“Hope and solidarity through ballgames”
‘It is only great beliefs that give rise to great emotions.’
Honoré de Balzac
Mrs. Marie José Lallart – Project Officer
UNESCO - Education Sector,
“Hope and Solidarity through ballgames”
Tel: 01 45 68 10 85 Fax: 01 45 68 56 26
PRESENTATION OF THE PROGRAMME
The programme Hope and Solidarity through ballgames was created in 1993 in order
to reach underprivileged children through athletic, cultural and playful activities.
This programme is part of the UNESCO Education sector, and contributes to its
fundamental goal since 1946: Education for all.
Indeed, especially since the World Education Forum in 2000 in Dakar, UNESCO
intends on making “Education for All” a reality. It is in this perspective that the programme
Hope and Solidarity through Ballgames works daily : its strategy is based on the development
of alternative modalities in order to extend and improve access to basic education for all. It
aims at supporting the development of programmes and activities that promote non-formal
education as an educational basis and as a part of the educational system in its entirety.
This original approach enabled Hope and Solidarity through Ballgames to join the
“LIFE” initiative recently. The “Literacy Initiative For Empowerment” (LIFE) is a large
UNESCO programme of action in support of the achievement of Education for All, and a key
operational mechanism to substantially increase literacy learning opportunities within the
framework of the United Nations Literacy Decade.
Finally, this programme therefore also serves the United Nations Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs), which core objective is halving global poverty. Hope and
Solidarity through Ballgames therefore promotes an education for all, without any type of
discrimination against excluded children but it mainly promotes a complete education, that is
to say based on a physical and mental development (trough sports and literacy) as well as
on a professional one (through professional workshops).
The action of Hope and Solidarity through ballgames is world-wide and concerns
mainly developing countries, particularly the ones in post-conflict situations. We believe that
“meeting basic learning needs constitutes a common and universal human responsibility”
(World Declaration on Education for All), and wish to support morally the children who
need it, as well as give them a chance to succeed in life by meeting their most elemental
socialisation and education needs.
Sports were chosen as its privileged means of action because of its various virtues:
encounter, tolerance, endurance, respect for the partner/opponent, insertion of the individual
in the group, socialisation, achievement, self-esteem and of course amusement.
Organising sport encounters between excluded children (street children or former
child soldiers for instance) or children in difficult situations (refugees, war or AIDS
orphans) is one of aspect of this programme. Another one consists in helping create self-
managed youth learning centres where children can find a long-term moral support, as
well as practice sports, learn how to read and write or learn a profession, in order to
ensure their reinsertion in society.
« Un homme n’est jamais si grand
que lorsqu’il est à genoux pour aider
un enfant… »
Olympic judo champion David Douillet in Niger 2
THE VALUE OF COLLECTIVE SPORTS FOR EXCLUDED, UNDERPRIVILEGED
CHILDREN IN DEVELOPPING COUNTRIES
Collective sports, and more specifically football, were chosen as the main means of
action of Hope and Solidarity through ballgames because they meet essential needs of
children in developing countries, or in areas affected by conflicts. Sport is very beneficial to
excluded children, and more specifically to street children as it constitutes a good way to
interact with them, but also have them interact with the rest of society. It is also very
efficient to familiarize them with certain social concepts and rules.
A vector of socialisation....
Indeed, today over 140 million children (80 million in Africa, 46 in South East Asia,
17.5 in South America) live on the streets, excluded from any kind of family frame, rules,
social structure, or scholar system. Millions of others are forced to work, or simply live in
difficult situations of exclusion (children in refugee camps or orphanages).
The 2000 World Education Forum in Dakar reminded that “all children, all teenagers must
have access to basic education. The poor, the children living on the street, and the children
who work must not suffer from any kind of discrimination in the access to education”.
The Hope and Solidarity through ballgames programme aims at achieving this goal by
offering these children access to a basic, non-formal education, adapted to their situation.
