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Sunday, July 09, 2006

World Cup Fanatic

Ok, so I really only watched today's penalty kicking shoot out between Italy and France, but I did feel some of the excitement as Ghana got past the first round and other suprises like that. And looking forward to 2010 when South Africa hosts the World Cup, what a great privelege and honor for that country. Beyond "football" and headbutting people to the chest, some really neat things have come about b/c of the World Cup and soccer in general.

Here are a few good examples:

EU & FIFA sign deal

European Union Presdient Jose Barroso said: "The idea is to use the huge power of football for specific purposes such as fighting Aids, tuberculosis and malaria, helping in growth and development, fighting racism, xenophobia and all forms of discrimination and helping with post-conflict reconstruction and nation-building."

The EU and FIFA will spend almost US$32 billion on development programs in Africa, Caribeean, and Pacific Islands over the next 4 years.
Louis Michel, the EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid explains, "What we are doing is using the power of football to realise projects in the African, Caribbean and Pacific regions."

as reported by the BBC.

Mercy Corps has grasped this idea too:

"From Africa to Central Asia to the Balkans, Mercy Corps is harnessing the power of the world's most popular sport to bring people together, spark community reinvestment and teach young people about HIV/AIDS. The agency sponsors tournaments, provides seed money for sports clubs and, thanks to a strong partnership with Nike, outfits teams and equips schools and athletic leagues."

After the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo:

How do you start rebuilding when there's nothing left?

For hundreds of devastated villages including Grabovc, humanitarian organizations intent on restoring post-war Kosovo rushed in to fill the void. While these efforts admirably rebuilt houses, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure, they left one glaring need: the restoration of community spirit and cooperation.

"We decided on a soccer field because the local school didn't have one anymore, not since before the war," Mjeku explained. "We also thought that it could serve the other villages around here, not just Grabovc."

Indeed, since the soccer field was completed in August 2005, the village has held two sports tournaments for the area. The last event brought in 30 teams from surrounding villages, as well as throngs of spectators. It was one of the biggest gatherings of neighbors around here since the war ended.

With the success of these recent tournaments, Mjeku has an idea on how to continue much-needed village improvements: Grabovc will collect small entry fees from each team that participates in future tournaments. The community council plans to undertake more sweeping infrastructure projects, such as asphalting the road and installing a community-wide water system, with the new funds they'll receive.

Teaching about HIV/AIDS

Mercy Corps' "YES to Soccer" program is based on a curriculum designed by Grassroot Soccer that combines young people's passion for the sport with drills, role plays and discussions about HIV/AIDS. Currently, 3,000 Liberians between the ages of 16 and 30 participate in the program.

"The idea behind ‘YES to Soccer' is to use role models who young people trust - like soccer players and coaches - to confirm what they're hearing about AIDS and integrate it into their behavior," says Jessica Quarles, Mercy Corps HIV/AIDS program officer. "Grassroot Soccer has combined social theory, public-health methodologies, rigorous evaluation and a huge dose of passion. It knows that behavior change takes skills and practice, and its curriculum reflects this."

Grassroot Soccer
is an organization completely devoted to using soccer to teach lifeskills.

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