On 28th May, Play for Change (PFC) and Jupiler Pro League hosted a youth football competition at the Waasland-Beveren football stadium in Belgium to promote fairplay amongst children, whilst providing a once-in-a-life-time experience.
PFC is dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable children through sport and education, and together with the Pro League, the top football league in Belgium, they put on the second annual competition.
In a country divided between Flanders and Wallonia and an increasing amount of refugees seeking safety, children and young people can experience high levels of social exclusion.
With this in mind, PFC and the Pro League were able to provide an inclusive and safe space where different teams came from across the country. The schools’ teams were selected by the Pro League clubs through a football and social good competition. To encourage social inclusion and gender equality, all of the teams were mixed and children from 4 Belgian refugee centres were invited to represent PFC.
‘People tend to come together because they speak the same language or come from the same community, but on the field everyone comes together to overcome those social barriers”, says Kevin Buytaert, Coach from Rode Krus, one of the participating refugee centres.
Whilst promoting social values, the kids experienced a fun and unforgettable day. If you ask a young person ‘what do you want to be when you are older?’, it would not come as a surprise for them to answer ‘a professional football player’. This came true for the 320 eleven and twelve-year-old children in Belgium who wore the Pro-league clubs’ official strips and arrived in the official players’ coach.
But it was not just the ‘day in the life of a professional’ experience that marked the success of the day, it was the consistent fair play and team work efforts which PFC and Pro League actively promoted.
Schools Cup is a national youth football tournament which provides the unique opportunity for children to experience playing football like a professional whilst teaching the values of fair play and gender equality, in addition to the sporting aspect. The teams were mixed with at least 3 girls per team and the Fair Play Cup was awarded after the tournament to the most fairplay team.
Play for Change and Pro League congratulate all the teams for their sporting behaviour during the tournament and all the fans, young and old, who positively and pleasantly encouraged players like real pros. They look forward to the third annual competition.
Thank you to all the partners who supported the Pro League Play for Change Schools Cup.
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Play for Change is dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable children around the world using the power of sport to improve education and build life skills. We believe sport can play a significant role in a child’s cognitive, emotional and physical development. We want to see a world where all children are equipped with the vital life-skills that they need for their future.
At Play for Change we combine sporting and educational programmes so children can play, learn and develop. We rebuild playgrounds so children can play in safe and stimulating environments away from harm; we provide workshops so children learn the life skills they need for happy and healthy futures; and we support educational and employment opportunities to help create communities that are empowered to develop and thrive.
Find out more about the project here: http://www.playforchange.org
Pro League primarily organises and plans the most important football competitions in Belgium Division 1, better known in its present form as the Jupiler Pro League. The Pro League also assists its members, the professional clubs in various ways and this direct support focuses on several grounds; legal, financial and in terms of data management. Finally, the Pro League also defends the interests of clubs at the Royal Football Union, administrations and even if any (with the Belgian Football Federation) from international football bodies such as UEFA and FIFA.
For more information: www.jupilerproleague.be