with life skills which can also be used to assist in the development of their communities.

Another benefit of the program is that the weekly sessions are handled by youth volunteers, who are given training by Play Soccer to prepare them for their roles as instructors not only in football, but also in health and education. As instructors, the young boys and girls expand their knowledge and develop leadership skills which enrich their lives and help prepare them for employment.

This year is obviously going to be very exciting year for “Play Soccer” and in addition to opening the new Football for Hope Centre in Cape Coast, they are also hoping to have the Play Soccer programme recorded and shown on various television networks in the country. “We also want to work towards getting more girls involved in the programme” said Mr. Morgan. “Presently we have 16% of our total number being girls. We want to bring this number to 30% this year. Girls are very instrumental in the development of communities so the more girls we have the better for us in meeting our goals”.

Play Soccer demonstrates that you can deliver development messages through sport

Ongoing funding continues to be an issue for Play Soccer and each year they must work hard to solicit funds to enable their programmes to run. Also, they have no vehicle of their own, so they must rely on public transport to visit the widely spaced locations where Play Soccer operates. Mr. Morgan is firmly of the opinion that in addition to putting money into formal education, government and district assemblies should be supporting programmes that have demonstrated they can successfully deliver development messages through sport. “Children love sports and when you talk about soccer it is the most popular game in the world. We need to look at this concept critically, identify the NGO’s that are really working and support them in their work”. What a fitting sentiment in the year that the world cup is finally coming to Africa!


Written by Mar(k)

February 8, 2010 at 10:59 am

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