In every society there are children and adolescents whose needs are not met by the standard educational opportunities on offer. At KICKFAIR, an organisation based in southern Germany that runs projects throughout the country, the main focus is on helping those disadvantaged youths - one of a number of groups they serve in the community.
- Officially founded in 2003 as KICK FORWARD
- Street football used as educational tool
- Educational concepts with youngsters form core of all work
- Nationwide projects
- Flat hierarchies
- Encourage interests and taking responsibility
- Approximately 20 primary employees and freelancers, over 100 volunteers
- Numerous partnerships domestically and internationally
To achieve this, KICKFAIR put together - and continually refine - an educational concept based on diverse street football projects. "Football is a phenomenon that reaches far beyond the sport itself," explained Steffi Biester, current head of the organisation. "Football is really attractive for our youngsters and it arouses strong emotions."
KICKFAIR's educational method is at the core of almost every project, alongside the vision for all children to have the same opportunities to develop their personal and professional potential. "For us it's all about facilitating learning, not imparting knowledge," continued Biester, who has frequently witnessed youngsters struggling to access "a lot of good projects and supportive measures in their schools before they settle with us". Here, the learning process is different to in school; it is informal, cognitive and emotional.
For many youngsters it is initially important to discover where their own interests actually lie. "What are my strengths? How can I expand them? We shouldn't always talk about weaknesses," Biester said.
Moreover, Biester explained that another message is conveyed to those participating in the projects: "You are allowed to fail. Failure is part of the learning process. The key thing is dealing with it in a positive way. With us, it's the very first time that a lot of youngsters hear that failure can be positive."
It is no surprise that football can be useful in that regard. Failure and defeat are an inherent part of sport, just as getting back up and carrying on are. Needless to say, these qualities and experiences can be transferred into other areas of life too.
The children and adolescents are actively involved at KICKFAIR. For instance, pupils in years five and six take part in street football tournaments at school so that they can take over a large part of the tournament organisation when they are in year seven.
The KICKFAIR concept states that youngsters "grow step by step into increasingly complex tasks involved in the planning, organising and staging of events", and that any conflicts that arise during matches are dealt with through dialogue. "A lot of children become aware that they enjoy organising," said Biester.
Cooperation with Football for Hope
KICKFAIR constructively criticises both itself and football continually and builds on numerous partnerships, such as those with adidas and the German Sport University, where the organisation gives lectures as part of a Master's degree course.
Furthermore, KICKFAIR have been working closely with the FIFA program Football for Hope for several years. "There, the core work is likewise always the same in principle, only with different emphases," Biester said. "For example, in 2015 and 2016 we concentrated on international collaboration, whereas now we're focusing on training young leaders."
In addition to the financial support provided by Football for Hope, Biester also appreciates the value of the forum run by the initiative, describing it as: "a huge platform for organisations worldwide to exchange information, and an event we're always invited to. They're very helpful platforms."
Speaking of KICKFAIR's experiences with Football for Hope, Biester said: "It's always been a cooperative partnership. When I've approached FIFA's Football for Hope team and asked for support, bridge-building or a foot in the door, they always make sure it happens. When you yourself become active and ask questions, doors start opening."
That message is undoubtedly one that could be passed on to the program's young participants too.
This feature is part of an ongoing series on FIFA.com highlighting NGOs (Non-governmental organisations) that form part of FIFA's Football for Hope initiative. The global project helps young people to improve their lives through football.