In this context, collective sports enable them to learn some basic socialisation rules such as
encounter, respect, tolerance, insertion of the individual in the group, endurance etc.; that is to
say some of the basic elements necessary to prepare the children to receiving an education.
Indeed, eventually this appropriate pedagogical approach in which sports play an important
part, can allow them to find a path towards education and thus, reintegrate society. As well
as having a recreational purpose, group activities, sports and games have very positive effects
on young children’s psychological development; it helps them build themselves, it brings
them a sense of self-esteem and simply teaches them how to smile again.
...and an instrument of peace
Hope and solidarity through ballgames has also often been a strong vector of peace.
Indeed, this community-based programme, through collective sports, can create bonds
beyond rivalries, and religious, community, political, economical or social divisions. In Africa
for instance where ethnic oppositions can be severe, our action, by engaging in ball games
children -many of whom have been bruised or traumatized by strife and poverty- can
rediscover such values as solidarity and fraternity. In Rwanda for instance, after the
genocide, the children all sang together “Amahoro” (“peace”) after the football tournaments
organized by our programme. In Sri Lanka also, sporting activities were organized for the
children of different communities, helping create a culture of tolerance, friendship, and
understanding between the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim people. We believe strongly that
sports are undeniably a very efficient vector of social reconciliation, comprehension and
tolerance, thus of peace.
Sport therefore, does not only bring
happiness to these underprivileged
children: by teaching them basic
socialization rules and by promoting
a culture of peace, it creates the
conditions necessary to the good
development of the children and to
their gentle reinstatement in society.
Eventually, it allows them to find an
appropriate path towards education. 3
STRATEGY AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROGRAMME
1) Field missions
There are approximately six annual field missions. They are carried out according to the
- Assessment of the situation: research and elaboration of a project proposal
corresponding to the needs of the children in the city/region/country concerned.
- Building cooperation with different funding sources and partners: the private sector
(in particular sportswear companies), foundations, international sports federations etc.
These cooperations generally consist in funding, donation of sports equipment or free
transportation of this equipment.
- Liaison with institutional partners : local authorities, other United Nations Agencies,
local NGOs, associations etc.
- Choice of famous athletes who have agreed to serve as UNESCO ambassadors for a
These missions consist in meeting the children directly on the field, to give them a
chance to interact with the famous ambassador, who will distribute related donated sports
equipment (footballs, t-shirts etc). During these missions playful and sports activities such
as football tournaments are organised for the children in order to create a maximum of
interaction: between children from different communities, between schooled and out-of-
school children, between girls and boys, between children from different neighbourhoods etc.
The famous sports ambassador of course participates in these activities, and they are also
always honoured by the presence of high local representatives (Ministers for Youth or
Education, Governors, Presidents of National Olympic Commissions). Therefore, they are
always great events in the countries, very often covered by the media.
The objective of these missions are various:
- the first one is of course to bring support and hope to the children, by distracting
them from their difficult life, and giving them emotions and a few moments of
happiness (with games, donations, famous athletes etc).
- But the main one is the sensitization to their cause. Indeed, excluded children and
more specifically street children are a target often neglected. They are rejected by
their own society and overlooked by the international community simply because they
are not even officially registered. By focusing the attention on them, Hope and
solidarity through ballgames gives them visibility in the eyes of the government and
the international community thanks to the media attention drawn by the presence of a
Example: Burundi mission, January 2005
Cédric Pioline, a former French tennis champion was on mission with Marie José Lallart in
Bujumbura under the patronage of the First Lady of Burundi, Mrs. Ndayizeye. This
mission aimed at bringing hope and comfort to the underprivileged children of the capital,
thanks to the organisation of a tennis tournament under the supervision of Mr.Pioline as well
as trough the distribution of sports equipment donated by sportswear company Decathlon (t-
shirts, tennis rackets and balls etc). 150 children (formerly street children now attending
school thanks to the UNESCO) participated in the tournament and a dozen of them were
even directly initiated to the sport by Cédric Pioline himself. Overall, approximately 600
children benefited from the visit of the UNESCO delegation to their centres (handicapped
children, AIDS orphans etc).
This very successful mission opened the way to a series of other projects: the First Lady and
the Minister for Youth and sports are now willing to support programmes for street children
and the Decathlon Foundation has considered participating financially in the rehabilitation of
a youth centre for street children in Bujumbura
Centre « Akamuri” for disabled children in Jabé
2) The support to youth centres for excluded and underprivileged children
The programme has evolved over the years and in addition to bringing comfort and
amusement to the children punctually, it now aims at improving durably their socio-
economic conditions. To do so, Hope and Solidarity through Ballgames also raises funds in
order to create youth learning centres, where children can find a long term support.
First financed with the help of the programme, these centres are then self-managed
and become a privileged place for the street children to come and practice sports and also to
be taught how to read and write, and to learn a profession through workshops. Thanks to these
centres, excluded children who have never attended school gain access to a non-formal
education (through sports and workshops) as well as to a basic education (once socialized
they may also become literate in these centres). Therefore they help achieve the ultimate goal
of the Hope and Solidarity through ballgames programme: the proper reinsertion of street
children in society. On a larger scale, these projects also participate in the promotion of the
dialogue between the communities and fosters understanding between them. In Africa
mainly, due to extreme poverty, children can easily be excluded. Abandoned and left to
themselves, they have to struggle to eat but also, have to suffer from rejection : in Kinshasa
for instance, the street children (or “shégués”) are now victim of a new phenomenon, they are
considered sorcerers and are made responsible for all the people’s woes…
It is the UNESCO’s duty to ensure that all children have access to a basic education,
and Hope and solidarity through ballgames is dedicated to the cause of a very marginalized
population of children. Through sports, it has found a way to attract them into centers and
offer them an appropriate pedagogical approach. Through its field missions, it has found a
way to raise awareness in the international community in order to help these children.
The implementation of this two-folded programme is entirely due on the one hand to
the kind cooperation of famous sportsmen (David Ginola, Bernard Lama, Paolo Cesar,
Youri Djorkaëff, Georges Weah, Marie-José Pérec, David Douillet, Abdelatif Benazzi, Marie
Pearce, Cédric Pioline....) and on the other hand to the generosity of many sponsors (Adidas,
Decathlon, Converse, Lacoste, Monoprix, Perrier, Renault, Shell, Volvic, Umbro...).
Indeed, the Hope and Solidarity through Ballgames programme is totally extra-budgetary
and therefore depends essentially on donations
and funding by sponsors and partners.
World rugby champion Abdelatif Benazzi in Oujda, Morocco
Example of a learning centre in Kankan, Guinea Conakry.
After a field mission in this city of Guinea, Hope and Solidarity through ballgames
has decided to support the association “Kosimankan” in its work with the children of the
Baada neighbourhood. Indeed, these children have left their villages and families who could
not feed them anymore, and come to the city, in order to work and support themselves as well
as their family. Aged from 8 to 16, these 20 children work very hard everyday by pushing
extremely heavy charges of goods for merchants, in exchange of a ridiculously small amount
At night they sleep in the street where they are often mugged and dispossessed of the
little money they have. Marie José Lallart has spoken to each one of them and they all have
dreams, one of them being attending school to learn how to read and write. They also want to
learn a profession so they can durably improve the condition of their poor families.
A deserted house has been spotted in Baada, and negotiations are underway to obtain
the authorization to rehabilitate it. The owners of surrounding workshops (mechanics,
carpentry etc.) have also been contacted and have accepted to welcome on a regular basis a
few children to teach them how to use the machines. Finally, students in the field of education
and teaching have volunteered to come and give the working street children of Baada a basic
education. The programme Hope and Solidarity through ballgames is helping this initiative
by donating sports equipment to the centre and by helping find funds to finance the project
(estimated at USD 50 000). The programme, in the name of the UNESCO has also played an
important part in convincing the local actors to support their action.
