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Friday, January 1, 2021

THE PFBBA THINGY RESULTS

Over the past few years, the fine art of blogging has been pushed aside by, amongst others, vloggers, podcasters and Instagram accounts all aiming for the general public's attention on social media, and, quite often, the bank-card in the collective wallet as well. The patient, written word has been pushed aside in favour of the perhaps visually more attractive but increasingly breathless, inane and vacuous goings-on of folk on camera, many of whom started out as bloggers but who have become sole traders.

That is all well and good, and many people will be of the opinion that times change and that social media must change with it, including how a message is delivered. But, I'm still someone who prefers reading a book to perusing an Ebook, and will rather listen to a CD than to YouTube (although I do both with relish), and will rather read a blog than watch someone rabbit on about something which doesn't interest me.

The trouble is, blogs - and good blogs, in particular - are becoming increasingly rare. Even the Football Blogging Awards are now called the Football Content Awards, and blogs are increasingly hard to find in amongst the bells and whistles from vloggers, podcasters and other content creators. For a while now, I'd thought about creating a one-off process solely aimed at raising the profile of small-scale bloggers, and recently hit upon hosting a virtual vote and, in a moment of blinding originality, calling the whole thing the Pat's Football Blog Blogging Awards. I also wanted to give a leg up for categories other awards operations normally ignore, such as football shirts, Subbuteo, walking football, match programme reviews and so on.

Most of the nominations, including some which had to be rejected, were known to me, but quite a few weren't. Some of them were rejected because they plainly weren't blogs, but websites. It's quite difficult to accept a nomination when a website describes itself as a website.. 

Others were rejected because they sought payment in return for access to certain articles, or because they published a magazine to complement their site; they are no longer blogs in my eyes, but businesses. Still others were refused consideration because they were essentially podcasts or vlogs, or used video interviews or podcast material to an over-large degree. 

One or two people were put out by their nominations being refused, but I wanted to give a chance to pur sang bloggers (and this was explained to them at length), although I did try to give those blogs which used match highlights a bit of leeway. 

The Pat's Football Blog Blogging Awards was a small-scale operation for small-scale blogs, and the number of people who voted reflected this, but, pleasingly, a number of blogs did attract new followers and get some welcome exposure. That was the whole objective of the exercise. I also discovered several new blogs and got to know several more a bit better, and every one of those blogs (and websites and podcasts) nominated had a lot to offer and are well worth delving into.

There were originally twelve categories for which nominations were accepted, with a minimum of two nominations per category needed in order for a public vote to go ahead. In the end, nine categories were opened; no nominations were received for the Subbuteo, Walking Football and Non-English Language categories.

NOMINATED BLOGS

GENERAL: The 94th Minute; Gareth's Football Travels; The Left-sided Problem; The Lonely Goalpost; Jimmy Sirrel's Lovechild; And Still Ricky Villa; A Sticker's Worth 500 Words; The Welsh Goalkeeper

FOOTBALL SHIRTS: The Global Obsession; World Shirts; Soccer Sartorial; Adam's Shirt Quest

UK & IRELAND NON-LEAGUE: AFE Football News; The 94th Minute; The Terrace Traveller; The Welsh Goalkeeper; The Cold End; Gareth's Football Travels

INTERNATIONAL INTEREST: Gareth's Football Travels; English Abroad, Far Out Football; The Cold End; Playing Away From Home; Living In Montserrat; Menorca Football; Pasifika Sisters

NEW BLOGS: The Left-sided Problem; The Soccer Mentor; A Sticker's Worth 500 Words; The Welsh Goalkeeper

GROUNDHOPPING: The Terrace Traveller; Manchopper's Ventures; Gareth's Football Travels; Topliss At The Turnstiles

WOMEN'S FOOTBALL: Pasifika Sisters; This Fan Girl; Dare 2 Blog - Women's Football

NON-FIFA/MINNOWS: Pasifika Sisters; Living In Montserrat

MATCH PROGRAMME REVIEWS: Gareth's Football Travels; The Cold End; Jimmy Sirrel's Lovechild

On to the results of the public vote, and, in the main, those who won their respective categories were deserving of their finishing top of the pile, and the list of winners is below. Many congratulations to them all!

