The most frequent question I get from journalists and other soccer blog writers who are looking to dig that extra step deeper goes something like this: “How do you feel it is possible for soccer to provide aid in Africa?” Or maybe more like this: “Can soccer be a form of aid in Africa?”
I understand what they’re trying to ask. I feel that the words, and the perceptions these words bring, are incorrect in these instances. Words are very important to me. I have complete faith in Mark Twain and his quote: “The difference between the right word, and the almost right word, is like the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug.” Is it a brilliant and powerful flash of light that illuminates the night sky, or a tiny blinking insect that you can only see for a moment or two? ‘Charity’ and ‘Aid’ are the almost right words.
I feel that the word ‘aid’ implies a one time cause. The victims of Hurricane Katrina required aid. Those caught up in earthquakes, tornadoes, landslides and other short term disasters require aid. It is the same with the word ‘charity.’ The words imply giving a sum of money and walking away. They imply an unsustainable interest.
‘Development,’ ‘building,’ and ‘bridging’ are the words that I feel better apply to the type of organizations I wish to profile. To connect those words with other important words we’ll say sport development, community building, and societal bridging are the key concepts.
Africa doesn’t need aid. Africa (and yes I’m generalizing about an entire continent, I don’t have the time to research and write an entire book in this one blog post) is not facing a natural disaster every day. The people of Africa can, and do, get by on their own. What I want to discover is if these groups are participating in activities that lead to community building through sport to improve quality of life indefinitely. I want to observe if what is happening, with people from all over the world actually going to Africa and participating, is also what I want my audience to get from this – societal bridging. By building links between actual people, not governments or faceless organizations, we will all come closer together in terms of equality of standard of living and in our understanding of one another. This should lead to everyone becoming and remaining interested in the world around them, and for soccer to play a part in that equation.
You may be thinking, what do I mean when I say I want to ‘profile charitable organizations‘ then. I am speaking of the actual program administrations themselves. People and corporations donate money to these groups and walk away. It is the actual volunteers, coaches, teachers, mentors and front line staff administering these programs to the people they directly affect that are the ones doing this developing, building and bridging. The organizations are charitable by nature, the programs they administer shouldn’t be. Walking away is no longer acceptable.
I hope I have given you a better understanding of how I feel about the words ‘charity’ and ‘aid’ as they apply to development in Africa. What are your thoughts? The comment section is below if you would like to discuss.
If you would like to contribute to my ability to undertake the task of profiling these groups first hand please visit my fundraising campaign homepage: http://igg.me/p/193979?a=796969