Accent on youth for FIFA Foundation Community Talks

17 Feb 2021

The second episode of the interactive FIFA Foundation Community Talks series has taken place, with a focus on the important role of young people and football for positive initiatives to help transform communities.

Moderated by Candelaria Lucero Dente, the Director of Colombian NGO Fundación Tiempo de Juego, the second episode of the Community Talks series provided the platform for a wide-ranging debate featuring FIFA Foundation CEO Youri Djorkaeff, young footballing talent Deyna Castellanos, youth NGO leaders Gilson da Costa of the Delta Cultura organisation in Cape Verde, Amina Moustafa of Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI) and Senate Letsie of Kick4Life Lesotho. The panel discussed their experiences of working to better communities through football, and how being change makers in society led to positive changes in their own lives.

Youri Djorkaeff drew on his own experiences as a member of the French football team that won the 1998 FIFA World Cup, to illustrate the role that young people and football played in creating a better sense of community throughout France following the win.

“In 1998, my teammates and I won the FIFA World Cup… through football…through our victory at the FIFA World Cup, our team of young players helped to transform the perception of community in France. When we won, people of every colour, religion and background took to the streets of France to celebrate as a community – something that hadn’t been seen since the end of the Second World War,” he said.

1998 World Cup Final, St Denis, Paris, France, 12th July, 1998, France 3 v Brazil 0, France's Youri Djorkaeff lifts the World Cup trophy as team-mates (L-R); Candela, Leboeuf and Diomede look on  (Photo by Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Echoing this sentiment, youth footballer Deyna Castellanos spoke about her own experiences as a young woman playing professional football, and how she believed in the power of the game to change lives and communities, especially on important issues like gender equality.

The NGO panellists shared their experiences with the audience and unanimously agreed that young people stepping up to take action can create meaningful change for not just their communities but themselves also.

Illustrating this point in action, they spoke about how their work with NGOs had paved the way for their journey to develop their own potential, with all three now attending university and more passionate than ever about inspiring other young people to take up leadership roles in society.

Deyna Castellanos of Venezuela celebrates with fans after winning the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Quarter Final match between Mexico and Venezuela at Amman International Stadium on October 12, 2016 in Amman, Jordan. (Photo by Boris Streubel - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Speaking about her own experience, Senate Letsie said: “I learned a lot from Kick4Life on gender equality and driving change in my country and equality for men and women. I’m an example of what Kick4Life can do, I got a scholarship in the USA through it and others are now following me. It opened a massive door for young girls who want to achieve in life.”

The young speakers also discussed the importance of providing opportunities to become young leaders, emphasising that youths help to make programmes and initiatives more dynamic and successful and highlighting that age does not mean that young people don’t know how to lead.

In closing the second episode of the FIFA Foundation Community Talks, Youri Djorkaeff underlined his commitment to providing a safe space for young people to reach their full potential through the FIFA Foundation, as well as its ongoing work to help NGO’s and young people worldwide.

“The FIFA Foundation is a great platform to give you the confidence to communicate with your teammates and lead on the field. Humility is so important for us at the Foundation and we are here to support and help you, from the smallest NGO to the UN,” he concluded.