A global sport that transcends boundaries, football has the remarkable ability to bring us all together; uniting everyone under a shared love of the beautiful game. Division and discrimination, however, still exists in society and can manifest itself in different forms.
Kenya’s Horn of Africa Development Initiative (HODI), who are using the power of football to combat social barriers while fostering safety, were presented with the FIFA Diversity Award 2018 during at a ceremony in London on Sunday.
Moderated by sports journalist and broadcaster Amanda Davies, the event was a rich showcase of best practice on diversity and anti-discrimination through football, with representatives of diverse organisations from around the globe present, including the award’s finalists John Moriarty Football (Australia) and Show Racism the Red Card (UK).
The ceremony included a keynote speech by FIFA Council Member and member of the Diversity Award jury Lydia Nsekera of Burundi and a panel with Di Cunningham of Three Lions Pride and Proud Canaries, Piara Powar of Fare network and FIFA’s Head of Sustainability & Diversity Federico Addiechi. All provided an insightful discussion into combating prejudice and promoting diversity through football.
FIFA Legend and former Canada women’s goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc also gave a talk on stage before a panel with the three finalists took place with Noor Abdulkadir of HODI, Fiona Hekking of John Moriarty Football and Ged Grebby of Show Racism the Red Card – highlighting their esteemed work in the fight against discrimination. HODI was then presented with the award by Nsekera.
“This is the third Diversity Award that FIFA has organised, highlighting organisations and individuals that are standing up for diversity and inspiring unity, solidarity and equality among all people,” said Nsekera. “Football is for all. Diversity is a defining trait of the game. It is one of the main reasons why football is played and loved so much around the world.
“We have the responsibility to ensure the game is being used as a tool for positive change in society. To fight discrimination, we must together learn from each other. I’m glad to be here today and be inspired by organisations and individuals who are fighting discrimination in all its forms and who are contributing to an open and diverse society day in and day out.”
The FIFA Diversity Award was first introduced in 2016 to recognise an outstanding organisation, group initiative or personality that is standing up for diversity and anti-discrimination in football. The aim of highlighting such organisations is to inspire others to take up the cause and use football to fight prejudice and promote inclusion.
FIFA Diversity Award recipients
2016: Slum Soccer (India)
2017: Soccer Without Borders (USA/Nicaragua/Uganda)
2018: Horn of Africa Development Initiative (Kenya)
Working closely with schools, HODI supports adolescent girls in breaking the silence on issues that affect them, sharing information on life skills and creating a safe space for them to learn and play football.
The organisation’s flagship programme Shoot to Score helps to prevent young children from being forced into ethnic rivalry and conflict, providing safe spaces for learning a culture of non-violence through football.
“This award is an important recognition and puts the wind behind our sails. It means the work we are doing is important and it gives a lot of confidence to young women in northern Kenya that we are on the right track – that FIFA and the whole football community is behind us,” said HODI’s Noor Abdulkadir.
“Some of the girls when they started with us, they were not allowed to kick a ball. Now they can use football to stand up for their rights and fight all forms of gender discrimination they face.
“Football has given them confidence. They have the confidence to stand up against arranged marriage or female genital mutilation in northern Kenya and report it. We are trying to change the narrative.
“This award shows that football is not just about the top leagues or top players – it’s about recognising grassroots organisations which are using football to build new stars in remote regions in the world.”
HODI was selected as the winner of the FIFA Diversity Award 2018 by a high-profile 11-strong jury comprising global experts in tackling discrimination and renowned figures from world football, including Clarence Seedorf and Abby Wambach. As this year’s winner, HODI is invited to form the jury of the FIFA Diversity Award for the 2019 edition.
Jury of the FIFA Diversity Award 2018
- Ryan Atkin, English referee
- Jefinho, Brazil international of blind football, 5-a-side
- Mary McVeigh Connor, Soccer without Borders – winner of the FIFA Diversity Award 2017
- Maria Sol Munoz, Member of FIFA Council, Ecuador
- Lydia Nsekera, Member of FIFA Council, Burundi
- Alexandra Haas Paciuc, President of CONAPRED, Mexico
- Khalida Popal, FIFA Legend, former Afghan player, Programme Director for the Afghanistan women’s national team
- Jaiyah Saelua, American Samoa international
- Clarence Seedorf, FIFA Legend, four-time UEFA Champions League winner and former Dutch international
- Tokyo Sexwale, South African anti-apartheid activist
- Abby Wambach, FIFA Women’s World Cup™ winner, former USA international