November 2009: Children in Malawi love football. It is a national sport. Someone does not need to be rich in order to play football. Children will do whatever they can just to be able to play this game. To have a proper ball is not easy for the children who cannot even afford to buy lunch worth K50 (less than 50p in the UK). Many children collect plastic bags to make a ball just to have fun. Many street children can name English football players by heart; they know Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, Didier Drogba, David Beckham and many more.
Chimwemwe got its first proper footballs in 2009. Within a week, the children had set up their own rules on how the football should be used. It was very fascinating to hear one of the boys, Noel saying:
“This football should only be played in the afternoon after school. No children who do not go to school should be allowed to play”.
The new footballs are not just for games; Chimwemwe uses them to build relationships among the children themselves and also with other people they interact with. Macdonald takes a ball when reaching out to the children and invites them to play if they want.
Chimwemwe is using this opportunity to teach children discipline. Children are learning football rules, the power of team work, and also caring for one another, especially if one in injured while playing the game. Each and every time before the game, children are asked to say some rules of the game and how they can apply the rules in their everyday lives.
Apart from encouraging children to return back to school, the football is also helping to keep the children physically fit.
Chimwemwe is using football to reach over 5 communities. The long-term plan is to have football teams in all the communities the organization is working with. It is expected that by the middle of next year, Chimwemwe will join the Blantyre youth football league. This will help the children to develop their self-esteem through interacting with other children.