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January 29, 2005

Sarvodaya, FIFA, and Footballers


Dr Ari

Sarvodaya President A.T. Ariyaratne and FIFA’s Head of Development Programmes and Services, Urs Zanitti

Please note that these are rough notes from a meeting and not to be considered legally or otherwise binding.

The Sri Lanka Football Federation has created a relief fund with FIFA and the AFC. Mr. Manilal Fernando said that they would like Sarvodaya as a strategic partner in having a proper relief and reconstruction phase, and in the long-term rehabiliatation of youth. Mr. Fernando mentioned that the rehabilitation of child-soldiers has been a long-term commitment of the Football Federation. He then told the encouraging story (paraphrased),

“In Batticaloa we set the kids playing with a ball. The child soldiers would stand at the outskirts. Evenutally we would kick the ball over to them, and they’d begin to play.”

Mr. Fernando spoke of a goal of educated children who are also good sportsmen. Mr. Urs Zanitti, Head of Development Programmes and Services added that football is a team sport where children have to learn to respect teammates, learn to lose, and learn to follow rules – all basic life skills. Mr Zaniti added said that, unknown to most people, FIFA donates 1/3 of its proceeds to Development projects. He spoke of FIFA having a core of 250 million active soccer players and fans, and an extended family of over 1 billion.

Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne, President and Founder of Sarvodaya, responded that Sarvodaya too has a core of 2,000 workers and and extended family of over 200,000 volunteers and 15,000 villages.

“I would like to thank Urs Zanitti, Mr. Fernando and all for visiting and giving us this wonderful idea. I think Sarvodaya can be a good partner. In Trinco, Batticaloa and Ampara we can select quite a substantial ammount of villages.

First we can bring in people who have some skill in sports as organizers. They can be a part of Shanthi Sena (Peace Brigade), which is already 100,000 strong. We can select this group for a leadership training camp, train them to go back and organize this sport in their villages.

Through the children who begin to play football we can find the needs of the larger group of children in the area, the 5000 or more connected children who may not come to play football, but may be artists or leaders in other aspects”

Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement for the People in Need.