A dialogue on Sustainability with the European Union Ambassador to India! His Excellency, Ugo Astuto, European Union Ambassador to India was recently in Goa along with Environment, Energy & Climate Change Counsellor, Ms. Henriette Faergemman and met with the Forca Goa Foundation team. The dialogue revolved around Sustainable Development Goals, Fairtrade and Forca Goa Foundation.

The Ambassador was hosted by the Founder and Non – Executive Chairman of the Forca Goa Foundation and President of FC Goa , Mr. Akshay Tandon along with Miss. Devina Singh from Fairtrade India. Other members of the Foundation team present were Shivangini Tandon, Ishita Godinho and Nathaniel Dcosta. We were also joined by our Global Goals World Cup team and our grassroots coaches. 

The visit gave us a chance to present our work towards the Sustainable Development Goals in front of His Excellency. We explained to the ambassador the 3 core pillars of the Foundation – Football, Sustainability and Empowerment. Two years back our decision to source Fairtrade footballs has taken us one step closer to champion SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production.

The Fairtrade movement aims at empowering workers by ensuring they have proper working conditions and fair wages. The foundation has sourced 1800 Fairtrade Footballs between 2018 – 2020 from a Fairtrade certified factory in Jalandhar that complies with social, economic and environmental Fairtrade standards. By sourcing Fairtrade footballs, we ensure that our footballs come from a factory where workers are treated fairly. In fact, the Forca Goa Foundation is the first organisation in India to take a pledge to source Fairtrade footballs only.

Speaking on the occasion of the event, H.E. Ugo Astuto said, “Environment, energy, resource efficiency and circular economy are some of the key issues that the EU works on. In this context, the activities being implemented by Fairtrade India through an EU funded project, are commendable. Meeting the young women athletes today reinforces my belief that the problem we face today on climate change, on depletion of resources and on environmental degradation, seeps through to all generations and is truly a global challenge. The commitment of Forca Goa and the football team to sustainable consumption and production sets a good example that every initiative counts and I hope they will continue on this journey with the same enthusiasm that I have witnessed today.”

He commended Forca Goa Foundation for its sustainability initiative for championing 3 SDG’s in the Global Goals World Cup and winning ‘Best Action towards Sustainable Development Goals (to know more about this, do check out our blog on the Global Goals World Cup). He further talked about the importance for all organisations to start developing such initiatives at the base and work from the bottom up. Besides handling the Foundation a certificate for their efforts, he also scored a goal with a Fairtrade football on the field.

Talking about the event, Akshay Tandon said,”We hope to champion the power of football and sports in transforming communities and lives. The EU is known to recognize and promote sustainability through sports and football in a big way. I hope we can learn from them and work together in the near future.” 

Premier Skills is a partnership between Premier League and British Council that aims to develop grassroots coaches and referees in order to utilise the power of football and inspire young people to make better decisions and improve their lives. Since 2007, Premier Skills has been preparing coaches with all skills to start developing football projects within their neighbourhoods. For this, they have the Premier Skills Coach Education programme.

The first phase of this program allows coaches to develop skills and knowledge to start training young kids in their community. Coaches who move on to the second phase learn about the role of a coach educator. They are also given an inclusive understanding of how to train young people from different walks of life, from young girls with vulnerable backgrounds to young people with any form of disability. In the third phase, coaches are further groomed into becoming coach educators. They become licensed to take community coaching workshops and create community coaches.

Out of all our grassroots coaches, 11 have completed Phase 1 training, 4 have completed Phase 2 training and 2 have successfully become coach educators. Coach Nathaniel D’Costa and Coach Clinton Pacheco attended the week-long course run in association with the Indian Super League in Reliance Corporate Park, Navi Mumbai. They are now amongst the 43 coaches in India who have completed Phase 3. Both the coaches attended sessions by Premier Skills Coach Educators Jez Weeks and Graham Robinson which aimed to provide coaches from across India with the knowledge and skills to run their own training courses within their communities.

Our Coach Educators have since then taken a community coaching session for the FC Goa Women’s team. The Foundation has also conducted a British Council funded and supported workshop in Shillong for 20 coaches from 3 local clubs and a local grassroots academy. The workshop was conducted by Nathaniel along with another Premier Skills Coach Educator, Avinash Kharel. 

The learnings from the programme have further helped the Foundation’s regular sessions. It has provided both coaches with a better perspective on how they can improve the Foundation’s regular programmes to increase their effectiveness.

Coach development and empowerment is a big part of the Foundation’s work. This year, we have developed 20 community coaches through our community coaching programme till now. The next year we plan to develop 40-50 coaches through these programmes. 

Recently UNESCO organised the Sport and SDGs Youth Funshop in Seoul from 5th to 8th September. The event was attended by seventy youth activists from 28 countries across Asia-Pacific. Each participant was an advocate for sports for development, leading their community’s sports-based social projects. Amongst those selected participants was our Community Development Manager, Ishita Godinho.

The purpose of the Funshop was for these individuals to exchange ideas and improve their programmes. Various sessions were taken by experienced facilitators to deliver capacity-building modules. All the participants exchanged their experiences and came up with better ideas for developing their respective programmes. Through these sessions, participants gained a deeper understanding of the role that sport can play in achieving the SDG’s. They were also invited to be a part of the Youth and Sport Task Force.

Many of the discussions revolved around gender equality and the youth came with powerful stories to share about their work and their determination to create impact. There were sessions on utilising best practices for program management, fundraising, theories of change, how to utilise social media for sports development, impact assessment, and the importance of partnerships. Ishita also learnt how different types of sports are being used to create impact and about the cultural barriers sport has. 

Ishita recalls,” We discussed how to get more girls involved in sports. One of the barriers in India is the fact that women are not encouraged to participate in sports in the same way women in New Zealand are. This hampers the growth of women in sports. A lot of people believe we should be using cricket as a tool for creating impact as India is a cricketing nation.” She came back with an enlightening experience and a lot of resources to help her enhance her work.