The Scort Foundation has been gathering momentum swiftly since launching in 2007 as The Football Club Social Alliance to help children in war torn regions and developing countries through football. The Alliance, which counts European clubs FC Basel 1893, SV Werder Bremen, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FK Austria Wien as steady members and Liverpool and Spurs among its project partners, described the challenges of working on projects from the West Bank to Kosovo to Alex Lawson.
The Football Club Social Alliance is an ambitious body. Whether coaching kids in Sudan, a country scarred by civil war, or working in the political hotbed of the West Bank, it has a singular aim to help some of the world’s most disadvantaged children.
Some key figures have been involved with Scort’s creation including former FC Basel president Gigi Oeri and former UN special adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, as well as the former President of Switzerland Adolf Ogi, who was appointed by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan. Led by chief executive Marc-Andre Buchwalder, the organisation’s mission has been clear – to engage the attention and resources of Europe’s big clubs and use it in poorer countries.
The model is simple. A minimum of two clubs jointly take part in each project and all partner clubs of The Football Club Social Alliance decide together on future project locations.
Some of the projects undertaken by The Football Club Social Alliance include staging youth camps with the four European club partners (FC Basel, Bayer Leverkusen, SV Werder Bremen, and FK Austria Wien) to promote disability football in Switzerland and Germany. FC Basel and Spurs back a project to support refugees returning to their homes in Sri Lanka after the end of the civil war in 2009.
The Alliance has perhaps been most active in Palestine where its work on the West Bank has helped children facing some of the most tense and oppressive conditions in the world.
“Within a conflict dominated region, young people are confronted with a lack of access to educational opportunities and international know-how,” explains Buchwalder.
“This can inevitably lead to a certain level of frustration and lack of self-esteem. Therefore, the aim was to foster self-confidence and engagement of young people within the coaching education programme in co-operation with top European football clubs. During the programme, the young women and men learned to become proactive and to set individual targets.”
The Football Club Social Alliance ran a year-long initiatives in Bethlehem giving football coaching and education, supported in part by Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC.
Moreover, it has been working to train up young coaches to pass on their skills in their locality. In 2010, the Alliance trained up 25 Sudanese men and women to conduct safe and suitable football training for ethnically and socially mixed groups of children.
“Together we educate young people as qualified football coaches and role models for disadvantaged children and by doing this inspire them to become socially engaged in their community,” adds Buchwalder. “Values such as respect, fair play, tolerance and solidarity as well as dealing with conflicts and failures need to be taught to the children by the young coaches.”
And the organisation is making a difference. Since 2007, the year-long coaching education programmes in Europe, Asia and Africa have reached more than 6,900 disadvantaged children and young people. So far 161 young women and men have been trained to become young coaches, providing them with the skills and know-how to conduct their own activities for disadvantaged children in their communities and organisations.
But progressing this isn’t easy. Even football isn’t immune from the global economic downturn. The foundation’s funding is shared between its partner clubs, local organisations on the ground and international donors for which the body is more than keen. The foundation also battles on a daily basis to get its cause heard, communicate its social value and keep networks together after leaving a country.
“Scort’s vision is a world in which all children living in difficult circumstances are able to play sport and are inspired to subsequently develop positive social skills and aspirations,” says Buchwalder.
A wide reaching goal then but something which a combination of high profile names and gruelling work on the ground might just be able to achieve.
Tags: Bayer Leverkusen, Community, Community Matters, FC Basel, FK Austria Wien, Liverpool, Palestine, Scort Foundation, Spurs, Sudan, The Football Club Social Alliance, Werder Bremen