The European Commission and FIFA created a partnership in 2006, addressing development issues through football and its positive impact on developing countries. They hope to progress towards the Millennium Development Goals through this effort and educate the youth on development issues.
Fambul Tok - "Family Talk" in Krio - uses football as an attraction in its program to help pacify relations between communities affected by the civil war in Sierra Leone.
Kanouté Foundation in Mali, founded by Beijing Guoan forward and former player for the Mali international team Freddie Kanouté, who initiated the project to help orphaned and vulnerable children improve their welfare and education. In his efforts to improve lives and reduce poverty, Kanouté's foundation has founded Sakina Children's Village, a programme which shelters children by providing housing complexes, a health centre and a school. In the middle of the children's village, of course, sits a football field, which apart from being used for football, is also used as operating grounds for volunteer programs, foreign medics, teachers and psychologists to help and educate residents of Sakina and surrounding villages.
The Street Child World Cup campaign is a testament to why the sport is just more than a game. As the only street child organization in the world, the campaign connects NGO's from around the world to raise awareness about the issues that Street Children face, help these children get a voice and push for growth and development opportunities for the children as they are generally denied privileges that every kid should be entitled to. In 2010, the campaign was able to hold its first Street Child World Cup in South Africa, where the FIFA world cup was taking place. India came out on top after beating Tanzania in the final!
The examples mentioned above, are some of many opportunities that organizations have capitalized on to help bring communities together and empower them. With 100 million children living and working in the streets, football has emerged as an effective way to help this demographic. In other scenarios, the power of competition has helped change perceptions and bring together communities that once were at war amongst one another.
The world of football itself is combating racism as we speak. When thousands flock to see world famous players play on the same ground, amidst the battle on the field, there is a battle amongst races on the bleachers. On many occasions, disrespectful slandering has reached points of forcing players to stop playing football matches and engage in shouting matches against crowds of people. This should not be taken as a discouraging series of events because based on other successful ventures, this provides opportunity for football to tackle another issue that has plagued the world for thousands of years. With initiatives such as Kick it Out and Football Against Racism in Europe the sky is the limit with what football can achieve while tackling racism. If its anything that can help cure us of this disease, its football. With a following of over a billion people, I hope the most beautiful sport in the world becomes a means to an end for a world that is much need of unity and solidarity.