Forming the youth through football
Forming the youth through football
Another non-profit, non-government organisation dedicated to using sport and the power of play to inspire, empower and transform the lives of children affected by extreme poverty, natural disasters and armed conflict is Football For Humanity (FFH) led by founder Chris Thomas, a British national.
FFH initiatives include building football infrastructures such as its existing unique small-sided, five-a-side enclosed spaces. It also establishes football development programmes, conducts one-off football trainings and events, donates old and new football equipment, assists talented but underprivileged youth to seek scholarships, and other charitable initiatives that may be implemented by its partners who are themselves NGOs engaged in social development programmes all over the country.
Like the Henry V. Moran Foundation (THVMF), FFH tries to partner always with other foundations involved in community-building. For example, FFH launched what it calls Play for Goals, an expanded community development programme which, in addition to the building of a community small-sided pitch, also provides a library and a clean water facility that addressed the educational, health, and well-being needs of the community. For this project, FFH partnered with Library Renewal Partners and Waves for Water in bringing these facilities to marginalised communities all over the Philippines, starting with Zonta Village in Barangay Tibungco, Davao City.
FFH has strong international connections. Recently, it received donations of “unpoppable” soccer balls from One World Play, the creator of the unpoppable balls which serve as a “solution for kids living in harsh conditions where standard soccer balls do not last long.” One World Play has distributed over 2 million balls benefitting over 60 million youth whose lives are empowered and enriched by playing football.
This initial donation is currently being distributed through individuals and organisations who lead football development programmes for Filipino youth. FFH was also the recipient of 2,020 durable balls from Expo 2020 Dubai which launched a campaign that includes a video starring Expo 2020 global ambassador Lionel Messi, arguably the best soccer player in the world today (disclosure: I am an eager fan of FC Barcelona). In his role as ambassador for Expo 2020 Dubai, Messi echoes part of the message of Pope Francis about the value of sport in human development: “A football team can only succeed by working together, and the same is true of humanity. When people from different nations, cultures and backgrounds come together, we can better address global challenges and create a brighter future for generations to come.”
FFH founder Chris Thomas is of one mind with both Expo 2020 Dubai and Pope Francis: “These are the very same values we promote in Football for Humanity, were our credo is ‘Bringing nations together.’ It is very inspiring and motivating to be part of a movement that cuts across countries, regardless of race or creed, to promote that dream of unity.”
Belle Tiongco, co-founder of FFH, expresses her gratitude to Expo 2020 Dubai: “Football for Humanity is very fortunate, and thankful to be able to be the channel which can bring the joy, and the power of football, to thousands of Filipino youth. These donations, these projects are a testament to the goodness of the human spirit. We are very proud to be associated with individuals and organisations, here and abroad, who build, who uplift, who reach out to inspire and motivate in the midst of difficulty and suffering. Football does bring hope.”
Football for Humanity is doing the country a favor by making it possible for a Filipino national football player, Shanden Vergara, to be exposed to the best players in the US For the coming Fall semester of 2019 in the US, Shanden will enroll in Snow College, Utah, after being sourced by Sports Recruiting SA (SRUSA), a partner of FFH. SRUSA’s founder, Chris Cousins, said that Shanden was selected “not only because of his obvious fantastic football abilities but also because of his desire to succeed.” Shanden is one of only 50 recruits from all over the world, a testament to the world class standard of his skills. When asked about what was required to develop into an international athlete, Cousins replied: “I am a firm believer that nothing magical happens in your comfort zone. So stepping out and opening new doors will only bring new things and opportunities in life.” Cousins is of the firm belief that there are other potentially talented Filipino athletes who can compete on a global level.