Copyright Fundlife International 2015An interview with Fundlife International Project Assistant Christine Paula Love Bernasor.

Christine, could you give us an overview of the initiative please?

I am project assistant for Fundlife International where we are currently implementing the 'Football for Life' (F4L) child empowerment project in Tacloban.  Our work provides crucial psychosocial intervention for Haiyan-Survivor children. We use football to restore hope, identity, purpose and belonging to children deeply affected by Haiyan.  

How is Football for Life different from other organizations who also have the same advocacy?

We don't consider F4L to be a football project, which might sound strange. But that in itself is what makes F4L unique.

Our core advocacy is for children to believe in their dreams and have the confidence to fulfill their true potential. Often, in communities of low income and low opportunity, or in communities where natural calamities are regular, children are not thinking about the future, and living day to day, in survival mode.

Through football, we encourage them to commit themselves to improving. We show them if they practice football, their skills will improve and then we communicate that the same is true to anything in life.  

Copyright Fundlife International 2015In your opinion, what is the impact of the project?

It's very difficult to quantify how much of an impact we make. We believe the first step of development should come with the child wanting to be developed. You cannot teach ambition or hard-work overnight.

Our job is to show and motivate children to invest in themselves - this is incredibly hard, if a child's entire life has been one where the environment stifles and ambition and dreams.

So, we use football as a fun and engaging way to help them identify the talent within themselves. Impact will vary from child to child. For some football is just a fun game. For others, it will serve as a confidence boost to do better in school, in social situations and hopefully in getting a better life.

We firmly believe development is about tackling the root cause of poverty, which is never the external outcomes, but rather the cultural heritage of poverty. For us to have true impact, we need to make sure we work with partners who feel the same way.

Copyright Fundlife International 2015How do you empower and support children development?

We encourage children to make their own decisions in life (just like they do in football).

By making them accountable for their choices, they become empowered to decide what kind of future they want to have. As children, of course, they rely on parents and adults to guide them through big decisions, but we try to demonstrate they still have the ability to positively affect their circumstances.

It's a slow process, which can only happen with time, experiences and constant positive reinforcement. We believe dependency stifles ambition and empowerment, and in football you cannot be dependent on others.

We encourage children to adopt this approach in life: you need to be interdependent on your team-mates, but not dependent on anyone.

For regular updates on the Football for Life project, please check facebook.com/F4LCF


By Benjamin McCormack

The Academies Act of 2010, introduced in the United Kingdom by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, allowed for the creation of so-called ‘free schools’: independent schools that can be set up by private businesses, community groups or concerned parents, are state-funded but are not controlled by a local authority. This became something of a flag ship initiative for Education Secretary Michael Gove, who has claimed that the programme will succeed in creating greater local competition and therefore drive up educational standards (Gove, 2012) in a manner which he says reflects wider international trends in education (Machin & Vernoit, 2014). Despite a backdrop of vehement protestations and dissatisfaction (NUT, 2012), Gove is determined to make a success of his free school initiative, and it is obviously with this in mind that he is now encouraging football clubs to become key contributors to the programme.

Free SchoolsFootball is this nation’s greatest game, and future international events, such as the World Cup, will have the ability to capture an unrivalled audience. Thousands of fans turn out each week to support their favourite club and the relationship between club and fan is the basis for many community events held by Premier league and lower league clubs. Gove has recently called upon Premier League and Championship clubs especially, to begin opening free schools of their own, in order to “give something back to the local community”, which is often a community that is united behind such a football club. It is this position as the “heartbeat” of local communities, which Gove claims makes these clubs ideally placed to become the newest organisations to break ground on innovative free schools (Paton, 2014). Up to now there have only been a handful of clubs who have appeared keen to follow Gove’s advice, with Tottenham Hotspur recently declaring their intention to follow the lead of Everton and Derby County in helping to run a school funded by the taxpayer (Boffey, 2012). It is clearly early days for football club driven free schools, but there is already evidence that this linkage to the United Kingdom’s national obsession could provide a much needed shot in the arm for the free school initiative.

If you take Everton’s pioneering free school as an example, you see an independent school which began just two years ago with a mere 15 pupils on its roll, but which has recently lodged plans with Liverpool City Council to open up on a new site allowing it to cater to 200 children (Johnson, 2014). This is an impressive expansion plan that suggests a good deal of success in the short time that the school has been in operation, and also reveals the reason why Gove might be right in claiming that football clubs are indeed ideally placed to open his free schools. This revelation comes from the fact that Everton Football Club’s free school was by no means the start of the club’s forays into the local community, and instead can be seen as an extension of the Everton in the Community Scheme, which has been active since the mid-80s and a registered charity since 2004 (Barrett-Baxendale, 2014). It is clear from this, that clubs do already have, and are already fostering, the kind of community links which Gove believes are crucial to the success of free schools. The schools’ detractors, on the other hand, take an altogether different view.

