International month of sport for development and peace at FFAV

Football for All in Vietnam is extending the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace to encourage fun and positive social change for young students.

On 6 April 2017 the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) celebrated the 4th annual International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP). Non-governmental organisations around the world that use sport and physical activity as a tool to promote various development goals and peace celebrated this yearly occasion. In respect to IDSDP, Football for All in Vietnam (FFAV) continues to be a developing project that emphasises the positive aspects of sport to create positive social change amongst children in Vietnam.

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While 6 April is a tremendous way to celebrate the field of sport for development and peace, FFAV hopes to be an influential project that regularly creates spaces and opportunities for the development of pupils across Vietnam. Thus, we at FFAV decided to extend IDSDP over the whole month of April with various events taking place. A total of five events occurred through the month of April, with tournaments happening at Huong Ho secondary school, Thuy Phu secondary school and Thuy Luong secondary school, and Fun Football Festivals in Phong Dien district and Hue City.

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The energetic atmosphere was palpable at all of the events. Children were smiling, laughing, screaming and cheering. Football matches were held and life skills activities were organised. On a hot Friday morning, young girls at Thuy Phu secondary school participated in football matches, as well as the GOAL programme. As the sun shone and wind blew, pupils came out in the dozens. The crowd grew and grew, girls with pom-poms cheered their friends on, young boys sat together to encourage their classmates, and teachers smiled looking on the enjoyment the young girls were having. I watched as a team scored, young girls across the field screaming in jubilation. Their smiles were contagious, as I could not resist the smile forming on my face. The pupils to participate in this tournament on a school day were given a space to play football and have discussions on life skills. It is with these instances, while they may be short, that we can begin to see the impact FFAV is having in communities.

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The community from the headmasters, physical education teachers, and volunteers all came together for these events. At Huong Ho secondary school in Huong Tra district a group of former students came back to help organise the tournament. Now in grade 10 a group of boys returned to their old playing grounds to lead a new wave of pupils. I was excited to see these boys take an initiative in helping their former school by refereeing and setting up matches. With help from Tinh, I asked two volunteers who have played together for years why they felt the need to return to their former school to help. Ty, wearing his black and red football kit expressed that this wanting to help “comes from my football passion, and that I want to share knowledge and my experience to play football well to the younger pupils.” Ty’s friend, Cam, in a long sleeve shirt told us that his reasons to help stem from “having fun, being comfortable with the young pupils, and wanting to help the school.” Being members of the community, having fun, passion for football and wanting to help is the core of successful activities. There is a camaraderie and commitment for people who want to help organise activities such as the young boys at Huong Ho primary school.

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Communities are important when it comes to the events that take place. People with passion coming together to organise events are greatly needed. The Fun Football Festival that took place on Sunday 16 April in Phong Dien district showed this. To put on this activity there were physical education teachers, headmasters, a few parents, and members from the sub-DoET. Looking around you can see these adults smiling and having fun just like the children were. It was a positive sight to see adults dancing, laughing and enjoying themselves. Mr Khuong, the physical expert, of Phong Dien sub-DOET even joined in the activities by dancing and singing, as well as two other physical education teachers. The energy flows between the adults and the children. Creating an environment that encourages the participation for all truly makes for a fun event. So for both the children and the adults smiling and being a part of the fun in Phong Dien I saw a great time had by all.

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Ms. Kate Woodhead (right) from Standard Chartered Bank, a sponsor of FFAV and the GOAL programme

On this special Fun Football Festival in Phong Dien we had a special visitor from Standard Chartered Bank, a sponsor of FFAV and the GOAL programme. Kate Woodhead spoke at the opening ceremony emphasising the importance of having fun, encouraging the children to have fun playing football and learning life skills, and that they are the future of Vietnam. Kate was in Phong Dien to observe the GOAL programme. I had the opportunity to speak to Kate about her first impressions. Kate expressed that she was amazed to see the large number of girls engaged in the GOAL programme, because at home (London) it would be hard to get the same number of participants to join in the activities. It was reassuring to know that FFAV is creating spaces for more girls to be physically active and to learn about special topics that they may be facing. I myself looking at the GOAL activities saw young girls expressing themselves freely during discussions, laughing with each other, and playing new types of games. In the spirit of IDSDP, events like the Fun Football Festival allow for all children to participate in football and have fun learning different life skills.

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The fun and FFAV’s month-long celebration of sport for development and peace is not over yet. On Saturday 29 April there will be a Fun Football Festival in Hue City in Uyen Phuong Stadium. All are welcome to attend. Please join us for what is to be another day filled with fun, smiles and excitement!

Michael Dao

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