ILO-IPEC Football resource kit on using football in child labour elimination and prevention projects

This resource kit seeks to underline how football can be used as a recreational activity in child labour elimination and prevention projects and seeks to promote the participation of girls in football.

News | 26 June 2014
Football is the most popular sport in the world and will be at the forefront of the campaign to introduce recreational activities into child labour projects. More sports can follow so that we can further broaden the range of activities that are offered to children in or at-risk of child labour and help them experience the joy of play and sporting achievement.

Child labour is a complex issue. Most often, it has its roots in poverty, but also in cultural and social practices and attitudes. It has a broad range of contributing factors, making it difficult to overcome now and prevent in the future. As well as delivering a wide range of essential services to protect and assist affected and at-risk children and their families, it is also important that these children be able to recover their childhoods and that they, their siblings and their peers have the opportunity to enjoy healthy recreational and sporting activities.

Many ILO-IPEC projects around the world have ensured that working and at-risk children have access to some form of leisure activity through which they can interact with their friends and other children in their communities. An ongoing objective of ILO-IPEC has been to identify ways for children involved in its projects to channel their energy and enthusiasm positively and constructively. The opportunity to develop this approach further presented itself through ILO-IPEC’s close collaboration with FIFA in Sialkot, Pakistan, under the framework of the ILO-IPEC pilot project undertaken from 2007 to 2008 in Sialkot, Pakistan, in the hand-stitched football manufacturing industry. FIFA embraced the idea of introducing football to the lives of children involved in football production and to their peers in the community and gave its full support, including technical expertise through the Pakistan Football Federation.

The modules of the “Football resource kit: Using football in child labour elimination and prevention projects” are based on the practical experiences of this project. Football was not widely known and played at that time in that area and the locations were mixed rural and semi-rural and characterized by poverty. There were no football pitches in the targeted communities and no football teams, and the issue of girls playing football was particularly sensitive. Therefore, the project was carried out in the most challenging of circumstances and environments. Nevertheless, its outcomes were extremely positive, including the establishment of girls’ football teams and competitions as well as of a women’s district football association.

An important additional aim of the ILO-IPEC Sialkot project approach, which links into the Football for Hope movement, is to promote equal opportunity in society by ensuring that girls participate fully in football activities at all levels and benefit from the same opportunities as boys. ILO-IPEC also promotes the principles of equality through its child labour programmes.

The same principles must be applied in football projects as it is vital that every effort is made to involve women and girls. In some cultural, religious and traditional environments, there are limitations on what girls might or might not be allowed to do, their freedoms and access to their basic rights, including education. While it is always important to acknowledge and respect other cultures, traditions and religions, it is equally important to acknowledge that society develops and evolves through constant and consistent challenge.

The “Football Resource Kit” aims to provide guidance, support and know-how for implementing agencies and committed groups and individuals around the world to put together a comprehensive plan of action through which all stakeholders, particularly local and national football clubs and associations, join forces to help children in or at-risk of child labour through recreational play and organized sport, and give to them a chance to enjoy their childhoods and benefit from healthy, fun and fulfilling activities, to acquire life skills and grow in confidence and self-esteem. It identifies volunteerism and child participation as being central to this strategic approach and highlights the positive impact these can have on community development.

The first edition of the “Football resource kit: Using football in child labour elimination and prevention projects” was launched in 2010 around the World Cup in South Africa. In the context of the 2014 Red Card to Child Labour Campaign and the World Cup in Brazil, IPEC is re-launching the 2013 edition of the Football resource kit.

French and Spanish versions will follow shortly.