Learn About

Development Through Soccer

Soccer enables countries and individuals to develop on a large scale.

"Sport Has the Power to Change the World"
-Nelson Mandela

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Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, is pictured holding the World Cup trophy in 2010, when South Africa hosted the tournament.

(AP Photo/Michael Probst, File) (The Associated Press)

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Pictured above is an Afghanistan women's soccer team celebrating after winning a trophy. The Taliban suppresses women's rights, so seeing a picture like this shows women they are more than what their society thinks of them.

Rahmatullah Alizadah/Xinhua via Getty Images

Country Development

  • ​Women and Girls Empowerment

    • Soccer treats men and women equally at a young age, both genders play together and can have fun learning the same sport. Not only does this promote equality, but also empowers women to become leaders, and break normalized gender roles in communities.

    • In addition, seeing famous female athletes like Alex Morgan or Megan Rapinoe on TV inspires young girls to pursue soccer.

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  • Global Health

    • Healthcare systems in developing countries are often underfunded, and not fully equipped to handle certain medical issues, like heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in developing countries, however, it is preventable. Through regular exercise, particularly soccer, which helps the cardiovascular system, heart disease may be avoided.​

  • Violence and Crime

    • According to the World Bank Group, in South Africa, after the implementation of the "sport for development" program, many schools noted a significant decrease in violence, up to an 80% drop in violent incidents.

Individual Development

  • Understanding Others and Social Skills

    • Teamwork

      • In learning how to work as a team, children are able to develop a valuable social skill, that proves important throughout life. ​

    • Leadership

      • Leadership is paramount in several aspects of life. Another valuable social skill, leadership helps kids advocate for themselves, and can help in job settings.​

    • Friendship

      • Sports help kids form bonds with teammates and provide peers and people to talk to if they encounter a tough situation.​

    • Unity

      • Sports, but specifically soccer, bring people together in ways only it can. People are unified when cheering on or playing for a sports team, no matter your economic class, race, or gender, everyone is a fan.​​

  • Outlet for Fun

    • In war-torn areas, like Syria and Afghanistan, facing reality can be tough for displaced children. Through the sport of soccer, they are able to escape to think about something else, and not have to deal with the rough situation they are in at that moment.​

  • Physical Health​

    • By playing soccer, one stays physically active. Soccer in particular strengthens bones and muscles, improves cardiovascular health, and can improve flexibility. This goes a long way in preventing things such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

  • Social-Emotional

    • Exercise decreases depression, anxiety, and a negative outlook on life through empowerment and self-esteem building. Soccer also offers kids the opportunity to have a community to talk to, and friends to spend time with.

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Pictured above is a young Syrian refugee that is stranded at a refugee camp. By playing soccer, he is able to escape the rough reality he is in, and shift his focus to something more enjoyable.

UNICEF/NYHQ2013-1387/Noorani