Save the Dream
Fútbol Con Corazón
FCC specializes in preventing the perpetuation of violence and the cycle of poverty in the form of early school drop-out, youth and gender violence, recruitment by illegal armed forces/gangs, alcohol/drug abuse, prostitution and early pregnancies. We confront triggering situations such as lack of values, within families and communities, absence parent affection and guidance, and external locus of control.
We create a safe space for children and young adults (5-17 years of age) to spend their time in a useful and educational way. Our methodology provides them with tools to face and overcome surrounding risks, make good life decisions and become the best version of themselves, no matter the environment they were brought up in.
FCC’s methodology uses soccer’s convening power, easy replicability and didactical potential in order to show children and youth core values- respect, solidarity, honesty and tolerance- and life skills, the 14 social, emotional and cognitive skills promoted by the WHO, such as assertive communication, self-esteem, non-violent problem-resolution and teamwork.
Our project normally develops like an afterschool program, although it can also be integrated in schools’ curriculums. As an afterschool, children and youth go to their soccer practice twice per week. The twist is we do not practice regular soccer.
The FCC methodology is an innovative and impactful methodology that turns soccer into a social change tool. All of our activities are planned and implemented with a pedagogical intention.
Our methodology is based on the following methods:
- Integrated Training Method: a 10-month curriculum that incorporates 4 values and 14 life skills that will be taught alongside technical soccer aspects. Every activity has a technical aspect and a life lesson. Each practice ends with a reflection where beneficiaries contemplate how they can use what they have learned in their day-to-day lives.
- Soccer for Peace: our games promote inclusion, selfevaluation, fair play and accountability. Some of the innovate rules include there is no referee; teams are mixed (girls and boys); girls have to make the first goal; and the winner is determined not only by goals but also by their conduct during the game, which the players themselves evaluate.
All FCC activities are developed in one of the community’s soccer field. Whether they are public or private, we reach out to the managing organization in order to ask for its use in benefit of the community.
FCC coaches will train Monday through Saturday. The beneficiaries are divided into four age-groups, which are gendermixed. The only requirements for children to enroll in our program:
– To live in that same community;
– To be enrolled and be attending to formal education;
– To have a parent’s approval.
At the monthly “parents’ school”, parents learn the same values and skills that are being taught to their children and are given appropriate tools to promote the same message at home.
All these activities are carried out by our coaches. They usually come from a sports background but have a highly sensitive social sense, or from a social background (psychologist, social worker, teachers…) and are very sports oriented. Also, many of our current coaches were once beneficiaries of our program, who after our leadership program, are now creating change in their own communities or others.
Coaches will work hand-in-hand with other community organizations and leaders in the search creating a better environment for the children and the community.
Each project has its “social investor(s)”, who covers all of its running costs for no less than 3 years. As the community empowers itself, some or all fundraising is done locally. Costs include the coaches’ salaries, the sports materials, uniforms, children’s insurance and other operational costs.
Our M&E program shows quantitative and qualitative impact results. Both through our own data and as revealed by the Latin American Bank study done to us 2016-2017, the FCC way creates the following impact in our beneficiaries:
– +70,000 children and young adults impacted in +70 communities;
– 54,000 children and young adults currently active in programs with our methodology;
– 190 young adults graduated from our leadership program;
– Presence in Colombia, Panama and the USA, and impact in Argentina, Costa Rica and Ecuador.
– Application of our guidebook with our soccer-fordevelopment methodologies and model of intervention, covering the 10-month per year curriculum that works four main values and 14 social, emotional and cognitive abilities
– Creation of an online platform that certifies coaches in the FCC methodology anywhere in the world.
- Increase in the use of introduced values and life skills (+10% per year);
- Better attitude towards school and conduct in class;
- Decrease in school dropouts and teen pregnancies;
- Increase in self-esteem and self-awareness;
- Improvement in the perception of gender roles;
- Significant increase in sports practice;
- Reduction in time dedicated to non-productive and risky
activities; ü 80% of our coaches were once beneficiaries of our
Our innovation strategy is based on our sustainability approach, where the empowerment of community members and young leaders is essential in the process. Our model projects the creation of a Community Committee, who’s members, gradually, take charge of the operation and fundraising to cover its costs.
The long-term impact is more empowered and cohesive communities, young leaders creating change not only in their communities, but also elsewhere, increase of youth employment, and more children graduating high school and moving into college.
1. Integration of pedagogical and sports activities This has been key to the success of our program. Soccer is our tool to make our beneficiaries understand the importance of practicing values and life skills. When we started in 2007, our program divided the sports and the educations aspects in two different sessions, in different environments (field and classroom) and with different teachers. We soon realized the power, both in terms of assistance and impact, resided in combining them.
Beneficiaries construct their own meaning of the values and abilities in our curriculum exercises, questions and everyday situations. Soccer is our tool; education is our objective.
2. Working with parents on a monthly basis Working on life skills and every-day situations makes it imperative to work with parents. We all have to align in what messages and examples we and they are giving their children. Many of the problems that the children have are originated in their homes. So, by working with the parents, not only are we multiplying the number of times that our message is being given to them, but also contributing to mitigate or even eradicate some of those situations at home that might be causing the child’s misconduct in the first place.
3. Working with local leaders Leaders might be selected to work as coaches or they can be powerful allies for assessment, entry in the community, presentation of the project and throughout the implementation process. Some of the benefits are:
1. Gain the community’s trust from day one;
2. Clearly understanding the local dynamics/culture;
3. Change the negative local culture elements (such as violenceorientation, external control locus, normalization of abuses…) from within.
4. Training young adults to become leaders This approach does not only positively impact them– as they are provided with a source of employment, whether it is with our organization or on their own– but also, to amplify and create sustainable impact. A coach that was once a beneficiary works with another level of understanding and passion. Most importantly, they serve as inspiration to the children they work with.
Benefits for the target group:
– Increase in the use of introduced life skills;
– Higher rates of finishing school;
– Increase in self-esteem and self-awareness;
– Less gender inequality;
– More community cohesion;
– Reduction of violence in community;
– Significant increase in sports practice;
– Reduction in time dedicated to non-productive and risky activities;
– Youth employment.
Sports should not only be looked upon as a way to summon children and play. But as a powerful tool to experience and learn about real-life situations such as stress, decision-making, teamwork, self-confidence, conflict and social interaction. In a controlled and guided space, children can experiment different reactions and understand how one feels when making certain decisions.
For replication of these good practices we recommend to always think about impact, scalability and sustainability. We must adapt our implementation models to each context, work in collaboration and promote for local empowerment.
Also, the methodology itself must be driven by a child-centred approach. Children are active elements in all of this process. Never assume adults know best. Coaches are there to guide them through a learning process, but not to tell them what lessons they must take out of each activity. We each experience life in very different ways, mostly as children, so our concept of a word will differ from that of them, because of their age, context and self.