“Spirit of Soccer” Iraq

The main aim of the project is to educate children of the dangers of land mines and other explosive elements of war through the power of football and sporting education.The spirit of Soccer project has a powerful and important itinerary to spread throughout the youth of Iraq including Mine Risk education,activities that get across the important message in a fun way and to raise the awareness by changing the behavior of children towards explosive objects whether they be mines or bombs.

“There aren’t many chances to play sport for women in Iraq” says Serab. “Spirit of Soccer gave me the opportunity to return to the sport I love at the same time as performing a humanitarian role, helping to protect children against mines and other weapons by educating them”. (Serab -football coach for spirit of soccer)

The violence in both Syria and Iraq have had catastrophic consequences for humanitarian reasons in the region.There has been a huge amount of displacement for people in the region leaving some 5.2 million people in urgent need of assistance in Iraq. Since
December 2014 more than 2.2 million Iraqis have been internally SOS-Logo-1displaced, and half of them are children under the age of 18, forced to live in camps without any formal education or social structures.

There are many aims and objectives of the project which can be a complex process due to the war torn nature of the regions so to reach those objectives given the dangers that the coaches are working in and the environment.There are core objectives which are :-

  • Teach 150 Iraqi and Syrian football coaches (30% women) the fundamentals of trauma and mine safety:a. KEEP AWAY from dangerous areas
    b. DON’T TOUCH mines or explosive remnants of war
    c. REPORT mines or explosive remnants of war to someone in authority
    d. COMMUNICATE the above to friends and family
  • Deliver mine risk education through football to 25,000 Iraqi and Syrian children
  • Recruit 5,000 high-risk, fighting age men into a ‘anti-extremism football league’
  • Deliver mine risk education messages indirectly to 75,000 Iraqi and Syrian refugees and internally displaced people
  • Increase access to football in under-served communities

(objectives taken from http://uefafoundation.org/action/spirit-of-soccer-2/ )

These crucial elements and objectives are done through football activity and participation.Sport is a special vehicle and a very clever way to spread a message to as many children in the fastest possible time as this links with the Brain training theory that activities should be put across in the manner of the child’s capabilities to take in that information so through fun physical activities they are more likely to get a higher participation equaling a larger target base.

This fantastic project of “Spirit of Soccer” works all over the world and are always looking to expand to reach more war torn areas as the work will never be over. So far there are 110,000,000 mines in the world and it has been predicted that it would take 1000 years to clear them at a cost of $30 billion and in which 50% of the total victims of mines die within the first hours without being able to get medical help.

Since 2009 we have delivered programs in Baghdad, Basra and Kirkuk to over 80,000 children, often under heavy shelling. In keeping with our philosophy of local ownership we have trained 18 local Iraqi coaches as MRE instructors, including three women, from across the Arab, Sunni, Shia, Kurdish and Christian communities.

(Spirit of Soccer statment – http://spiritofsoccer.org/our-impact/)

If you would like to donate or see more information on this fantastic project then please follow the link below.




“Spirit of Soccer” Cambodia Project

The Spirit of Soccer project was founded in 1996 and is still going strong to this day.The organisation has had immense success for 2 decades in which they have touched the hearts of tens of thousands of children and families in Cambodia.


Landmine Clearance

The Civil war in Cambodia lasted nearly three decades where Landmines were placed in populated areas which posed a huge risk to the local populace to maximize human damage.Over 40,000 Cambodians are missing a body part in which 40% are young victims.It remains one of the worlds most heavily mined areas.The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) have stated that it would take 100 years to clear the region.

There may be as many as four-to-six million mines and unexploded ordinances in Cambodia and, according to estimates, at the present rate it would take 100 years to clear them all.

yd3l_ayzThe Philosophy of the project is to educate children about the dangers of land mines and to raise the awareness of the dangerous consequences of war especially surrounding the ERW (Explosive Remnants of War) in post conflict regions. The program expanded to Cambodia after successful projects in Bosnia & Herzegovina where for ten years they worked to reach the same goals.

The success is easy to quantify in the amount of participants and children they have reached as in 2006 alone they reached 22,000 children and over 80,000 altogether which educated them on the risks and prevention methods of Land Mines which is a huge number to reach for a project of this type.One of the many impressive elements to this story is that they use football education to spread the message which allows for other benefits such as keeping the children off the streets, reducing crime and enhancing the prevention of drug abuse.

The group has also impacted strongly in funding in the region having donated thousands of footballs and equipment whilst also delivering thousands of sessions ,advice and coaching methodology per year to the youth of Cambodia.


