- by Mano Silva Director, love.fútbol for All

According to a recent survey conducted by FIFA, over 265 million people around the world play organized soccer. But if you take into consideration all of the people who share a passion for “the beautiful game” by simply setting up a couple makeshift goals and kicking a ball around, that number rises into the billions. The world’s passion for soccer is truly an exceptional force and I feel very fortunate that I have been able to experience this.

Soccer has been an important part of my life since I can remember, but it has only been in the last five years that I began to realize and experience the power of soccer for social change. In 2009, a group of friends and I started a team called Brazil, F.C., to use soccer as a bridge that would connect us to remote places around the world. In that same year, during a trip to Niger, Africa, 20,000 people showed up to watch us play Niger’s national team. In Haiti, I participated in the development of a soccer program to motivate children to go back to school after the catastrophic earthquake of 2010. The one soccer field available serves about 5,000 children and some of them walk for 2 hours to play! Despite all the difficulties and the virtually nonexistent budget for the program, 270 children regularly arrive at the field at 6AM sharp, Monday through Saturday, to be able to take part in the game they love. Without speaking a word of French or Creole, I made friends for life In Niger and Haiti.

Like you and me, children all over the world are in love with this game. love.fútbol’s goal is to unite the global soccer community to provide youth abroad with the opportunity to play the game we all love. To achieve that, love.fútbol is launching a movement called “love.fútbol for All - through this game we are together.”

Through love.fútbol for All, any soccer team or group of students can connect with a community abroad and provide hundreds of underserved youth with the right to soccer. And while you may be asking yourself: Is it really possible for the local youth to make such a big difference in communities abroad? The answer is definitely.

Through both team and individual efforts, an under 16 girl’s soccer team from Bethesda, Maryland, called Real Bethesda, fully funded the raw materials necessary to construct a love.fútbol soccer field in Xejuyú, Guatemala, a beneficiary community where 600 children now have a safe place to play. love.fútbol for All allowed two communities of vast cultural and linguistic differences, Xejuyú and Real Bethesda, to form a unique connection based on their shared passion for soccer.

Real Bethesda’s commitment to love.fútbol was just the beginning of the movement. After raising $5,000 with her teammates from Real Bathesda, Marisa Bruno started the Churchill love.fútbol Chapter, which now has over 200 members. According to Marisa, “A great thing about having a club like love.fútbol is that so many people can connect to the cause. Many people have played soccer at one point in their lives and were impacted at least marginally by the sport. Most members are still active on a team and recognize how lucky they are to have had the chance to play."

In addition, two local youth teams, Toca Juniors FC and Metros96, a student group, GW love.fútbol (the George Washington University Chapter), and a group of young professionals from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Organization of American States (OAS), and the World Bank, called Play 4 Development, have taken action by organizing activities such as 3v3 and 5v5 soccer tournaments, car washes, bake sales, sponsor-a-goal seasons, discount cards, and other activities, all to benefit love.fútbol’s cause.

We need you to take part in this movement to recruit new teams, spread the word to schools, and recruit new Ambassadors. Be a local leader!

For more information on how to throw a fundraising event for love.fútbol, please reach out to our love.fútbol for All Director Mano Silva, at mano@lovefutbol.org, and ask for our Fundraising Kit.