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Colombia’s Tiempo de Juego earns FIFA Fan Movement admiration

  • Members of the FIFA Fan Movement visited the Fundacion Tiempo de Juego in Bogota
  • They spent a day with the foundation’s children and the youngsters who supervise them
  • Visitors give their views on the work carried out by the Colombian organisation

It all started with a football in a deprived area in the outskirts of Bogota back in 2006. Ever since then, the not-for-profit organisation Fundacion Tiempo de Juego has been using football as a tool to transform communities.

Its founder, Andres Wiesner, saw the potential of football to nurture the skills of young boys and girls and inspire them to become agents of change in their own communities.

His organisation started out as a football academy incorporating two key elements: the methodology of “football for peace” or “a game of three halves”, as a tool for promoting social cohesion, gender equality and life skills; and the “supervisors” model, which nurtures the leadership skills of youngsters so that, in time, they can run and coordinate activities themselves.

More than meets the eye

Tiempo de Juego, which means “game time” in Spanish, came into being in the disadvantaged district of Cazuca, Bogota, where it has its head office. And it was there that a group from the Colombia FIFA Fan Movement headed on Saturday 17 March to pay the foundation a visit.

Among them was Jennifer Paredy, a 33-year-old business manager from Barranquilla. “I used to think it was just a football academy where poor children from the neighbourhoods where the foundation operates enrolled to get away from violence and other problems,” she told FIFA.com. “But I’ve seen for myself that it’s much more than that.”

She added: “Andres Wiesner was there to welcome us in person and he told us that though it all started with a ball, it has grown and evolved since then. Today, the foundation’s programmes extend to other sports, and to artistic activities and audiovisual media. And it doesn’t just get the children in each community involved, but parents and grandparents too.”

Jennifer, who formed part of a focus group invited by FIFA to Zurich in 2016 and joined the Fan Movement on its creation last year, said she was impressed by the foundation’s ability to become self-sustainable despite a lack of basic resources.

“They gave us a snack in a bakery called La Jugada, which opened in response to the need to provide boys and girls playing football with snacks," she said. "It now employs people from the neighbourhood and sells its products elsewhere. The same thing happened with the kits. They didn’t have any and it was the mothers and grandmothers who got sewing. Now they sell them to other organisations.”

Spreading the message

John Ossa is a 26-year-old radio and TV voiceover artist. He joined the FIFA Fan Movement thanks to Juliana Jaramillo, a freestyler who showed her skills off to the foundation’s youngsters during the course of the visit.

Based in Medellin, the two run a YouTube channel called “Dos Pelotas, Multipasión Futbolera”, through which they aim to show that there is a lot more to football than just 90 minutes.

“I have to say, I’d never heard of Tiempo de Juego but I’m impressed at how a movement that grew out of football has transcended it to move into other areas,” John told FIFA.com. “I hope to help them get their message out there.”

“I’m amazed by the fact that most of the leaders are poor kids who were just eight, nine or ten when they came to the foundation,” he continued. “Now, ten years on, it’s they who are running things. That creates a sense of belonging, which is key to achieving objectives. What’s more, the eight- and ten-year-olds of today will want to be supervisors in the future because they have role models to look up to.”

A very special revolution

As well as providing an opportunity for the foundation’s youngsters to enjoy themselves, Wiesner put the Fan Movement’s visit into context: “It’s part of what we call ‘The revolution of small things’, the things that people can do no matter where they are to help a community in need to grow and develop.”

“Tiempo de Juego was built on the interest of a group of people who one day wanted to come and get to know us, and that’s exactly what’s happened with the visit by the kids from the Fan Movement; they’ve dropped by, shared their knowledge with us, and have understood what it’s all about. We can each of us build on that by helping to make sure that the project keeps on getting stronger.”

Communities where Tiempo de Juego operates

  • Cazuca (Cundinamarca)
  • Santa Marta (Magdalena)
  • Timbiqui (Cauca)
  • Quinto (Choco)

Did you know?

  • Among Tiempo de Juego’s many ventures is a hotel school in San Marta called El Habitante, which, among other things, promotes responsible tourism.
  • Published in Cazuca, El Observador is a newspaper written by youngsters from the local community, who are striving to change its image as a dangerous place to live and promote positive news.

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