PUBLIC VOTE

GENERAL: The 94th Minute

FOOTBALL SHIRTS: The Global Obsession

INTERNATIONAL INTEREST: English Abroad

NEW BLOGS: The Left-sided Problem

GROUNDHOPPING: The Terrace Traveller

WOMEN'S FOOTBALL: Dare 2 Blog - Women's Football

NON-FIFA/MINNOWS: Living In Montserrat

UK & IRELAND NON-LEAGUE: The Terrace Traveller

MATCH PROGRAMME REVIEWS: Gareth's Football Travels

I had a good look at the nominations before, during and after the voting, and decided that I would give my own "awards" in addition to the public vote; a kind of "Patman's Choice", if you will. One or two results are a little different to those of the public vote, but my choices are purely personal, of course, and might radically differ from the PFBBA proper. I also wanted to recognise one or two blogs with virtual awards away from any voting process.

My own choices allied mainly with the public vote, with Clint Jones' 94th Minute coming top of the General category because of a wonderfully eclectic mix of writing matter, written in Clint's own inimitable style. The Global Obsession wins the Football Shirt section, but by a whisker from Adam's Shirt Quest and Sartorial Soccer. 

My choice of Menorca Football for the International Interest category might surprise a few people, but I like what they are trying to do in promoting football in an ignored and overlooked corner of footballing Spain, and it is comprehensive in its approach. The Left-sided Problem concentrates on top-level football, but with more of a historical bent, and does so comprehensively. It deserved the New Blogs award, but The Soccer Mentor, A Sticker's Worth 500 Words and The Welsh Goalkeeper are original in their outlook, and all four are worth reading (and following). I see much potential here.

All four nominations for the Groundhopping category have lots of plus points, but no-one does it quite like The Terrace Traveller. Those of you who know his work won't need any further explanation. Those who don't just have to head over to his blog to understand why. 

Only three blogs made it through to be nominated for the Women's Football section; This Fan Girl seemed to have shut down for Christmas, as had Pasifika Sisters, and neither took an active part in promoting their chances, but both offer interesting reading matter (on radically different areas of the women's game) and are well worth following. Terry McFadden's Dare 2 Blog - Women's Football is a down-to-earth blog with few frills but lots of good articles and match-reports, which in the main shine a much-needed spotlight on lower-league women's football in England, and made him a deserving winner in a small but high-standard field.

Just two blogs took part in the Non-FIFA/Minnows poll, which was won by Living In Montserrat. The name correctly suggests that it's more than a football blog, but Craig Brewin's blog was given a chance due to it being the only blog I know which reports regularly on football-matters Montserratian (and it's worth checking out for other bits and pieces to do with life on the Caribbean island). Pasifika Sisters, meanwhile, is a relatively new blog, which covers women's football in the OFC region and elsewhere in the Pacific, and does it well. I couldn't decide between the two; a joint award it is.

Gareth's Football Travels won the public Match Programme Reviews award, and wins this one, too, but it was a close thing between Mr. Williams and The Cold End for Patman's Choice. Both are very informative, but Gareth breaks down the content and gives his articles a little more of a personal touch.

Still, if you're looking for a blog which would be the ultimate representative for English non-league football, you would be hard-pressed to find a generally better, more comprehensive, more informative one than The Cold End, and author Barry has been keeping up the same high standard for years. I only hope he finds the time to add to his programme (and other) writings, some of which he hasn't done in a while, and can also find space on his home page to showcase his articles on the Belarussian Premier League. I think he was robbed in the UK & Ireland Non-league public vote, but he's Patman's Choice in this category, and by a distance.

Because of the astounding amount of top-quality work Barry has produced since 2009, making him one of the longest-serving bloggers I know of (a year longer than yours truly), he richly deserves a PFB award for Services to Blogging, such as it is. I recommend his work in writing about and promoting non-League football, and commend him for being one of the few bloggers to comprehensively cover football in Belarus this past year, helping - alongside the one and only Chris Walker, the man behind CW Sport Radio - to provide a football fix for lovers of the ball which is round during much of lockdown, and all at a consistently high standard.

