By Oeds-Willem Miedema from The Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB)
Football is mostly about training and playing matches. Just fiddling with the ball. But thanks to the ball there is a lot more to achieve outside the pitch as well.
The Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) is committed to participate in several social projects around the world. One of those projects is Football For Water, that is being implemented in Kenya, Ghana and Mozambique. As part of this program, the KNVB and Aqua for All (project partner), visited Ghana in the beginning of February.
Football For Water
In the Football For Water program, the KNVB collaborates amongst others with UNICEF, to realise clean drinking water, toilets and proper hygiene at schools in Kenya, Ghana and Mozambique. The KNVB trains teachers on these schools to become “World Coaches”: these WorldCoaches will educate children through football training about things in daily life – for example about the importance of proper hygiene behavior.
For instance, children are being taught to wash their hands after a training and before they eat. Another example is that the children work together with their teacher to set up a schedule for cleaning the toilets. And the female coaches teach the girls about the importance of menstrual hygiene.
What is happening in all these countries?
Depending on the size of the school, the KNVB trains 103 World Coaches per school. In total the program runs at 190 schools in Ghana, in and close to the Capital Accra and in the northern rural area near Tamale. Approximately 400 schools in total are involved in the overall program, including the schools in Kenya and Mozambique. At every school improvements can be seen.. Whether it’s newly built toilets or the availability of clean drinking water, it all has a positive impact on the living conditions on these schools.
That’s where Football For Water is aiming for. To improve these living conditions on the schools for the school children. In a lot of cases the schools in for example Ghana don’t receive sufficient support from the government, resources are scarce and the number of children per class is high. As a result, it is no surprise that the participating schools are very committed and positive about, the program. This is crucial for the success of the program, because the people at the schools will be the ones responsible for the future of the school and for the future of the school chilldren; in the long run the school has to be able to stand on their own two feet.
The program demonstrates that football can serve a bigger purpose. WorldCoaches on these schools are not only teaching the children to enjoy the game and football training, but they are also giving them insights in how appropriate hygiene behavior is necessary in order to be healthy!