Monday 07 July 2014
With the 2014 FIFA World Cup heading towards the closing stages, the eyes of the footballing world have been focused on events in Brazil. But this has not been the only World Cup to have taken place in the country this summer, with the second Street Child World Cup being held in Rio de Janeiro earlier this year.
The Street Child World Cup brings together 230 street children from 19 countries for a football tournament which, together with a festival of arts and a participatory conference, aims to highlight and improve the situation of many children across the globe. This year’s tournament, held in association with Save the Children, had a big Premier League influence with the league and top-flight clubs playing an important role in providing the inspiration for, and helping prepare for, the competition.
As well as Arsenal helping to prepare the England girls team, thanks to the Premier League International Small Grants Fund, which awards £300,000 over three years to charities and non-profit organisations at home and abroad, the QPR in the Community Trust helped the project that provided the Tanzania boys’ team that won this year’s Street Child World Cup on their way.
"When the team arrived back in Tanzania, the reception we received was massive"
Last summer, QPR visited the Kuleana Street Children's Centre, an emergency drop-in centre in Tanzania’s second city Mwanza, which has about 2,000 children on the streets. They passed on their knowledge and expertise of the Premier League Kicks programme, a successful scheme run in conjunction with the police and Sport England that uses the hook of football to engage youngsters in some of the most disadvantaged areas of England in positive activities, which in turn reduces anti-social behaviour.
QPR in the Community Trust manager Martino Chevannes and social inclusion manager Gareth Dixon delivered workshops in Mwanza on and off the pitch in training 22 coaches, bringing together teachers, local street children and, notably, local police officers, and relaying how sport can be used as an instrument for social change.
As well as passing on their knowledge, QPR in the Community Trust provided funds for the centre to buy a motorbike to be used as part of a taxi service, which in turn raises money for the centre to buy more bikes and gives the young people the opportunity to become independent.
"When QPR came with the PL Kicks model we realised that we didn't have the football knowledge of how to work with children when they were on the streets," Team Tanzania founder Mutani Yangwe told premierleague.com. "In Tanzania, police and the children don't trust each other but with the PL Kicks model, we really had to break down the barrier and we brought the police into the training that QPR were delivering."
From that visit by QPR, the Street Skillz programme was born, a programme which gives young people the opportunity of playing football in a safe environment.
"The children wake up very early to go to a session and our coaches and social workers are there to attend with them. Some can't play football but it's a safe place to come and we get an opportunity to feed and support them and offer comfort.
"We integrate them with families and while they are living with them we offer them a chance to come to the programme again to give more advanced training."
"People are talking about how they made the country proud"
Players from the Kuleana Street Children’s Centre, together with young people from Dar es Salaam, went on to represent Tanzania at the Street Child World Cup in April. The team, organised by the Tanzania Street Children Sports Academy, an organisation that offers street children the opportunity to train and play football, had a tournament to remember as they claimed the boys’ title with a 3-1 win over Burundi in Fluminense.
Lifting the trophy was a major achievement for the Tanzania team, some of whom had lost in the final of the 2010 Street Child World Cup to India, and, as Yangwe explains, the triumph has had far-reaching implications for the young people.
"When the team arrived back in Tanzania, the reception we received was massive," he said. "The whole country went crazy when we won the final and the media was covering it for three weeks.
"The President issued a statement to congratulate the team, the Prime Minister and the Tanzania Football Federation hosted the team for dinner. This kind of thing has never happened to street children before; we have managed to change government mentality.
"The government are giving us a piece of land worth about £50,000 which we should have in September, while the Prime Minister awarded each child US$500 [£295] as a prize and he promised to visit our project and learn about what we are doing.
"We are now talking with the government about recommendations and changing the policies to do with children. That’s the long-term plan with the government to bring that onto their agenda. Before, the people were seeing the children as criminals but that has now changed and people are talking about how they made the country proud."
To find out the impact that the Tanzania trip had on Martino Chevannes, click here >>