Spirit of Soccer works in Iraq, Cambodia, Laos and Moldova, using soccer to educate children about the dangers of landmines.
“To use the power of soccer to help save the lives of children living at daily risk from landmines and explosive remnants of war in some of the most dangerous places in the world.”
Spirit of Soccer currently has active programs in four countries – Cambodia, Iraq, Laos and Moldova.
* Cambodia (since 2005)
- Because of the Vietnam War and the reign of terror that was the Khmer Rouge, there are an estimated six million landmines littering Cambodia’s border with Thailand. As a result, Cambodia suffers from one of the highest physical disability rates in the world, with many victims plunged into economic hardship from their injuries.
- Spirit of Soccer provides Mine Risk Education in the infamous K5 minebelt where an estimated three million landmines were laid by 100,000 forced labourers, many of whom died of exhaustion. Since then, child casualties in these regions have decreased by 50% according to the Cambodian Mine Victim Information Service.
- Over 46,000 children from over 238 schools have received Mine Risk Education from Spirit of Soccer.
- In 2010, Spirit of Soccer implemented a Sports Diplomacy / Law Enforcement program in Cambodia, training local police in soccer coaching, Mine Risk Education and Drug Risk Education. This program has been expanded into three provinces and Spirit of Soccer currently employs 18 local police officers to work on the program, which has reached 12,000 children to date.
* Iraq (since 2009)
- Spirit of Soccer began operating in Iraq in the spring of 2009 and has delivered programs in Baghdad, Basra and Kirkuk to over 22,000 children.
- Spirit of Soccer trained 18 local Iraqi coaches to deliver the Mine Risk Education program, including three women, from a variety of different ethnic and religious groups including Arab, Kurd, Sunni, Shia and Christian.
- In 2010, Spirit of Soccer organized the region’s first Mine Risk Education Festival in Amman, Jordan in partnership with FIFA, who helped bring together young players and coaches from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and the West Bank.
* Laos (since 2010)
- In 2010, Spirit of Soccer was asked to replicate its Cambodian Mine Risk Education program in Laos, which has the unfortunate distinction of being the most heavily bombed nation in the world. During the Vietnam War, five million tons of bombs (most of which were anti-cluster bombs which contained hundreds of individual ‘bomblets’ the size of tennis balls) was dropped into Laos. An estimated 30% of these bombs did not detonate, and today 10 of the 18 Laotian provinces have been classified as ‘severely contaminated’ with these cluster munitions and unexploded bombs. It’s estimated that there are some 288 million cluster munitions and about 75 million unexploded bombs left in Laos.
- Spirit of Soccer is currently only operating in Xieng Khouang province but is looking to expand to more places in Laos.
* Moldova (since 2009)
- In Moldova, Spirit of Soccer adapted their curriculum to deliver coaching clinics focusing on conflict resolution and youth development.
- Spirit of Soccer trained and graduated 50 local coaches at UEFA C-license standard, including 20 police officers both male and female, to work with children promoting ethnic tolerance under our program slogan ‘Together We Are One Team’. Since 2009 over 2,000 children have taken part in this program which is held annually through Soccer Peace camps.
How to get involved:
Become a Sponsor or Partner: Please contact Scott Lee for further information on how you can be more involved in Spirit of Soccer.
Donate to Spirit of Soccer:
* Make an online donation here.
* Where your donation goes:
- $10 pays for clean drinking water for 150 children
- $25 pays for a ball, uniform and soccer cleats for one child
- $50 pays for school notebooks for an entire school
- $100 pays for one MRE soccer session for 50 children
* Website: http://spiritofsoccer.net