‘Field in a Box™’ is a Game Changer for Underprivileged Youth
One year after FedEx and the UEFA Foundation for Children installed their first ‘Field in a Box™’, an artificial turf football (soccer) field delivered in two shipping containers to Cañada Real, an impoverished neighborhood near Madrid, the impact has been far reaching.
“This football field has been a game changer for the young people of Cañada Real”, said Carlos de Carcer, founder and CEO of Red Deporte y Cooperación, one of several Spanish charities focusing their efforts on the children of Cañada.
“Having such a fantastic facility in Cañada was something really unexpected, almost unbelievable, for the people here. At the beginning, demand for the field was higher than we could have anticipated. The kids would jump the fence to play on it, and some groups would dominate the field at certain times of day. Now that the field has bedded in, and activities are coordinated so that everyone has an opportunity to benefit from it you can see a change among the kids. The football field has come to life as a shared resource and there is a sense of pride and responsibility, for something owned by the people of Cañada,” he said.
Playing on the field has raised ambitions to play in a local league, which would bring teams from the surrounding area to a neighborhood that may otherwise be avoided.
“We look like professionals playing, professional players,” said 12-year-old Omar el Messaoui, whose six brothers also use the football field.
The tournament was a unique opportunity for the children to learn and play football3 – a methodology that replaces the referee with a mediator, and encourages players to set their own rules for the game in conversation before the match.
“Cañada Real was chosen as the location for this first ‘Field in a Box™’ because we knew there was a huge potential for positive impact here,” says Frauke Horstmann, partner relations at streetfootballworld, a not-for-profit working globally to drive the “football for good” movement. “Football is such a powerful tool for developing life skills,” she continues, “So by providing access for young people to play football3, we turn the playing field into an important arena for young people to learn.”
Since becoming main sponsor of the UEFA Europa League, FedEx has worked with the UEFA Foundation for Children and streetfootballworld on initiatives to better connect young people to new possibilities through football.
The ‘Field in a Box™’ program is funded as part of FedEx Cares, a broader pledge to invest $200 million USD in more than 200 communities by the year 2020. Following the successful first project in Madrid, work on a second field has already begun in Poland.
FedEx Delivers Soccer to the Children of Madrid, Spain
July 29, 2016
While leading soccer clubs Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC were getting ready to battle to be crowned winner at the final of the prestigious annual UEFA Europa League competition in Basel, Switzerland, main sponsor FedEx proudly blew the full time whistle over 900 miles away… on the opening of a new community soccer pitch in the Cañada Real district of Madrid, Spain.
Cañada Real is one of Europe’s most economically disadvantaged areas, situated on land next to the former city garbage dump. The area has mushroomed into a ramshackle collection of often makeshift homes with tracks rather than roads, and is definitely lacking in facilities for local children and young people, for whom patches of dirt are the closest thing to a sports field or playground.
Following a community investment project jointly funded by FedEx and the UEFA Foundation for Children, in May 2016 Cañada Real became the proud home to a fully functioning, environmentally sustainable soccer pitch built from an innovative design that ensures longevity and minimal maintenance costs.
All of the components required for the pitch were delivered to site inside a shipping container, enabling the modular construction to be completed in less than a week by a local contractor. The container itself was converted to become a useful kit storage and changing facility, with a door and windows added and a colorful mural painted all over the outside.
During the construction, team members from FedEx Express in Madrid could not wait to roll up their sleeves and volunteered their time to clear a seating area adjacent to the pitch of weeds and brighten it up with a fresh coat of paint. Even FedEx Europe President, David Binks, found time to tour the site and meet with the local NGO and hear about how they will use it to reach hundreds of children each year through sports-focused community programs.
The pitch was officially handed over to the community at a ceremony hosted by Carlos Marchena, a former Spanish international and European and world champion soccer player. He was welcomed excitedly by over 50 local children, many of whom can now boast they played in a match with him, and may have gotten the ball rolling toward their own professional careers!
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