Football for life
An interview with Fundlife International Project Assistant Christine Paula Love Bernasor.
Christine, could you give us an overview of the initiative please?
I am project assistant for Fundlife International where we are currently implementing the ‘Football for Life’ (F4L) child empowerment project in Tacloban. Our work provides crucial psychosocial intervention for Haiyan-Survivor children. We use football to restore hope, identity, purpose and belonging to children deeply affected by Haiyan.
How is Football for Life different from other organizations who also have the same advocacy?
We don’t consider F4L to be a football project, which might sound strange. But that in itself is what makes F4L unique.
Our core advocacy is for children to believe in their dreams and have the confidence to fulfill their true potential. Often, in communities of low income and low opportunity, or in communities where natural calamities are regular, children are not thinking about the future, and living day to day, in survival mode.
Through football, we encourage them to commit themselves to improving. We show them if they practice football, their skills will improve and then we communicate that the same is true to anything in life.
In your opinion, what is the impact of the project?
It’s very difficult to quantify how much of an impact we make. We believe the first step of development should come with the child wanting to be developed. You cannot teach ambition or hard-work overnight.
Our job is to show and motivate children to invest in themselves – this is incredibly hard, if a child’s entire life has been one where the environment stifles and ambition and dreams.
So, we use football as a fun and engaging way to help them identify the talent within themselves. Impact will vary from child to child. For some football is just a fun game. For others, it will serve as a confidence boost to do better in school, in social situations and hopefully in getting a better life.
We firmly believe development is about tackling the root cause of poverty, which is never the external outcomes, but rather the cultural heritage of poverty. For us to have true impact, we need to make sure we work with partners who feel the same way.
How do you empower and support children development?
We encourage children to make their own decisions in life (just like they do in football).
By making them accountable for their choices, they become empowered to decide what kind of future they want to have. As children, of course, they rely on parents and adults to guide them through big decisions, but we try to demonstrate they still have the ability to positively affect their circumstances.
It’s a slow process, which can only happen with time, experiences and constant positive reinforcement. We believe dependency stifles ambition and empowerment, and in football you cannot be dependent on others.
We encourage children to adopt this approach in life: you need to be interdependent on your team-mates, but not dependent on anyone.
For regular updates on the Football for Life project, please check facebook.com/F4LCF