After five decades of civil war
After five decades of intermittent civil war, most children and youth in South Sudan have lived their whole life in a fragile, conflict-ridden environment characterised by violence, abuse, fear, displacement, poverty and interrupted schooling. The country suffers from a staggering 72% school-dropout rate among children under 15, a 70 % illiteracy rate among the population above 15, and an 80% extreme poverty rate. Consequently, the majority of the population depends on humanitarian assistance, especially people living rural areas, where opportunities to create a sustainable livelihood are even scarcer than in cities.
With this tragic situation as a backdrop, Cross Cultures introduced the Open Fun Football School program in South Sudan in 2018 with a goal to promote peace, change violent behavior among children and youth, and build their capacity to do good for their communities through grassroots football.
Currently, Cross Cultures is implementing a resilience programme in four states across the country that works to empower young unemployed women and men through our Youth Leadership Education as well as increase child protection. The young partipants are trained in how to organise grassroots football and various life-skills afterschool activities for vulnerable children with the primary goal of helping out-of-school children off the street and back to the classroom. Throughout the leadership education, the participants learn important transversal skills such as planning, communication, networking etc. and are subsequently, offered either vocational training or apprenticeships in local businesses.
As part of this job training component, Cross Cultures recently launched a tailoring initiative, where the participants produce t-shirts for the Open Fun Football Schools. So far, the programme has been highly successful with tens of thousands of children engaged in football and other after-school activities every month, hundreds of youth volunteers as well as strong local partnerships within both civil society and government.
Finally, Cross Cultures collaborates with the Dutch Football Association, KNVB, on the ‘More Football’ initiative, where a selection of young men and women receive additional training in football coaching.