You might think that the Football For Hope Festival would focus its attention on organisations from countries that feature low on the Human Development Index (HDI), whose social problems tend to be more serious than those of other nations and where football has more room in which to make an impact.
Yet the fact is that there are social issues to address in every part of the world, and such is the reach of football that it can act as a valuable force for change even in highly developed countries.
Take Germany, for example, which is the fifth-highest ranked country in terms of gender equality according to the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Gender Inequality Index (GII) for 2013.
Even there the sport of football is able to bring about improvements in areas such as the social integration of the native-born members of the nation’s large immigrant communities. Making that point to FIFA.com at the 2014 Football For Hope Festival, which is being held in the district of Caju, Rio de Janeiro, was David Breimer, the head of the German delegation at the event and representing KICKFAIR.
“We meet every week to talk about the methodology of football,” he said. “We work in schools and community centres, where we teach children and then give them challenges in which they have the chance to develop.
“An example of this are the football tournaments we organise for the newest children. We show youngsters aged 15 and 16 how to go about organising competitions for new arrivals, which gives them responsibilities and the chance to learn how to run things. In doing so, we make them take responsibility for these youngsters, and as a result for their families, their schoolwork and their friends.”
While Germany is focusing its efforts on the integration of all levels of society, France is paying particular attention to social integration in its cities and to the poverty afflicting part of its population. Representing Sports dans la Ville (SDLV), Delphine Teillard explained how football is helping inculcate educational and social values in the near 3,400 people taking part in the activities of its groups.
“Football is a team game in which there are rules that you have to observe, just as in our everyday lives, society around us and in our jobs,” explained Delphine. “We focus on the values of fair play, punctuality, humility, respect, team spirit and excelling oneself. We’re able to teach a lot of things through football, and that’s reflected in the lives of the people who take part in the project.”
Some 32 delegations from 27 countries around the world have come to Rio to share their experiences at the Football for Hope Festival. Together they represent as many diverse cultures as the problems they seek to address, and in doing so they all draw on the power of football in their efforts to make development a reality.