Posts Tagged ‘World Cup’

Soccer, Futbol by Any Other Name Still Helps

Darfur United team. Photo: darfurunited.com

Darfur United team. Photo: darfurunited.com

The world is super energized by the FIFA World Cup these days, with the most popular sport inspiring fans around the globe.

Just like rejecting the metric system, here in the US we reject the sport’s name as well, and insist on calling it soccer–to, you know, add confusion–but no matter the vocabulary, it is a nearly universal language of sport, and also a great avenue through which we can directly help communities in need.

There is no shortage of controversy about the host nation for the World Cup glossing over extreme cultural problems, hunger, homelessness, and unrest…and we know that happens in most countries when the international spotlight is shone upon them (us as well–ask homeless cause workers what happened when Los Angeles hosted the Olympic Games).

It can also be a time to shine that great spotlight on some issues we can act upon, bringing attention and advocacy to address some, at least partially solvable, ills.

i-ACT is an organization seeking to “empower individuals within communities, institutions, and governments to take personal responsibility to act on behalf of those affected by genocide, mass atrocities, and crimes against humanity.” One of their flagship programs is Darfur United, an all-star, all-Darfuri refugee soccer team that travels internationally to play and tell their story.  The organization also has travel programs to visit the refugee camps of Chad, to open up lines of international activism. Additionally, their Little Ripples program is creating pre-school programs for this population exposed to severe trauma. Volunteer opportunities as well as ways to support are varied and vital–check them out.

So it’s not just painting faces and screaming until we are hoarse–the world of soccer can open up eyes to issues that truly must be recognized and addressed within our global family.

World Cup-Inspired

So I’m not sure whether Paul the Oracle Octopus will choose Spain or the Netherlands to win the World Cup, but I do know that the World Cup has finally conquered the US with Football Fever (soccer for us with our weird naming), bringing us up to the level of the rest of the world where the sport has been the most popuar on the globe.

When I was researching sport volunteer options for 500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference, I had a tough time filling a chapter with any sport-focused volunteering that WASN’T soccer. I found a swimming coaching program here, maybe teaching tennis to kids in a distant land there, but mostly it was all about footie. So if you are a player or juts a fan, you can help kids and adults around the world find the importance of teamwork, exercise, and community building all with that black and white ball (or a bunch of t-shirts tied into a sphere–the beauty of soccer is there isn’t any fancy equipment or playing field required).

Find out more by checking these out, and using it as a launching pad–there are many more…

The Homeless World Cup takes place in a  different city each year, after qualifying tourneys in their own countries, championship teams, all homeless players, converge for a huge tournament run by volunteers like you. 2010 is in late September in Rio.

Also in Rio is a coaching kids volunteer gig via Institute for Field Research Expeditions.

i-to-i does soccer coaching volunteer vacations in Posada, Argentina (as well as a host of other volunteer vacation opportunities).

World Endeavors will get you to Accra, Ghana to work with kids as they play through their passion for football.

Pitch in teaching on the pitch in La Esperanza, Honduras with Intibuca Soccer Volunteers.

In Madurai, India, the sport and community clubs keep active with international volunteers who visit and work with Travellers Worldwide. Working with the same organization, kids in Ja-Ela, Sri Lanka need volunteers like you to help get fields safe (gravel, dirt, and broken glass don’t make for great play) and run tournaments.

How about some soccer coaching in Chisinau, Moldova? Projects Abroad gets you there and sets you up to help kids excel.

In Hout Bay, South Africa, the vuvuzelas were blaring for the World Cup, and kids are eager learners, benefitting from your coaching with Abang Africa Travel.

Closer to home, in Santa Cruz, California, the Resource Center for Nonviolence has inspiring volunteer programs focused on community sport/soccer league for at-risk kids.

There are 14 urban areas across the United States: Atlanta, Bay Area/San Francisco, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, DC, Denver, L.A., Miami, Milwaukeee, New England, New York, Seattle, and St Louis that all benefit from the volunteer efforts of soccer coaches and supporters via the America SCORES program for sport and creative expression.

Safari to Support Girls’ Literacy in Africa

Photo: Africa Adventure Consultants

For some reason, African Safari trips have lately been coming up in conversation around me much more than usual. I cherish the memories of my trip to South Africa and Zambia, and can’t wait to get back, repeatedly. There seems to be something in the air/season as so many people I know are all talking about going for the first time , or returning soon. I suspect it is more than just the ubiquitous attention on the World Cup in South Africa, but perhaps that is why the destination is top of mind now, in particular.

Africa Adventure Consultants and AfricAid are teaming up to provide you an opportunity to have a trip-of-a-lifetime safari (and believe me, you will never forget the safari experience) while contributing to the Kisa Project for scholarship and leadership training for young African women. The portion of your safari cost that is donated will provide a two-year scholarship for one girl’s education. AfricAid provides funding for scholarships, school building projects, leadership training, vocational and teacher training, school supplies, school lunch programs, and it works in conjunction with the local initiatives of Tanzanians and other African leaders committed to education.

This 13-day In-Depth Cultural Experience & Wildlife Safari is in Tanzania and boasts game viewing in Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater, and Serengeti parks, village visits to AfricAid-supported schools, accommodations in luxury tented and mobile camps and lodges, meals, land transfers and more. The wildlife experience will be one of your life’s treasures—I promise—and the difference you make, directly, in the life of a young woman will, in fact, impact our entire world. Opening a door in this way ushers a young woman to greatness, and THAT is worthwhile whether you get to see the Big 5 or not.