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 reve