Gambia set to benefit from Barcelona

The Gambia is set to benefit from FC Barcelona Foundation’s FutbolNet project following a pact between the Spanish club and the International Olympic Committee [IOC] to help develop African football.

The project which is targeted for children between the ages of 12 and 15 will see Gambia taking part in the Olympafrica FutbolNet Cup group of tournaments that shaped around the Barca Foundation’s FutbolNet which aims to instill and encourage positive values through football.

This is the first ever agreement between the IOC and a sports club’s foundation and the agreement will lead to the creation of the ‘Olympafrica FutbolNet Cup’, a series of tournaments for youngsters which will be held in over 23 African countries including Gambia.

Other countries benefiting from the project include Ivory Coast, Lesotho, Eritrea, Seychelles, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Guinea Bissau, Swaziland, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Mauritius, Senegal, Niger, Cameroon, Tanzania, Chad, Mali, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Barcelona and the IOC met in Switzerland last Wednesday to sign the agreement that would see the tournaments hosted by IOC’s Oympafrica International Foundation beginning this year.

Speaking to the club’s official website, FC Barcelona President Sandro Rosell thanked the International Olympic Committee and its president, Jacques Rogge, for ‘the confidence shown in the FC Barcelona Foundation to carry out this project. It’s a great honour for our Club to be able to contribute and encourage the values of sport.’

Rogge stated that the alliance with the FC Barcelona Foundation will ‘give many children of many African countries, and their communities, the chance to practice sport in order to strengthen and improve human development. I would like to thank the FC Barcelona Foundation for their support and for their willingness to share their valuable experience in this regard.’

Confirming the development, a source close to the Gambia Olympafrica center said: ‘Yes, it is true that Gambia is part of project. But we cannot disclose more on this now until we attend the workshop [in May].’

These tournaments will be hosted at Oympafrica International Foundation’s 26 centers, which span 23 countries, and will kick off in 2013. The organisation, which was founded by the IOC, works to spread the Olympic spirit throughout the continent and encourage social development through sport.

Each ‘Olympafrica FutbolNet Cup’ tournament will host approximately 3,000 children, which means that the overall project will reach approximately 78,000 children.

During the month of May there will be two workshops, one in Barcelona and another in Burundi, where ‘Olympafrica FutbolNet Cup’ organisers will learn the methodology employed by FutbolNet. Additional workshops are scheduled to take place in June with Gambia being seriously considered to host one.

FutbolNet’s methodology
The methodology of FC Barcelona Foundation’s FutbolNet aims to educate children through positive values derived from playing football.

The football employed in FutbolNet has some very special rules, as the goal is not to win but to learn the following concepts: commitment, respect, tolerance, team work, responsibility and effort. For example, there is no referee, but a ‘teamer’, a moderator whose purpose is to guide the game. Also, the winning team isn’t the one with the most goals; rather, the winners are the ones who best applied the values of the sport to the game.

FutbolNet sessions are divided up into three distinct sections: a discussion before the match where participants decide on the rules and which concept should be worked; a football match, and then a post-match discussion where the behaviour of the participants is evaluated. It’s important to note that the dialogue becomes part of the game and not a supplement to it.

The Foundation has applied this project to over 20 locations in Catalonia and in Brazil, Oman, Qatar and Iraq.

Modou Lamin Belai