Finally, a word for all the nominees for the Football Shirt category. Those who collect shirts are a misunderstood but close-knit community, who look out for each other in many ways. The four nominees, Adam's Shirt Quest, Soccer Sartorial, The Global Obession and World Shirts, took part in an extremely sporting section, and deserve an accolade for their fair-play during voting.

PFB VOTE

GENERAL: The 94th Minute

FOOTBALL SHIRTS: The Global Obsession

INTERNATIONAL INTEREST: Menorca Football

NEW BLOGS: The Left-sided Problem

GROUNDHOPPING: The Terrace Traveller

WOMEN'S FOOTBALL: Dare 2 Blog - Women's Football

NON-FIFA/MINNOWS: Living In Montserrat/Pasifika Sisters

UK & IRELAND NON-LEAGUE: The Cold End

MATCH PROGRAMME REVIEWS: Gareth's Football Travels

PFBBA FAIR-PLAY AWARD: The Global Obsession/World Shirts/Soccer Sartorial/Adam's Shirt Quest

SERVICES TO BLOGGING AWARD: The Cold End 

Whether or not any of the blogs nominated for the PFBBAs receive any more accolades in the future is mainly up to them, but I was very happy to discover a number of new blogs, and not just those which were nominated, but also a few others which left comments and which would have been excellent nominations for any blogging awards. There was something for everyone in the PFBBAs, and I hope that the blogs involved develop, evolve and prosper in the future. Give them your support.

I thank every one of you who took an interest in the PFBBAs, every one of you who nominated a blog, whether it was your own or that of someone else, every one of you who voted, every one of you who commented on or supported this little venture in any way. I'm only sorry I have no trophies or mementos for the winners, but I think every blog which has taken part has won in its own way. If nothing else, my little project has shown that there is a lot of good writing to be discovered out there, a lot of good writers to be showcased and supported. Let's find them and help them out. After all, if we can't go to watch football, we can at least read about it.

Monday, December 14, 2020

FOOTBALL RALLIES ROUND TO HELP THE ELDERLY AND VULNERABLE IN ARTSAKH

The past couple of months have seen a conflict break out in the breakaway republic of Artsakh (better known as Nagorno-Karabakh), nestled in the southern Caucasus Mountains between Armenia and Azerbaijan. An Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in the days of the USSR, surrounded by Azerbaijan but mostly populated by people of Armenian stock, it broke away from Azerbaijan at the beginning of January 1992 following an independence referendum (which was boycotted by local Azerbaijanis).

Since then, of course, two conflicts between Artsakh, Armenia and Azerbaijan have followed, with the second ending last month with Azerbaijan regaining just about all of the territory outside Artsakh it lost during the first war, which ended in May 1994 following a ceasefire. The ins and outs of the two "Nagorno-Karabakh Wars" are already being discussed and argued over elsewhere; there is no need to go over them here.

During the second conflict, Artsakh's capital, Stepanakert, came under daily attack from Azeri artillery and aircraft. As the city slowly began to empty during the latter stages of the conflict, it became clear that the elderly and vulnerable, as in every war ever known to man, were suffering greatly, despite the efforts of NGOs such as Kooyrigs. The fact that the Corona virus, was, and remains rampant in the southern reaches of the Caucasus region as a whole, only exacerbated the problems experienced by those who remained.


It was then that a group of football fans and players came together to form Football For Artsakh, better known via social media as Footy4Artsakh (and named as such hereafter), a small organisation dedicated to raising money to aid the elderly and vulnerable in Stepanakert. Many of those involved in Footy4Artsakh have an emotional bond with the nation and its capital, and this is unsurprising, given that they attended last year's CONIFA European Football Cup, which was held in Artsakh, in one capacity or another.

In a statement, released early last month, they referred to the affection and care shown to them during their stay in Artsakh, and said that they, "as part of the global football community, want to give back to the hosts, Nagorno-Karabakh. We celebrated together and now we must also be together for these hard times."

