Inaugural FIFA Employee Volunteer Programme creates unique memories

29 Nov 2019
  • First edition of the FIFA Employee Volunteer Programme concludes in Lesotho

  • In collaboration with the FIFA Foundation, five FIFA staff worked with NGO Kick4Life for eight days

  • Focus on professional, social and personal exchange

Listening to the stories of the children who find refuge from everyday life at Kick4Life in Lesotho, Senior Legal Office Manager Anita could see the significance of the NGO’s work. “It’s much more than football, it’s their family.”

As part of the inaugural FIFA Employee Volunteer Programme, Anita is one of five FIFA staff members who decided to use some of their annual leave to support the charity organisation in its mission to change the lives and long-term prospects of vulnerable young people through a wide range of social development activities focused on health and education.

More than a football club, Kick4Life is a self-financing model, running a small hotel, restaurant and conference rooms that cover the costs of the academy. Football is at the heart of the organisation and never ceases to impress with its ability to make a difference and foster change.

“They help the children to grow. I came here open-minded and I have been taught so much,” said Yeşim, an Office Manager in the Legal Division. Spanish Translator Irene added: “Working at a desk in Zurich, I hardly ever get to see what’s done in the field so this experience is so rewarding.”

Over the past eight days, the FIFA volunteers have participated in practical and strategic exercises from planting herbs, trees and spinach to a development workshop in order to support several ongoing Kick4Life projects. The activities included talks about social media presence, digitalisation, innovation and a fundraising project that will help to transform bobbly turf to a full-sized artificial turf pitch within a 2,000-seater stadium structure where the weekly Premier League matches can be played.

They also learned about the history of Lesotho during their hike to Thaba Bosiu mountain and immersed themselves in the local culture by strolling through the stalls selling all kinds of brightly coloured fruits, clothes and handicraft items at Maseru market.

“This has been an amazing visit to Lesotho, made even more memorable by the FIFA volunteers, who quickly made me one of the team,” said Nick Ward, a UK-based Kick4Life trustee.

“It’s been enormously rewarding to see how they have all been moved by this incredible country, the invaluable work of Kick4Life and the amazing people they have met along the way. I feel confident they now share my passion for this place and our work, which I hope we can share with more volunteers in the future.”

The five volunteers will now return home with a wealth of new understanding thanks to this unique experience. "We got to know the country, its culture, the work of Kick4Life and what a difference football can make," said Senior Event Controller Ersan. Maps and Plans Manager Mike added: “I felt quite emotional during this stay. It was an inspiration and I can’t wait to take everything we’ve experienced back to FIFA.”