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Fatoumata Kanté. PHOTO: Gerard Olivé

'FutbolNet' at the Pavelló Pla de l’Ametller. PHOTO: Gerard Olivé

Fatoumata Kanté, who was born in Banyoles, is a skillful player with the ball at her feet but this isn’t the reason why she’s part of the FutbolNet project. Many of her team-mates don’t posses the talent she has but they are all part of the FC Barcelona Foundation’s project. In FutbolNet, the player that scores the most goals doesn’t win, rather the person that best understands and applies the six values highlighted by the Foundation does. The values taught by the Foundation are: commitment, respect, tolerance, team work, responsibility and effort.

Two weekly sessions with 60 participants

Since March, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, after school, Fatou dedicates a couple of hours to playing football with these values. Like her, 60 participants from Banyoles, ranging from 12 to 16 years of age, gather at the Pabellón Pla de l’Ametller to continue their growth, not just as footballers but as people. “If I participate in FutbolNet, I have to apply myself more in my studies,” says Fatou. This is the agreement that she made with his parents. Participating in this project is a pleasure and privilege for her. In return, she’s committed to apply herself in her studies. It’s a side effect to the inherent benefits of the project. “We’re all equal here,” she says. “I learn to play without a referee, to respect my rival and to not cross the line.”

“The project stimulates my work in school”

Fatou, who comes from a Gambian family, was selected by the Foundation and by the government of Banyoles to participate in the project. “Football isn’t for girls,” was Musa’s first reaction, Fatou’s father, when he heard of the project. However, thanks to some of the teachers at Fatou’s school, Musa understood that football isn’t a gender specific sport and that FutbolNet brings a very interesting added benefit to his daughter’s education. “The project stimulates school work and good behaviour among peers,” says Víctor Pérez, director of IES Pere Alsius, the school where Fatou attends class. “Moreover, a Barça project is always very attractive to students.”

Learning the significance of the word ‘respect’

For Pau Rodíguez, monitor of FutbolNet in Banyoles, the project offers “another way to see football that helps the participants deal with difficult situations in their lives.” According to Rodríguez it’s essential to hammer home the values taught by the project, “there are youths that participate in the sessions that don’t understand the meaning of respect.”

FutbolNet is a 24-week long project that has different campuses in Banyoles, Salt, Olot, Barcelona and Santa Coloma de Gramenet. Each session divides up into three parts: a discussion about the previous match, a football match and a post-match talk. The dialogue, therefore, turns into part of the game that serves to highlight the values of the project. FutbolNet will expand to 20 different Catalan cities in 2012 and will foster over 4,000 participants.

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