Dream Big …. Football Changing Lives for Hope

Through Football for Hope’s support, Spirit of Soccer has been able to expand its activities in Cambodia to other affected regions of the country and to reach over 20.000 children per year on the dangers posed by land mines – FIFA


Map showing ERW contamination in Cambodia

Touching Story- A Teenage Goalkeeper Rising Above Bullies

Goalkeeper Dan Cui has a story that rises above bullies.A Goalkeeper playing above his age group was made a scapegoat for a schools horrendous form and what happened next with a little help from his friends and Facebook he got his confidence back and became a star and had his moment of glory by helping the school finally secure victory with a sensational last minute save.

Cui, in actuality, isn’t a bad goalie, but he was playing above his age and his confidence had taken a bit of a beating from class mates calling him names such as the “Worst Goalie Ever.” Some of Cui’s teammates, however, came to his defence, using Facebook to fight the cyberbullying. They found a good picture of Cui making a save and posted it as their Facebook profile picture. More and more people from Cui’s school joined in and soon more than 100 students had liked, commented, or changed their pics to Cui’s save.

John Oliver On FIFA ! Hilarious !

Amazing and truthful realization about corrupt FIFA.John Oliver is known for his hilarious and common sense outbursts but this one about FIFA will certainly go viral around the globe ! a must watch ! (HILARIOUS AND TRUE !)… loved the Sepp Blatter comments !

Ill just leave this ending statement … over 4000 people will die in Qatar before a ball is kicked in constructing the stadiums and infrastructure





This is a truly inspiring story from one of the poorest provinces in India .The province of Jharkhand only gained statehood in the year 2000.The province has some of the worst statistics in the country in regards to important demographic and social inclusion aspects for example only 40% have some form of electricity and literacy is below 40 percent for the region.These two elements have allowed the region to fall victim to many atrocities in which poverty is the main catalyst. Child abduction and Bus Bombings are rife in the area from  Maoist revolutionaries and running battles with authorities are a regular occurrence. The main victims in all of this strife are the local youth and especially young girls who are forced to marry young and have their young lives taken away from them as well as their innocence.

imagesThere is a very traditional and old cultural view in Jharkhand when it comes to the roles of young women and children in the region. It is believed that women should work for the family and only be involved in aspects of life that benefit the family and dote upon their husbands.The girls are so isolated that they can spend years living next to another young girl but never meet her.The horrendous social and economic frailties have displaced hundreds of young girls and forced them into lives of family devotion without having any time to simply just be a child without the worry of abuse and enslavement.


Most girls here are shockingly isolated,” Gastler says. “Some of them lived right next door to each other but had never met before they became teammates. Their families control their lives, their destinies. A lot of these girls are little more than indentured servants.   (Franz Gastler – Partner of YUWA)


projects_yuwa_03Frank Gastler is an Alumni of Edina Grad School and he is a man who has made incredible strides to prevent this from happening and liberate hundreds of young girls lives by using Football as a vessel and tool to change the path of negative atrocities and help bring the children into a safe and promising and character building environment which can benefit the community and change the culture of abuse.Gastler and two associates started YUWA in 2008 which began as a scholarship program and has now evolved into a mega vehicle against gender inequality.

Soccer bridges the gap,” says Deming, 29, Yuwa’s director of operations and fundraising. “The girls here are cut off from everything; they don’t have any opportunities. They’re slaves to their parents and then they’re slaves to their husbands, and they never have a chance to connect to the world at large. Soccer draws them out of their households and brings them into a positive environment.” Suddenly, the girls have friends, allies and a network of support. School attendance jumps dramatically. Even the other villagers begin to see the girls as people, rather than creatures of burden – (Greg Deming/Partner of YUWA)

YUWA provide a football programme on a huge scale and offer opportunities to play in teams and take part in trainings bringing girls from all over the province together to meet and socialize which begins to offer a unique route away from the lives they have with families.The program does not believe in past charitable theories where money is thrown at the problem without having a 100% active program on the field and on many occasions when money is thrown at the social and democratic issue the group find that the money is then stolen or the equipment and apparatus bought are then taken from the targeted charity therefore wasting the help which was given.


The YUWA group have looked to change this by only offering a two third discount on equipment meaning that the girls have to save a little amount in order to receive them which mentally gives them a positive outlook on what the group is trying to achieve whereas before equipment would be taken now there is a sense of ownership for the girls with the equipment and gives them a sense of self-pride which makes it much harder to be taken away as a sense of ownership and pride is a powerful weapon to have.