The statement, released on 5 November, and signed by CONIFA and WUFA member associations, amongst others, is provided in full below.

FOOTY4ARTSAKH STATEMENT

"A deadly war is raging in the Southern Caucasus since 27 September 2020. The small unrecognised Republic of Artsakh, also known under its former name Nagorno-Karabakh, and its 150000 inhabitants have been under attack for more than a month now. An estimated 6000 lives have been lost and over 90000 Karabakhtsi are taking refuge in Armenia. The citizens that stayed behind in the war-zone are often the elderly who [are unable to evacuate to Armenia]. They have been spending their days and nights in bomb-shelters or basements for weeks now.

"As all local shops are currently closed, the humanitarian situation is getting worse by the day.It is up to individuals and small civil organisations like Kooyrigs, who distribute supplies, to bring relief during times of war. Kooyrigs are more than humanitarian fighters in a war-zone that many call home - they are our allies in showing that football still has the massive power of solidarity. That's why we are collecting funds to help them on their mission to help the civilians of Nagorno-Karabakh.

"Many of us were heavily involved in a football tournament [the CONIFA European Football Cup] organised in Nagorno-Karabakh just last [year]. We, as part of the global football community, want to give back to the hosts, Nagorno-Karabakh.

"We celebrated together and now we must also be together for these hard times. We stand in solidarity with Nagorno-Karabakh and every single civilian who cheered us or our brothers and sisters last summer.

"This crowdfunder is for all of you. While we use our global football community to raise awareness and co-ordinate this call, we don't donate to a football team or player here - but to civilians in danger. This cause should concern everyone, globally.

"Thank you for your role in fighting a humanitarian disaster in the making with your contribution. Please spread the word, about this campaign and the horrible war that is already being forgotten."

SIGNATORIES

ORGANISATIONS

Barawa Football Association; Chagos Islands Football Association; International Football Surrey; Football Federation of the Republic of South Ossetia; Matabeleland Football Confederacy; Football Association of Panjab; Pohnpei Soccer Association; Seleção Paulista; Yorkshire International Football Association; Midfield Generals

INDIVIDUALS

Sascha Düerkop; Jens Jockel; Pat. McGuinness; Liam Potter; Séamus Travers; Paul Watson; Noah Wheelock

Albumin, part of a consignment of medicine recently delivered by Kooyrigs to Stepanakert (Photo courtesy of Kooyrigs)

Footy4Artsakh raised almost €1000 via a football-shirt auction which was held last month, and donated the money to Kooyrigs, a female-run Armenian NGO which distributed food, water and blankets to many of those who were left behind in Stepanakert and who were forced to hide in cellars and bomb-shelters. The operation was suspended when the city was almost completely evacuated last month, but, now that Stepanakert is starting to fill up again, slowly but surely, the assistance given by organisations such as Kooyrigs is needed more than ever, due in no small part to the onset of winter.

Mariam Avagyan, one of Kooyrigs’ directors, gave a detailed account to Pat's Football Blog this evening of the work the organisation had done during the conflict, saying that they had organised relief operations in various locations throughout Artsakh, including Stepanakert, Berdzor, Kovsakan and Qarvachar, to name but four.

"During the war, we were regularly shipping several tonnes of food to Stepanakert. While people from Stepanakert were slowly fleeing [the city], people from the nearby villages were gathering in Stepanakert as it had better bunker infrastructure. We regularly shipped food for all those people throughout the war. We were in touch with the Municipality of Stapanakert throughout. They were telling us how many people there were there and how much food they needed. Then, our team would [deliver the food] and make sure that the people got it. We also send 20 tonnes of flour, salt, yeast and oil to bake [enough] bread for one month for all of the people in Stepanakert."

"Regarding the situation now, conditions are very tough, especially for old and vulnerable people. They barely have electricity - it's often gone for 7-8 hours, and it's very cold there. There is no [gas supply],....because all the pipes have been damaged. The internet connection is on and off. One person contacted us from Stepanakert today saying that [the people still living in the city] need food and very basic necessities. A very harsh winter is upon the people of Artsakh."

