Christian Aid: Football – A beautiful Game?

Christian Aid: Football – A beautiful Game?

Introduction

Play different versions of football – football-rounders (no bat needed, just kick!), football on spacehoppers, or table football. Come up with your own variation of the game to introduce the theme.

Discussion

Why is football so popular? And why are some teams in the world better than others? Is it because they have access to better facilities, or more money to buy players? Or are their players just more naturally gifted?

With so many playing around the world, professionally or just for fun with their friends, football is more than just a game – it is a massive international industry. But who benefits most from the football industry? Do you think that anyone suffers because of it?

Kick Off

Make two cards for each job and each weekly wage on the list below. Split your group into two teams with a set of cards for each – make sure the cards are mixed up. Get the groups to match each job with the correct weekly wage.

UK PE teacher £460

UK minister of culture, media and sport £2,600

Indian football stitcher £1.25

Thai sports clothing stitcher £5 – £10

A footballer in the Kenyan Premiership £30

A footballer in the English Premiership £5,000 – £100,000

Average wage in India £31.50

Average wage in Kenya £11.30

Average wage in Thailand £82.90

Average wage in the UK £296.40

* Wages are average amounts, before tax or in a range depending on the market rate or hours worked

Interesting facts

• Thai sports clothing stitchers can earn more for overtime or more complex garments – up to £30 – £50 per week.
• Footballers in the Kenyan Premiership get a bonus of £12 when they win.
• English Premiership players can earn up to £6 million a year through bonuses and sponsorship deals.

Child Labour

Read the following summary report aloud, or photocopy it for small groups.

Did you know that stitched footballs are normally made by hand rather than by machine? In countries like India and Pakistan children as young as five have jobs stitching footballs by hand – and it is a hazardous job. Many child stitchers suffer from poor eyesight, chronic back and neck pain, and sometimes deformed fingers. They often don’t get proper treatment for these conditions, leaving them affected for life.

Wages are incredibly low and many children never get the chance to go to school. Some children stitch part-time and then go to school in the afternoons, but their work leaves them too tired to concentrate on their studies. However, many families could not survive without the income these children bring into the home.

The use of child labour in the sporting goods industry has attracted lots of bad publicity. The World Federation of the Sports Goods Industry has been trying to end harmful child labour and improve working conditions for children and adults. However local organisations feel that more needs to be done to ensure that these programmes are more effective in protecting child stitchers.

From Global March Against Child Labour 2000

  • Discuss is child labour ever acceptable? Why or why not?

Player Profiles

Photocopy or read aloud the following player profiles.

Name: Alimamy
Position: striker
Country: Sierra Leone

My name is Alimamy Kamara and I’m 13 years old. I was a child soldier fighting with the RUF rebels during Sierra Leone’s civil war – I was abducted to fight when I was just 11. I was afraid for my life. I finally escaped by hiding in the back of a truck.

My life is different now since coming to the Makeni Project. The project is for children like me who were once child soldiers. I love playing football – it’s so much fun. It’s a great healer because it brings together children who once fought against each other. It unites us in friendship and team spirit. My dream is to have perfect peace. Never let this war repeat itself.

Name: Guelor
Position: Left-back
Country: Democratic Republic of Congo

My name is Guelor Tama. I have lived on the streets of Kinshasa for most of my life. I left home because I was being mistreated. I slept on the streets and had to beg to survive. Now, thanks to Humanité Nouvelle, my life is changed.

This project helps me to look after myself and is helping me to become somebody.  I love playing football and I want to be a famous footballer. I’m studying to be an electrician because if I can’t become a famous footballer I’d like to be an electrician. Football is just the best sport for us and the Congolese are really good at it. I like it because I feel relaxed when I’m playing. I play every day with my friends. My hero is Ronaldo.

Name: Erykah
Position: Midfielder
Country: Eritrea

My name is Erykah. I play football for Praxis Panthers women’s team in London. When I arrived in this country two years ago from Eritrea, I was very lonely. I was a stranger and didn’t feel welcome. Since I heard about the football team they have become like my new family. We all come from different backgrounds and different countries around the world. We are different but we are all equal and we try to understand what each other has been through.

Activities

  • In pairs, have your group act out a post-match interview – one takes the role of one of the players above, and one the interviewer. Make sure they take time to think up the questions and to get into role. Alternatively, they could take on the role of a football commentator, describing each player in turn.
  • Have your groups compare the different experiences of the players. In what ways has football helped them to overcome their difficulties? What benefits can you get from playing team sports?

Fair-Trade Footballs

You’ve heard of fair-trade chocolate. But did you know you could get fair-trade footballs too? They are made by a company in Pakistan who employ only adults (not children), and offer a fair wage and good working conditions.

The company also provides a healthcare clinic and schooling for workers’ children.

Print off pictures of the new football from www.fairdealtrading.com, or show the group online.

  • Discuss the arguments for and against fair-trade footballs. Think about the effect on the workers who make them, the cost for teams in the UK, and the standard of the footballs they make.
  • Get the group to write to the manager of a football team – it could be your local club, your school team or the professional side you support – telling them about these fairly traded footballs, and requesting that they use them.
  • As an alternative, mock up a magazine advert promoting the new fair-trade footballs. Or get the group to act out a TV commercial.

Useful websites

Global March Against child Labour – www.globalmarch.org/campaigns/worldcupcampaign/updates.php

Labour Behind the Label – www.labourbehindthelabel.org

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