Teachers’ leaders, and most notably the National Union of Teachers (NUT), take a dim view of free schools in general, and have also weighed in on the topic of football clubs establishing such institutions, claiming that this places the crucial responsibility of children’s education into the hands of those with no experience in the field. In an interview with the Telegraph newspaper Christine Blower, the general secretary of the NUT, clarifies their position by claiming that they do not object to football clubs assisting with youth education but that they “can readily think of existing organisations which are ideally placed to bring communities together and take charge of children’s education” and that these are local authorities (Paton, 2014). This particular criticism of the idea of football club running free schools stands alongside a number of other compelling arguments of the NUT that any kind of free schools are a hindrance (NUT, 2012) rather than a help to the teaching profession. The most notable of these arguments include the claims that free schools undermine the professional status, pay and conditions of teachers, damage local authorities’ ability to plan and manage schooling within their regions and unfairly skew the funding of education in the UK by taking a disproportionate amount of investment from the government.

It would be wholly wrong to ignore or disregard these reasoned arguments from those who represent the teaching profession, and have done so for far longer than the free school initiative has existed, but if free schools ever could work then it may well be as a part of an established and respected community-oriented programme. However, there are few programmes of this type with the required gravitas to successfully establish a free school, but those related to major football clubs are certainly best placed. This has been demonstrated, albeit on a limited and short term scale, by the Everton Football Club free school and, as well as suggesting that more clubs may soon follow Everton, Derby and Tottenham’s lead, it also indicates that this avenue may be the most successful one yet for the free school programme as a whole.

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Barrett-Baxendale, D. (2014) 25th Anniversary [Online]. Available from: <http://community.evertonfc.com/everton-in-the-community-25-years/> [Accessed 6 May 2014].
Boffey, D. (2012) Tottenham Hotspur in talks to open free school at their new stadium [Online]. Available from: <http://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/feb/05/tottenham-hotspur-free-school> [Accessed 5 May 2014].
Gove, M. (2012) Prime Minister: more new free schools than ever before to raise standards and increase choice [Online]. Available from: <https://www.gov.uk/government/news/prime-minister-more-new-free-schools-than-ever-before-to-raise-standards-and-increase-choice> [Accessed 6 May 2014].
Johnson, M. (2014) Everton FC free school building work begins on new multi-million pound development [Online]. Available from: <http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/everton-fc-free-school-building-6945658> [Accessed 5 May 2014].
Machin, S. & Vernoit, J. (2014) Changing School Autonomy: Academy Schools and their Introduction to England’s Education. [Internet]. London, Centre for the Economics of Education. Available from: <http://cee.lse.ac.uk/ceedps/ceedp123.pdf> [Accessed 11 May 2014].
NUT, (2012) Free Schools: A Cause for Concern [Online]. Available from: <http://www.teachers.org.uk/node/15481> [Accessed 5 May 2014].
Paton, G. (2014) Gove wants football clubs to help run state schools [Online]. Available from: <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10683319/Gove-wants-football-clubs-to-help-run-state-schools.html> [Accessed 5 May 2014].

RESPONSIBALL will team up with some of its member football clubs at the International Sports Convention (ISC), to be held at the renowned Palexpo venue next to Geneva International Airport.

A total of 18 sport, and largely football-related, conferences, featuring 150 speakers and 1,500 delegates, will take place around a combined exhibition and networking hall during the two days of 10-11 December.

RESPONSIBALL will be presenting at the Sports Environment and Sustainability conference, and the Football Business conference. The full list of conferences can be found on the ISC website.

RESPONSIBALL’s involvement in the conference means that we’re able to offer an early-bird discount to newsletter recipients. By quoting ‘res2014’ in the registration process before September 30, you will receive a 25% reduction on the face value of the ticket.  

RESPONSIBALL has been built to help clubs attain the full positive potential of their far-reaching communication channels. We believe that football clubs are cultural institutions with a unique standing within the community and great potential to provide social value.

Join us at our stand at the ISC, or visit one of the conferences we’re presenting at, to learn more, offer your views, meet football club representatives and other like-minded professionals, and further contribute to a growing movement.

For more information:

Event website: http://geneva2014.com/
Registration page: http://geneva2014.com/registration/

ISC - Geneva 2014:
Nigel Fletcher


SurveyRESPONSIBALL is this year conducting a public review of the indicators used to assess football clubs’ social responsibility scores. The online survey is being conducted to ensure that the indicators are current and relevant.

The RESPONSIBALL Ranking, now in its fourth year, is an assessment of a football clubs’ commitment to social responsibility—to the extent that indicators are communicated transparently—across three main pillars: Governance, Community, and Environment.

For the past three years, a selection of top tier national leagues have been ranked according to an analysis of information that the leagues’ football clubs communicate on their websites. This approach reflects a philosophy that good practices in social responsibility should be communicated and shared by clubs.

A first round of feedback was conducted among RESPONSIBALL's Supporting Partners earlier this year. Based on the comments received, and in consideration of internationally recognised social responsibility guidelines and standards, a complete review of the indicators was then conducted. The newly established indicators are now available on the survey for public review.

The feedback gathered in this review will be used to formulate the indicators used in this summer’s Ranking.

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