- FUDELA is finding innovative ways to work around Covid-19
- The foundation has helped more than 15,000 people since 2005
- Legendary Ecuadorian names joined the cause to help disadvantaged
Night falls at Ecuador’s National Football Centre, in the north east of the country’s capital, Quito. It is a place where the hopes of 17 million Ecuadorians are invested in the future of their beloved Tricolor, though the players who are here tonight do not hail from the world’s top leagues.
They come instead from far-flung corners of the country, such as Chical, on the border with Colombia; San Lorenzo in the province of Esmeraldas; and Santa Rosa in the Amazon region, communities where the everyday opponents these players face are a lack of opportunities, drugs, discrimination and violence.
FUDELA has helped more than 15,000 people since its creation in 2005, using football as one its main vehicles for change. In the foundation’s eyes, the pitch has a very special meaning. It is a place where life lessons are taught, where values are promoted and where no one is left behind.
The lowdown on Fudela
- FUDELA stands for Fundación de las Américas.
- It has the support of the FIFA Foundation and the Ecuadorian Football Association.
- It is also backed by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the streetfootballworld network, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and reigning Copa Sudamericana champions Independiente del Valle.
- It devotes its energies to 100 football coaches to impact on the lives of 2,000 young people from nine provinces in Ecuador and on displaced people (refugees and migrants).
Taking on Covid-19
At the start of the year no one could have predicted the changes that the Covid-19 pandemic would impose right around the world. All of a sudden, the pitches feel silent, the goals stopped going in and the dreams of so many children were put on hold.
Yet despite the health crisis, FUDELA has rolled out its latest project, which involves applying German training methods with social distancing, in strict compliance with biosafety measures.
Thanks to the project, FUDELA has helped to positively integrate more than 800 young boys and girls, who need more help than ever to feel safe and secure and supported on a psychological and emotional level.
Making use of technology and drawing on the commitment of its team, FUDELA has been building new pitches from home. Carlos Espinoza, a Quito-based developer, is a member of the team and has spent several years teaching on the Campeones Comunitarios ('Community Champions') programme, which teaches youngsters how to make good use of their free time and which has had the support of the FIFA Foundation since 2017:
“What with the pandemic I didn’t think we were going to get a great response because not everyone has a mobile, tablet or computer. The results have been promising though.”
Carlos and his fellow coaches have had to adapt their teaching methodology and improve it. He is currently working with more than 200 children and teenagers, many of them refugees and asylum seekers from Venezuela and Colombia, who have been receiving support on integrating in society and learning important values for life through virtual workshops.
Another virtual tool developed by the foundation is FUDELA Play, an innovative platform that creates and shares education content through WhatsApp and social media.
Jose Salcedo, another of the participants, explain what it is all about: “Now I can keep myself busy at home. Thanks to FUDELA’s videos I can work out and play with the things I’ve got to hand. I feel closer to my family despite the situation we’re going through.”
Help on and off the pitch
The transformational power of football is also being experienced off the pitch. Over the last few month FUDELA has been promoting the campaign Nos Jugamos el Futuro ('We’re Playing for the Future') to raise money for food, cleaning products and educational material for more than 1,000 families in nine provinces across Ecuador.
The Covid-19 crisis has also widened the gap in terms of educational, employment and social inclusion, directly affecting the futures of the most vulnerable people.
The universal language of football has inspired a number of professional players and clubs, however, who have signed up for an innovative football and sporting memorabilia auction. More than 50 items have been donated and sold to date, with the proceeds being used to buy tablets and educational tools and to provide internet connections.
FUDELA has joined forces for the auction with several organisations and attracted the support of some legendary names who played for Ecuador at the FIFA World Cup™ competitions in 2002, 2006 and 2014, among them Carlos Tenorio, Luis Fernando Saritama, Juan Carlos Burbano and Walter Ayovi, and the Ecuadorian clubs Independiente del Valle and Liga Deportiva Universitaria.
Partnerships such as these are helping to overcome adversity and generate a positive impact in the lives of thousands of people. The support of the FIFA Foundation and organisations such as FUDELA, who see football as a tool for change, are essential to overcoming obstacles and making a brighter future.