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How soccer can save the world

Yasmine Cathell's picture

Soccer (aka football) is more than just a fun, popular, international sport. Soccer plays a role in international development by funding global education, effecting positive social change and producing renewable energy.  Yes, renewable energy.
Baby and soccer ball

Soccer and Society

Soccer is unique in that it crosses all geographic, ethnic and religious boundaries. While almost everyone on this planet knows of, plays or has watched others play football, aside from goals scored and long standing team rivalries, rarely do we hear about the more important value and ability for this and other sports to effect positive social change.

Sports engage people, foster teamwork, release endorphins and teach young people important life lessons about hard work, dedication and relying on others. Perhaps more importantly, sports like soccer help to keep kids off the streets and away from drugs and violence. Since this is particularly true and important in the developing world, I was excited to discover that there are a surprising number of organizations out there trying to do good through soccer. Beyond Sport brings these organizations together by promoting, developing, and funding the use of sport to create positive social change around the world. It connects these sports do-gooders through an awards program, an annual summit and a networking platform.
Boy playing football. Photo: Yasmine Cathell
A boy practices at the Sierra Leone Youth Football Development Centre

Soccer and Education
With traditional forms of foreign assistance falling short, education advocates are looking for an innovative approach to financing global education and the answer seems to be soccer. The UN has recently asked FIFA to institute a 0.4 percent educational tax on broadcasting and sponsorship revenues from the upcoming 2010 World Cup as well as the five European leagues until 2015. The tax would generate an estimated $48 million per year until the next World Cup in 2014 and could help give 2 million children access to a basic education. The impact this kind of funding could have is crucial, especially in a time when traditional sources of funding are stagnating and even declining (2007) according to studies by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Soccer and Energy
Ever wonder what happens to the energy generated by a kick, pass or dribble? Although I’ve always been an avid soccer fan I can’t say that this thought has ever crossed my mind, but fortunately that was not the case for 4 girls in an engineering class who came up with this brilliant idea. They call it a sOccket and are currently finalizing this soccer ball of the future. The ball absorbs the energy of impact, stores it and later makes the energy available to power a light bulb, charge a cell phone, or well, you get the idea. The ball has already been piloted in South Africa and further development is being funded by the youth humanitarian program at the Clinton Global Initiative. This kind of energy would offer an alternative to kerosene lamps, which are frequently used in developing countries and can be harmful to one’s health.
Boys playing with sOcket balls. Photo: Yasmine Cathell
Kids in South Africa testing out sOcket balls


Submitted by Michael Boampong on
It is amazing how football is uniting people. In Ghana football has been seen as one of the unifying sports activities that can unit people of all tribes. I think there will be the need to support studies on how football is playing or can play a key role in the development front so that there is some empirical evidence. I find it interesting to add that football has played an important role in the fight for gender equality in Iran. It is important to note that in the 1930s women we not allowed for football events in stadiums in Iran. In the 1970s, when the Iranian national team played an important game, thousands of women demonstrated outside the stadium and demanded access to the game. By sheer force of numbers, the ban was lifted and women were granted full access to the games.

Submitted by Anonymous on
What a cool idea! To have children creating energy, and enjoying themselves at the same time, is a neat idea. It gives the children a good feeling in knowing that they are helping themselves. More sOcket balls should be imported to these countries so children can feel that they are doing something to help themselves and their communities. I am wondering however, how much cost is involved in making those balls and how long they are able to last as this is for sure an important aspect in the succes of these balls.

Submitted by Najean Phillip on
I don't believe that soccer can save the world. I believe that only the Lord Jesus Christ can save the world. People just have to believe Him. Soccer is a means by which people can improve their lives. We have many examples of this.

Submitted by Justin on
Creating renewable energy from a sport that already is so important to the world is an incredible idea and adds yet another reason to the long list of reasons to be involved in sports. I'm sure we will have naysayers but an educational tax would almost certainly benefit all parties especially the children that will have access to education which will strengthen the economic status of many countries.

Submitted by Anonymous on
i think that sports in general is a great way to help people around the worl connect with one another and become united. it is a fun thing for kids to do and could potentially become a career for some if they persue it further. sports brings out alot of advantages to people and the economy...sports push people to reach their goals, how to be a "team" , gives them positive attitudes, and it keeps them out of trouble with the law ... it is a great idea

Submitted by katherine on
sports is a great way to feel re-energized and refreshed. after playing a good game of volley ball or base ball is a awsome feeling. and to think all the natural smells of the trees and grass is cleansing to our body's yay to sports and the outside

Submitted by Sonja Ende on
The chapter "soccer and economic development" has to be added to the list on how soccer can save the world :-) . The infrastructural investments in Ghana for the Africa Cup in 2008 have spurred economic development. Now South Africa is looking forward to host the World Cup for the first time on African ground. South Africa is expecting visitors from all over the World - a boost for the tourism sector and vast opportunities for all kinds of services. I am impatient to see how South Africa's economy will benefit from this great event!

Submitted by Michael Kane on
Not only Soccer, every sport team play can save the world, It teaches people learn to be good winner and loser. learn from failure. see more sport news from

Submitted by Hadi A. on

Soccer can be the language of Peace. I must add that this is a game played by many and watched by billions of people. Such a huge audience are definitely sharing one thing. For example take the World Cup games. This is amazing that during that event the whole world unites. It can definitely help the peace in the world. Soccer can be the language of Peace.

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