Football is known as the beautiful game for a reason. It is the people’s sport: a game so uncomplicated in its natural form that it requires just a solitary ball. And this might be a makeshift ball too, of any shape and size. Unlike some sports, football can be played almost anywhere. But to play at a more serious level, much more is needed. Not everyone is blessed with the resources to purchase and own other essentials, such as boots and jerseys. What might be a novelty to us might be a necessity to someone else.
In times like this, it provides a ray of sunshine to see organisations such as Their Beautiful Game be the spark of hope aspiring children deserve. Everyone has the right to play and enjoy the game, regardless of background. At Their Beautiful Game, they support football projects around the world, providing a platform upon which the effects
of poverty can be lessened. Donors are able to see where and to whom their donations go, a principle that helps to bring both parties closer. Bringing about a smile on an underprivileged child through the simple act of donation is one of the best acts of kindness possible.
Dave Oswell was working as a teacher at The Scots College, Sydney, and took donations from the school when he went to Ghana on a voluntary trip. While he was there, he coached football at schools and clubs in Accra and at the Buduburam Liberian Refugee Camp on Ghana’s south coast. He returned with the realization that more could be done to assist them, and Their Beautiful Game was hence born. People have been involved ever since – donations have flooded in, and have reached places from Brazil to India, Kenya to Sierra Leone. They were formalized as a not for profit organization in 2016.
Rahul Warrier spoke to Dave Oswell on his project and the motivations behind it.
What’s Their Beautiful Game about? How did you end up with them?
Their Beautiful Game is a not-for-profit that collects and donates football equipment such as boots, balls and team strips to pass on to footballers living in poverty or disadvantage. It is our belief that everyone has the right to play! Our work involves collecting all the things a football team needs from local schools and clubs here in Sydney, and then passing them on to football projects across the globe. We have supported footballers in 21 countries around the world in Africa, Asia, South America and the Pacific.
I founded Their Beautiful Game back in 2009 when I travelled to Ghana to do some voluntary work. Whilst there, I worked in various schools and with various football clubs and saw the need for basic equipment. I realised that at home, many people have boots, balls and team kits that are no longer needed but are in perfectly good condition that could be put to good use. When I returned to Australia I began to put the word out and was inundated with offers of support. Their Beautiful Game grew from there and hasn’t stopped growing since!
What’s the long-term goal/vision at Their Beautiful Game?
The long-term goal is to continue to expand our network of people and organisations who can support the work we do – the more people that donate, the more boots and balls we can put at the feet of those who need them!
Are there any interesting anecdotes that you’d wish to share?
There are dozens of interesting stories about people who live in severe poverty but still have football as a central feature of their lives. We’ve worked with street kids in Africa who literally have nothing but the clothes on their back and have to rely on begging for food and money to survive. They love football just as much as any other kid around the world, so it’s nice to be able to give them their own ball to play with.
Donations have arrived for girls of Shimshal FC, in a remote village in the mountains of the Afghan, Chinese and Pakistani border. We’ve also been influential locally, supporting the Aboriginal footballers and Indigenous youngsters. In addition, we were part of the Australian effort in the Homeless Football World Cup held in Oslo last year. Our stories can be found on the website blog and Facebook page.
Are there any other non-for-profit organisations that you look up to?
We collaborate with several not for profits in making sure our donations get to where they need to go – it’s good to know that in these tough times politically, there are still many people collectively working to make the world a better place!
What’s the psychological difference you notice between regular players and those living in hardship? Is there a stark difference in motivation levels?
There is no difference. We just aim to give people the things they need to enjoy playing football regardless of age, ethnicity, gender or ability.
To learn more about Their Beautiful Game, you can watch their film here:
To donate to Their Beautiful Game, you can do so HERE.
For all of the glitz and glamour, football is still a simple game that belongs to the grassroots and the community. Their Beautiful Game is one of many organisations ensuring this is the case, helping so many around the world to enjoy and benefit from gifts that others might shun. That’s a great deed in itself. Long may the commendable work of Dave and his team continue. The best deeds in the game often go unnoticed, but they deserve their moment in the light.