World Cup

OK footballs not coming home and I‰Ûªll be honest I‰Ûªm gutted.åÊ I brought the shirt, the car flags (they looked rubbish), a silly hat, a bottle opener that roars a like a lion when you open your beer; I even painted my face as George the Lion for the Germany game, admittedly I should have gone for the more traditional St. Georges cross.åÊ No one got it and I think people just thought I was weird.åÊ All in all I feel pretty stupid.

Let‰Ûªs try and take the positives though.åÊ To do this I‰Ûªm going to step away from Don Fabio and his not so merry men and focus on the mightiness of the beautiful game.

Down the years there have been some wonderful examples of the power of football.åÊ From England and Germany stopping fighting to have a kickabout in no mans land on Boxing Day 1914, to the Robben Island football league which prisoners set up in 1966 to unite them and make a stand against apartheid rule.

Fifa and Unicef have realised this remarkable power and combined to develop the ‰Û÷Unite for Children, Unite for Peace‰Ûª campaign.

Another example is the ‰Û÷One day, One goal‰Ûª campaign.åÊ Inspired by the boxing day story, they believe, like many that football can unite and inspire peace, thus they have created a day of global youth-related football events and activities – to mark the UN International Day of Peace, held annually on September 21st.

As well as being used as an inspiration for peace, football and sport in general can be utilised as a powerful educational tool instilling important values such as discipline, teamwork, fair play, and the ability to follow instructions to achieve a common objective. All these skills are transferrable to every walk of life.åÊ Football can truly be the teacher.

‰Û÷1GOAL‰Ûª (similar name, different campaign) have used football and this world cup in Africa in particular to launch an ‰Û÷Education for All‰Ûª campaign that has been joined by over 12million people world wide.

Football is now a multi-billion dollar business but the above proves that it is perhaps even more valuable as a tool to unite and educate communities all over the world at grass roots level.

Now the world cup in Africa has united South Africa in a way that the country has never experienced before.åÊ Whether white, black, rich or poor everyone is mixing and partying together.åÊ No one could have said it better than the great man, Nelson Mandela; who played the biggest role in making it all possible:

“The World Cup will help unify people, if there is one thing in this planet that has the power to bind people, it is soccer.”

As a football mad nation their love for the game and life in general has for me been the highlight of this years World Cup.åÊ OK the vuvuzela‰Ûªs have got a little bit annoying but probably no more so than my Lion roaring bottle opener or insistence on playing Vindaloo on repeat for 2 hours before each game.

Did you see the South African team, dancing and singing their way down the tunnel before their opening game? åÊCould you imagine England entering the pitch with Capello leading a conga?åÊ No.åÊ That‰Ûªs why Gazza should be manager.

Their goal celebrations are a cut above too.

Ultimately football might not be coming home but when you think about it football leaving home has been far, far more powerful.

If you‰Ûªve been inspired by this years World Cup check out our Africa and Asia sports volunteer projects to see how you can get involved and build upon what this world cup has started. Click here to get involved.

P.S. We’d love to hear your thoughts so please feel free to make a comment below.

The Power of Footbal