Social Impact: Street Football World

UCLA's Impact@Anderson organization hosted an event last night with streetfootballworld, the world's leading non-profit in the field of soccer for good.

The conversation touched on social enterprise, how to use soccer to promote social impact at scale, using soccer to shift culture, the power of local efforts, and the emerging role of everyday people in leading social movements – especially in a world experiencing rapid declines in trust: in corporations, in public life, and between individuals. 

Soccer touches the lives of almost 3.5 billion people, and along with music is considered one of the most powerful cultural / economic forces in the world. Streetfootballworld has raised and distributed almost $1 billion USD in the last 10 years, targeting the funds to locally driven priorities such as disarming FARC in Colombia, combatting homelessness, and eradicating HIV/AIDS. Sport has a uniquely powerful influence and can bridge political and social divides.

Highlights of the event included: Juan Mata, an international soccer star on Manchester United, repeating that he "earns too much money" as a social commentary on how we value people and talents; his further concern that the danger with social media is that it exalts the wrong things, rather than what is best and most honorable in us; streetfootballworld's founder espousing that if you are genuine with what you are doing and you persevere, people will come to you, community will form around you; and a thought floated by an audience member that we should seek not merely to donate to social causes but also to invest in them. Ultimately streetfootballworld operates on the belief that collaboration (rather than competition) and connection are legitimately aspirational modes of being / ways of measuring.

The evening felt like a quietly subversive tweak at a world in which we are taught to make more, get more, and look out for ourselves at the expense of not seeing the world around us. Social impact does not need to be the sole province of quixotic types: it can operate on a multinational level, tackle serious problems, and bring out the best instincts of each of us.

On that note, I found myself talking to Keely (not misspelled), the co-founder of Goal-Five, a soon-to-launch line of soccer apparel geared specifically to women. The concept is spot-on and the execution (although limited to their pre-launch marketing and graphics at this stage, the clothes won't be ready until the Fall) is powerful: channeling some strength and attitude while embracing femininity. Check out their website here.


Lesley RobertsComment