More than a game
Ever heard of Roberto Firmino?
If you went ‘Who’s that?’ like this writer, perhaps you’re not exactly a football fan.
But for 11-year-old Rizky, this Brazilian professional footballer* is his favourite player.
Like Firmino, Rizky plays football, and has been doing so for 4 years, out of which 3 were spent with FootballPlus Singapore.
Football is Rizky’s hobby, his interest, and definitely his favourite sport to do with his buddies. He may seem like a shy boy, but talking about football lights up his face
Thanks to FootballPlus Singapore, a charity with a vision to use football to help change lives and build stronger communities, Rizky doesn’t just see football as a form of exercise, but a place of learning values and growing his potential.
Other than teaching kids about football fundamentals and techniques, coaches of FootballPlus connect values to football skills using “Values Integrated Through Action-based Learning” (V.I.T.A.L.) principles. “Values learnt would help the kids in their studies and as a person, in the community,” says coach Wen Jin. Some values covered in the curriculum include respect, encouragement, commitment, care, forgiveness, meekness, responsibility and obedience.
One value Rizky has learnt is patience, through the basic fundamental of simply waiting for the ball to be passed to him. For Rizky’s mother Sazlinah, the sole breadwinner for their family, football is a positive hobby for her son.
The FootballPlus academy is catered to children and youth between 7 – 16 years old. For girls aged above 13, they are encouraged to join the the ladies’ team. FootballPlus players are also sent for tournaments. Selection is based on training performance and attendance. There are no additional costs involved in participating in a competition as all competition and coaching fees are absorbed by FootballPlus.
Subsidies are given to children from low-income families to enable them to be part of this programme, to help them fulfill their full potential. Based on data collected in 2014, close to 80% of their players are under FootballPlus’ sponsorship. The average household income per capita is around SGD 375. More than SGD 40,000 of sponsorship were given to these children in 2014 alone.
Other than the football academy, FootballPlus also holds school programmes, champion programmes, community days and competitions. Scrolling through their Facebook page brought smiles to this writer, because the genuine joy and satisfaction on the players’ faces are so palpable.
Football is not just a sport, more than a game – for Rizky and his friends, football is about life, passion, learning and growing as a person, all in one practice session.
*who plays for Premier League club Liverpool and the Brazil national team
Special Thanks to:
Volunteer Writer: Michelle Heng
Volunteer Videographer: Vicinity Studio (Creative for Causes)