Avagyan said that Kooyrigs will be delivering aid to Stepanakert in the coming week, and gave a quick run-down of what has been delivered so far, and said that more of the same will be delivered:

"1: Food to Stepanakert: As I mentioned, during the war we constantly sent food to Stepanakert - rice, pasta, beans, fresh vegetables, 20 tonnes of flour, salt, oil, and yeast (enough to bake bread for everyone sheltering in Stepanakert for a month), canned meat, and other fresh and non-perishables. As people of Stepanakert and nearby villages were sheltering in bunkers (children doing schoolwork in bunkers, even women giving birth in bunkers), they had no way of going and getting food on their own. The stores and markets were destroyed.

"2: Medication to Stepanakert and Goris hospitals: We were in direct touch with the Stepanakert and Goris hospitals and delivered medication they asked for. Much of it was blood-loss medication [Albumin] that was life-saving for the wounded civilians as well as soldiers. Other medication sent to people in and from Artsakh included Argosulfan (used for treating burns) diabetes medication, Colchicine, etc. 

"3: Project Mayreeg (support for pregnant women): When delivering winter boots, we noticed many pregnant women did not have warm clothing, food, or access to Doctors. We started a project where we provide pregnant women a box of necessary items 1 month post-partum (baby bottle, diapers, nipple pads, etc), as well as help with finding doctors, appointment assistantship, and medication/vitamins. In our experience, this group was the most vulnerable as most of them had lost either their husbands, brothers, or fathers. We currently have 131 pregnant women from and in Artsakh who are receiving aid.

"4: Support to individual families: Because some families in Artsakh (as well as those who fled Artsakh) were completely isolated, had no transportation, clothes, or shelter, we provided food bags that last 2 months, warm clothing (blankets, winter boots, etc), and medication. This is extremely important because winters are brutal in Armenia and Artsakh, yet some people fled wearing flip-flops and pyjamas. [We will be delivering more ] blankets and winter boots for women and children. There are almost no men left in Stepanakert.

Avagyan thanked those who have donated to Footy4Artsakh, adding, simply: "Your donations literally saved lives."

The Footy4Artsakh campaign has gone rather quiet over the past couple of weeks, but with Christmas and the New Year approaching, the work still goes on in Stepanakert and other parts of Artsakh, mostly unknown and unheralded. The elderly and vulnerable, those who are unable to fend for themselves, still need the support and succour of others. Footy4Artsakh is a non-partisan effort where all monies raised go to those most in need, and there are many of them. Whatever you can give, however little, will go a long way and will be gratefully received. 

The global footballing community has shown that it can come together to make grand gestures. It can also surely come together to make a small one, too, one which will make a big difference to hundreds, maybe thousands of people in a place ignored and unheard of by many.

To donate to Footy4Artsakh via PayPal, kindly copy and paste the link below:

https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=PVYKJNMW3M3QL&Z3JncnB0=

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AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many thanks to Mariam Avagyan, director of Kooyrigs, for her contribution to the above article (and her patience).


 



 


Thursday, December 10, 2020

THE PAT'S FOOTBALL BLOG BLOGGING AWARDS

Ten years ago last month, Pat's Football Blog first saw the light of day. A lot has happened in that time. Not much here, admittedly, but in the weird and occasionally world of social media, and not least of all in that tiny corner of social media saved for football blogger. Ten years is a long time in blogging, it would appear; for many and varied reasons, most of the blogs around when PFB was created no longer exist.

But, some are still around in a social media environment full of bells and whistles, podcasts and vlogs, many of which feature (groups of) individuals with little original to say, but who charge monthly subscriptions to fans of particular clubs, and who will pompously come down heavily on anyone who dares go against their opinion. I should know. I've been on the receiving end more than once. Some of those at the forefront of this new media were once bloggers, too, you know.

A number of years ago, the Football Blogging Awards were born, something to reward individuals writing blogs of quality. In the intervening years, bloggers have been pretty much cast aside in favour of podcasters, vloggers and "content creators", whatever they are. 

It is time for bona-fide bloggers to fight back, I say. