At the time when Sepp Blatter was on his way out from the position of Secretary General at FIFA, I suggested that these six people had what it takes to replace him.
1. Jürgen Griesbeck, streetfootballworld
When his friend, Colombian soccer international Andrés Escobar, was murdered after scoring an own-goal in the 1994 World Cup Finals, Sports Lecturer Jürgen Griesbeck devised “Football for Peace” for street gangs in Medellín. Rules Griesbeck devised included having mixed teams, a rule where a girl has to score the first goal, awarding points for fair play as well as a win or draw, and having the team captains resolve on-field disputes rather than a referee. He returned to Germany in 2001 and founded “streetfootballworld”, a networking and advisory organization for football and development, based in Berlin.
2. Steve and Pete Fleming, Kick4life (Maseru, Lesotho)
The brothers from Southampton set up Kick4Life in 2005, to use football to promote health education and awareness in Lesotho, after dribbling a football 250 miles across Malawi. The Lesotho Football for Hope Centre – opened in 2011 by ex-Leeds Utd star Lucas Radebe – has classrooms, office space and health testing facilities, vegetable garden, library, a 5-a-side artificial pitch, and an 11-a-side grass pitch. A restaurant and hotel/conference centre provide training and employment for young people and income for the programme. Kick4Life organises football tours for overseas visitors to play against local teams.
3. Rachel Muthoga, Moving the Goalposts (Kilifi, Kenya)
Executive Director of Moving the Goalposts Rachel Muthoga describes herself as a “womens’ rights activist, lawyer, sports for development believer.” MTG uses football to help more than 4000 girls aged nine to 25 from rural communities develop confidence, leadership and self esteem. It educates them on sexual health and economic empowerment. She said: “Sport is a big unifying factor and one sport that easily brings people together is football. We thought if we could get these girls playing football, then we can have their attention and talk to them about all these ills that were hampering their growth as girls.”
4. Mel Young, Homeless World Cup
In 2001, Mel Young, co-founder of Scotland’s Big Issue, was at a conference in Cape Town, when the idea of using football to bring homeless people together came up in a conversation with another streetpaper editor. Within two years the pair set up the first Homeless World Cup in Graz, Austria. Since then, the tournament has visited four continents and 12 cities. Around 500 players take part each time and an estimated 77% go on to change their lives. 168,000 people watched the tournament in Mexico City in 2012. The 14th Homeless World Cup takes place in Amsterdam in September.
5. Anne Bunde-Birouste, Football United (Australia)
American Anne Bunde-Birouste witnessed the power of football firsthand when she saw France hoist the World Cup in Paris in 1998. While working in the Solomon Islands, she connected the memory of the open-topped bus in the Champs-Élysées with local kids playing football barefoot. She founded the Football United programme through the University of New South Wales to use football to help refugee children integrate into Australian society. Football United runs weekly football and futsal programmes, holiday camps, leadership training and gala days.