At first we tried just buying equipment for the girls, but then we’d see a father wearing his girl’s jersey or his girl’s shoes. If they’ve worked for it, saved for it, fought for it, it makes it so much harder for people to take it away.- ( Stephen Peterson/ Partner at YUWA)


imagesSince the program started the province have jumped from 20th to 4th in the state rankings which has been a massive achievement and is evidence that the great work put in by the YUWA group is paying off which is especially evident in the villages and culture of the province as a change of behaviour towards young girls and their roles in the community.The  huge rise in school attendance in the region is a very promising sign that maybe the literacy percentage in the near future is going to see a sharp rise and  shows that with the right type of charity in the right model can change the course of negativity and can make life better for so many young children in India.

YUWA won the Nike game changers award which awarded them with $25,000 which is being used to put in place full-scale tournament pitches !




Felipe Melo Pulls Off Great Save To Be A Hero

Felipe Melo was the unlikely hero for Galatasaray as he took over in-goal for Fernando Muslera , who was sent off in the 89th minute. Melo then miraculously pulled off a fantastic save even if he was way off his line at the time (what ever happened to that rule?) but anyway a fantastic effort for a midfielder.



CNN Hero And Football Changing Lives in Haiti

This is a story of a Hero and one of life’s true ambassadors for goodness and generosity. The story starts in 2006 when Patrice Millet was diagnosed with a rare bone Cancer in which his only option was a stem cell transplant or face death. Patrice Millet opted for treatment in the USA and after a 9 month fight for life he was finally in remission and was able to return to Haiti in 2007.

Millet decided that he was going to do everything and anything he could to help the children of Haiti after a devastating time in the country’s history and finally lead the life that he wanted instead of the one he felt he had to lead by giving Haiti’s youth a chance of a prosperous future.

“Every day you see so many kids in need, so many bad stories, tragic stories,” All my life, I wanted to do something good for my country, for the kids. I said, ‘This is the time. I have nothing to lose.’ “

Millet had a vision, a vision in the form of an organisation that would help people to improve themselves through soccer and not just as a player but more importantly as a human being and life skills to become successful, moral and upstanding members of the community. It is an Education by Sport but to get the education he had to find the funds to start his revolution and he did that by selling his construction company giving him the finance to start the FONDAPS Program or   Foundation Notre-Dame du Perpétuel Secours which means Foundation of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

“I want the kids to be very good citizens,” he said. “In soccer … you need to give, you need to receive, you need team spirit, discipline, sportsmanship. … It’s not all about soccer, it’s about life.”

One major obstacle he had to overcome was the fact that to achieve the goals he set out to achieve he had to go into the most dangerous slums in Haiti and promote his cause risking his life to make a difference as Haiti has a huge problem with gangs and gang related crime and murders. Over time Millet gained respect and trust from the slum communities giving him more access to make the changes and promotions he needed to sign children up to his programs.

FONDAPS have already proven to be survivors as they persevered through the Earthquake of 2010 which decimated the country and slowed down the operations of the organisation but didn’t stop Millet and his work as it has just drives him on further to help rebuild and make the FONDAP Program even bigger and to help more and more people in the region.

“When you live in the ghetto, you don’t see the world outside,” he said. “I try to bring hope for them, … to show them that (their) life is not only the reality.”

Soccer programs in Haiti were non existent before Millets program , and the only ones available were those kids had to pay for to register and to buy kits etc. , but with Millets FONDAP it gave every child an opportunity to participate without the pressure of finding financial help to do so as it is for free ,the kits,the tournaments and even the transport is paid for by Millet which allows all to have a chance of prosperity and to grow as human beings

“When they win, they are happy and they know that it’s because they worked hard for it. … That is the message I want to tell them,” said Millet. “Sometimes you win, sometime you lose. … But this is the way you win in life.”


Tent City

So far Millet has stopped hundreds of children from turning to a life of crime and from joining gangs by giving them an outlet to put their attention on instead of being seduced by criminals. When the earthquake hit, two of the three fields they used became tent Cities reducing the amount of space he had to provide the help which was needed but that hasn’t stopped his determination as he constantly helps with the children’s education by paying for it himself and offering hope to thousands.Some families have 10 family members living in small tents and without FUNDAP funding and food parcels they and many other families just would not survive.

“To see the joy in the face of a kid … and you know what he’s living (through) … that makes me happy,” he said. “It’s so wonderful to see the progress they make in soccer, in their own life, in everything.”

In 2009 Millets Cancer made a return which meant a return to the USA for a short time to get treatment but fortunately he made it and has plenty of big plans for the future.Millet plans and hopes to be able to create an athletic Leisure complex to secure a future for the Organisation and to continue to help the people of Haiti.