Empowering communities: FCC's impactful sport for development approach
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This piece explores the experiences and insights of FCC, focusing on their interventions in Colombia, Panama, and the United States. The goal is to understand the participatory methods employed and the impact they've had on addressing social issues and promoting well-being.
This article was submitted as part of our call for articles on participatory approaches in sport for development. For more information and to find out how to submit, read the call for articles.

Sport for Development (SfD) has emerged as a potent force for positive change on a global scale. Leveraging the universal passion for Sport, particularly soccer, SfD has become a transformative tool, fostering systemic changes aimed at individual progression and social cohesion.

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In Colombia, marked by a history of violence due to armed conflict and drug trafficking, soccer stands as a symbol of unity. In 1996, the "Soccer for Peace" methodology born out of a university thesis in Medellín, introduced new guidelines to use soccer to unite people and promote peace focusing on aspects beyond goals, such as fair play, conflict resolution, and gender parity.

Inspired by “Soccer for Peace" methodology, Fútbol con Corazón (FCC) initiated its activities in Barranquilla in 2007, envisioning a future where every child, regardless of their environment, makes positive life choices. 

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FCC's pedagogical model aims to enhance socioemotional and cognitive abilities through a social-constructivist framework. Learning is built through shared experiences, inquiry, and self-questioning, empowering children to apply their learning both on and off the field. The methodology extends to parents, caregivers, and community agents, fostering awareness on topics such as self-awareness, decision-taking, gender equity, and environmental consciousness. 

FCC's projects additionally involve collaboration with various stakeholders, including the private sector, government, and other organizations. Shared efforts among stakeholders not only improve program conditions but also guarantee the sustainability of initiatives. As FCC celebrates its 16th year, the organization continues to refine its participatory approach, emphasizing intentional planning and implementation.

Despite the perception that FCC primarily focuses only on children and youth, family and community participation enrich the process. This year, FCC introduced a Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) Plan with a Collaboration, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) section, emphasizing intentional participatory processes. The 1st International Coaches Summit showcased the success of participatory approaches, providing a platform for coaches to learn from each other's best practices, share concerns about their daily responsibilities, and rewardingly discuss specific situations where they felt they were making an impact on children and youth. These situations allowed them to identify their capacities, elevate their self-esteem, and inspire others.

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In the realm of participatory processes, when it comes to getting people involved, trust and communication become major challenges in development efforts. Building trust among peers and stakeholders and making sure communication is clear and effective are crucial for making these initiatives successful.

For FCC, the relevance of participatory approaches lies in their ability to make decision-making processes efficient and valid, prioritize community involvement for enhanced social change and sustainability, and facilitate shared knowledge and capacity development.

As FCC navigates the challenges and successes of participatory approaches in Sport for development, the organization serves as a beacon for the transformative power of soccer. The lessons learned from their experiences contribute valuable insights to the broader discourse on participatory methods in the SfD sector, paving the way for more intentional and impactful interventions.


FCC Documents: Retrieved from FCC

About the author

Andrea Chaustre Cañón is a passionate social impact leader with extensive experience in social and human welfare. She is currently the Director of Impact and Pedagogy at FCC International, a social enterprise focused on socio-emotional and cognitive education for children, youth, and their families, using soccer as a pedagogical tool. Andrea is a psychologist from the Universidad de los Andes and holds a Master's degree in Public Affairs from the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris. She has extensive experience in community development, project management and program sustainability. Having worked with international cooperation agencies and local governments in projects funded by USAID and other donors, Andrea has participated in initiatives related to peace building, institutional strengthening, support to victims of violence and ethnic communities.



Impact & Pedagogy Director
FCC International


Latin America and the Caribbean
All sports
Sustainable Development Goals
11 - Sustainable cities and communities
Target Group

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