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A safe space to play

Children must be able to play. This allows them to relax, get exercise, create social support networks and life skills. Payatas, a slum area in The Philippines, is far from a united community. With limited space and resources, conflict between differing groups often arises. Children can get caught up in this. Our partner, Fairplay For All Foundation, provides a space for every child. It doesn’t matter which part of the community they come from. They come to play sports at the centre in an environment of cooperation and teamwork. This environment is crucial as it helps them develop confidence and social skills.

Problems with the sports centre

Fairplay approached us in 2016 about the issues they had with their space and equipment. Children played barefoot during training sessions and competitions. Every day Fairplay carried water in so that players could drink and wash after football. Many groups had to share one pitch, which was of poor quality and flooded in the rainy season. There was no electricity to light the pitch. Plus, it had no protection from fly-tippers and trespassers.

Improving security at the sports centre

At first, we committed to building a second pitch. We wanted to help expand their facility so that more children could play sports. This proved too far a goal for us though, as we failed to raise enough funds to meet the costs of doing so. Fairplay faced a dilemma. Where were the funds going to come from to expand? A question too often asked by NGOs. An answer soon presented itself leading to them securing funds from another partner.

Upon reevaluation of our budget, we decided to contribute towards security instead. We paid for a perimeter wall around the pitch. Once completed, the wall immediately improved the centre both in appearance and security. Trespassers were no longer able to get in where before they caused much nuisance. Some would use the pitch as an open toilet. Others would use it to burn copper wires that they’d scavenged. The copper extracted from the burnt cabling fetches up to £1.50 per kilo.

We’re super proud of the impact of our contribution. Thanks to our supporters, Payatas’s children can continue their development through football unimpeded.

Further improvements to the sports centre

Fairplay have by no means sat on their laurels since then. The’ve continued to find new funding partners to make the space much better. Their efforts are bearing fruit. A new second court has doubled the number of coaching sessions and games played. Improved drainage now prevents pitch flooding; meaning usage even in the rainy season! A new water filter means players have clean drinking water and can shower before they go home. Pitches, toilets, showers and offices are now used in the dark thanks to a new electricity feed. Opening up new opportunities for the community to enjoy the centre. A new shoe bank provides children with second-hand but good quality trainers. This not only reduces the risk of injury but makes all the difference to how children enjoy football.

These improvements to the sports centre may seem basic, but they are essential. The changes Fairplay has implemented means more of the community can benefit. More children can play, they can play for longer and they better enjoy taking part. The impact is huge.

What’s next?

There is still more work needed to complete all the desired improvements at the centre. The challenge is setting the right priorities in line with available resources. Fairplay want to build a roof over one of the courts. This would make the pitch usable in heavy rain, and protect it from the elements prolonging its life.

We want to continue to play a role in improving the sports centre with Fairplay. The benefits to the children and community are immediate and tangible. Stay tuned for updates. Read more about our work in Payatas with Fairplay.

Some images of the sports centre