‘To act is to engage in
Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria,
Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Cuba, Ethiopia, Georgia, Haiti, Lithuania,
Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Poland, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and many
others... In all and over the past 12 years, more than 60 countries have benefited once or
several times from donations of sport equipment or from genuine field operations. Tons of
equipment worth over 5 million dollars have been sent all around the world, giving
approximately 24 000 children a year the chance to learn how to smile again.
Beneficiary countries in 2004 Current beneficiary countries
Democratic republic of Congo Burkina Faso
French Guyana Democratic republic of Congo
Some of the countries mentioned above benefited from field missions with famous
ambassadors, distributions of sports equipment, media attention etc...others benefited from
help for building learning centres.
Other different and original initiatives undertaken deserve to be detailed as well:
Hope and solidarity through ballgames has often obtained results with unusual
bargains: indeed, the programme is regularly given important equipment by sponsors.
These donations (usually footballs and other sportswear) are distributed to
underprivileged children during field missions, but can also be used to negotiate with
local actors. For example in Burkina Faso, brand-new Adidas-Salomon sports
equipment was given to schools last April in the province of Gaoua, in exchange of
the promise that they would welcome and educate gratuitously street children or
other out-of-school children.
Another interesting deal is also being made in Mali: the famous company Texas
Instrument donated many very valuable calculators to the Hope and solidarity through
ballgames programme. Marie José Lallart gave 85 of them (each valued to USD 150)
to a local NGO who is now negotiating with institutions interested in those scientific
calculators. Therefore, in the following months, the National Centre of Agronomy, the
Institute for transfer of technologies, or the National School of Engineering might, in
exchange of the donation of the calculators, help build schools in the Province of
Yorosso, especially one in the village of Barena Bougou, where approximately 50
children cannot attend school because the closest one is 10 kilometres away.
Hope and solidarity through ballgames also aims at supporting original initiatives for
excluded children such as the one developed in Kinshasa (D.R. of Congo) by the
Congolese association Vijana ya Congo, which consists in helping keeping the streets
of the city clean. The UNESCO programme has offered to associate the street children
of the capital to the process, in exchange of sporting goods for instance. By doing so,
the street children (“shégués”) very rejected in Kinshasa can find a way to contribute
to the well-being of the population by picking up the trash, which therefore contributes
to the change of mentalities in their favour and to their reinsertion in society.
‘In life, there are no solutions. There are forces at work: we must create them,
and the solutions will follow.’
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“The success of this initiative is helping to promote reflection on the place of sport in a
society scarred by 17 years of war: every effort to strengthen athletic activities encourages
young people to understand and respect discipline and peaceful competition”.
Permanent Delegate of Lebanon to UNESCO,
in a letter addressed to Federico Mayor, Director-General of UNESCO
“The children will sleep with their shoes on tonight”.
Father Jean Dedieu,
head of the Saint Joseph Ouvrier parish in Conakry,
“This gift will encourage the young people of our country to participate in sports activities. I
therefore wish to inform you of the great hopes we place in this programme.”
Secretary-General of the Guinean National Commission
“Perhaps I got involved in this project just because I love making young people happy!”
Marie-Jose Pérec, triple olympic champion
“We had so many requests for our soccer balls during the trip that we had to hide them in jute
bags. Tomorrow we are going to hand them out to children in a school far out in the bush in
the south of Madagascar. Having seen the makeshift balls the children play with here, I have
to say that your ‘Hope and solidarity through ball games’ scheme deserves to be publicized
and made part of the Convention on the Rights of the Child - if that hasn’t been done already”
Member of the NGO Aide et Action
“Through sport, we all become equal”
Sylla Dada, a young African child.
For further information Make a contribution!
Mrs. Marie José Lallart – Project Officer Please write checks to
UNESCO – Education sector « UNESCO, enfance en difficulté,
“Hope and Solidarity through ballgames” projet ESB »
Tel: 01 45 68 10 85 Fax: 01 45 68 56 26 Marie José Lallart, 7 place de Fontenoy
firstname.lastname@example.org 75352 Paris 07-SP