Cross Culture's latest initiative is in South Sudan.
After 49 years of intermittent civil war and local conflicts, the situation in South Sudan today is so fragile, fragmented and uncertain that most children and youth only know about life in a conflict-filled environment characterized by violence, abuse, mistrust, fear, hate, and war leading to displacement, poverty and interrupted schooling.
South Sudan today is suffering greatly from a staggering 72% school dropout rate for children under 15 years of age, 70 % illiteracy of the population above the age of 15, and 80% of the population living in extreme poverty, i.e. on less than US$ 1 per day. Consequently, the majority of the population are depending from humanitarian assistance and many children in South Sudan are often traumatized from the effects of war, displacement and a lack of both schooling and opportunities to take part in safe, fun activities.
In addition, many young people have lost their faith in the State. They do not know who and what can help them to achieve a better life. Therefore, many dreams of a life outside South Sudan in peace and prosperity, while others join forces with local warlords and “marauding” youth gangs.
In other words, in South Sudan, young, unemployed men are often considered “a ticking bomb”. Especially youth from the rural districts who have dropped out of school at an early age and thus hold only limited chances to compete for the few jobs available by the International NGO’s and in the public administration. In order for them to have a chance at becoming self-sustainable in life they must be provided with the necessary soft skills that can help them to enhance their livelihood, such as for example the skills obtained through the Cross Cultures Future Sport Leadership Education, and vocational training in entrepreneurship and small business management as well as access to small start-up-grants.
With this deeply tragic situation as a backdrop, Cross Cultures introduced the Open Fun Football School program in South Sudan in 2018 (funded by UEFA foundation for children) with the overall goal (a) promote peace by bringing people together, (b) change violent behavior among children and youth, (c) do good for their communities, and (d) learn how to organize grassroots football.
Although the Open Fun Football School programme is still in a pilot phase, the immediate results of the program are compelling. Thus, the programme is engaging significantly more young voluntary leaders, coaches and children than planned for (approx. 7000 against 1600) and this number is still increasing day-by-day. In this way, the initial results confirm a very strong buy-in from both children and young people and the programme has potential to become an important platform in the local communities where children and young people can be allowed to play and be children again.
A very important reason for these impressive results is, among other things, the below vision that 184 young leaders and coaches jointly developed at Cross Culture's seminars in Juba and Torit in May 2019. Thus, this vision has, among other things, provided a common and meaningful direction for our joint activities. And should the program continue to maintain momentum, Cross Cultures believes that the program can prove to be so innovative, relevant and effective that it also has the potential to be an effective social tool in other refugee-related situations in the region - for example in Sudan, DRC, Uganda, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Kenya, etc.
- Cross Cultures mobilises a cohort of young people and educates them to organize Open Fun Football Schools (OFFS) and other community-based CAS activities, on a voluntary basis, for children and youth in their local communities.
- The trained Open Fun Football School leaders and coaches organise regular Fun Football and other CAS activities for children and youth in their local communities.
- At least 30% of the children are either orphans or children from poor families who are not enrolled in school. Cross Cultures organizes after-school and other life skills training for these children.
- The majority of the young volunteer coaches are unemployed. In partnership with Niras, Cross Cultures offers leadership skills development and tailor-made vocational training to improve their employability.
- Young coaches who want to further improve their football coaching skills are offered a seminar through the KNVB’s (the Royal Dutch Football Association) World Coaches programme, also aiming to improve their employability.
Find more details about the project here.