Article by Jordi Cardoner in the UN Chronicle
“There is no cause which merits a higher priority than the protection and development of children, on whom the survival, stability and advancement of all nations—and, indeed, of human civilization—depends.”
World Summit for Children, UNICEF, 30 September 1990
FC Barcelona Foundatioin: sport in service of social development
The United Nations acknowledges sport as an effective means of promoting health, development and peace, and fostering social inclusion and equality. It constitutes a unique tool of tolerance and empowerment for children and people with disabilities. These ideas are reiterated in the new2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which highlights the essential role of sport in social progress. Sport breaks through the barriers that divide people and communities and can be used to help prevent conflicts and build peace. The FC (Futbol Club) Barcelona Foundation, established in 1994, promotes understanding between young people in school and in social settings, helping to reduce tensions and generate dialogue while encouraging the growth of self-confidence as well as trust in others. Our objective is to provide young people with the tools to become free individuals with values living in solidarity with others.
Since 2006, FC Barcelona, or Barça, has donated 0.7 per cent of its budget to the FC Barcelona Foundation, committing to the creation and development of a variety of solidary projects, with the objective of putting positive values into practice. Since 2010, the players and coaches of the professional sport sections of the club have contributed 0.5 per cent of their income to financing and boosting initiatives in Catalonia, Spain, and in other places where help is needed.
Not only do we prepare to be the best on the pitch, but we also strive to change the future of children. We consider sport to be a powerful vehicle for social inclusion, gender equality and youth empowerment, the benefits of which can be recognized far beyond sports stadiums.
FC Barcelona is followed by millions of fans around the world. The Club is not only considered a successful team but also a motivational instrument that generates hope and can be used as a catalyst for instilling values that help transform society and promote peace and understanding. Football has become a mass spectacle, with few stars and millions of fans. The FC Barcelona Foundation is aware of the sport’s influence, which is why we are committed to promoting football as more than just a game. Its capacity to encourage integration and to transmit such noble values as respect for the opponent was perfectly summarized by the twentieth century writer Albert Camus, author of The Plague and The Stranger: “Everything I know about morality and the obligations of men I owe it to football”. The Nobel Prize winner had been a promising goalkeeper in his native Algeria, but tuberculosis cut his football career short at the age of 17.
FC Barcelona Foundation Projects Benefit 490,000 Children
The Foundation is one of the most esteemed social entities in the world. It defends values and promotes respect and equality for people everywhere. Barça represents these ideals and shared principles, which are increasingly necessary in the construction of a fairer society.
Football is the most egalitarian sport. It recognizes no frontiers, classes or backgrounds. FC Barcelona is aware of the hope that football generates in thousands of children and how its own players have become role models. The Club regards this as a huge responsibility, one that drives us to channel and broaden our corporate social goals. Our objective is not just to win trophies but also to influence and actively participate in structural changes, and to help young people prepare themselves for what really matters in life.
The Foundation contributes to improving society by transmitting values. We know that passion can lead to motivation. We seek to instil principles such as discipline and self-confidence, which are so important on the football pitch, in the everyday lives of children who are at risk of social exclusion. Respect for others, personal effort, teamwork and humility are increasingly necessary for success. The example of one person’s behaviour or the philosophy of a team like FC Barcelona can become crucial elements in building a more humane society.
Foundation projects are based on the use of sport as a key development instrument and the promotion of education through the positive values embodied in sport. Currently, more than 490,000 people around the world benefit from these initiatives.
Barçakids and Futbolnet Bring Team Values to Disadvantaged Children
The Foundation has promoted two initiatives that have become our signature programmes. They are aimed at reducing truancy and violence, and promoting the integration of children living in disadvantaged situations. BarçaKids is taught in 41 schools in Catalonia and has 7,500 beneficiaries. FutbolNet has 10,700 participants in Catalonia and another 108,000 in 51 countries around the world.
BarçaKids is geared to children at the primary-school level, between 6 and 12 years of age. Its purpose is to promote and consolidate a system of values through sport’s main pedagogical principles. The project was first implemented during the 2012–2013 academic year in schools around Catalonia. It is structured in didactic units focused on respect, effort, humility, teamwork and ambition. Over the course of three days, approximately 150 children in each school have the chance to participate in this learning experience through dynamic and innovative games, in which the club’s players also take part. The programme is based on oral and written expression and sporting practice, promoting good behaviours, habits and knowledge that will help participants develop both individually and collectively. The project is complemented by a virtual section in which the entire Internet community is encouraged to join.
FutbolNet is an educational methodology directed at children between 8 and 16 years of age who are at risk of social exclusion. It uses football as a tool to transmit values, turning the game into a platform for dialogue in their surroundings. The programme promotes self-respect and respect for others, empathy, solidarity, civility, emotional control, motivation, autonomy and responsibility. It is implemented in Catalonia and internationally within a partnership framework that includes such entities as the Inter-American Development Bank, Shell Oil Company and the International Olympic Committee.
Foundation projects use sport as a social-intervention tool. Our objective is not to teach how to win. Life is a challenge in itself and some of those challenges help us grow. The Foundation contributes to the personal development of children and young people in its most human dimension. Our projects are adapted to the social priorities of each environment. They have resulted in the prevention of some illnesses, the resolution of conflicts between gangs, decreasing aggressive behaviour, the transmission of healthy habits, reduction of academic failure and improved social inclusion of people with disabilities, among other important achievements.
September 2016 marks the tenth anniversary of the signing of the first agreement between Barça and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The organizations have joined forces to benefit more than one million children through projects implemented in seven countries. From 2006 to 2010, they worked in Angola, Malawi and Swaziland on raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and on preventing and detecting the virus. Since 2011, their work has focused on using sport as an educational tool in China, Brazil, Ghana and South Africa. In China, Barça and UNICEF have managed to reach more than 230,000 children in 392 rural schools. In Brazil, Barça supports UNICEF programmes that have benefited more than 57,000 children and 37,000 young people, 4,000 of whom live with disabilities. In Ghana, the project has helped over 263,000 children in more than 1,350 schools. In South Africa, both entities work to provide life opportunities for children and teenagers.
The agreement between Barça and UNICEF revolutionized the world of sponsorship. Both partners remain united in their commitment to advocate for the rights of the world’s children and to guarantee children equality, education and, consequently, a future.
Children’s rights are set out in the 54 articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989.The Convention recognizes that boys and girls are individuals with a right to full physical, mental and social development, and to freely express their opinions. Children, therefore, deserve maximum priority in the policies of all countries. We must guarantee their well-being because the future of mankind depends on them.
At the FC Barcelona Foundation, we recognize participation in sport and games as a right of all children. The difference between what is possible and what is impossible lies in determination. As an institution, not only do we prepare to be the best on the pitch but also to consolidate our solidary projects, thus contributing to changing the future of more than a million boys and girls who have benefited from the Foundation in the last 10 years.
Jordi Cardoner i Casaus
First vicepresident FC Barcelona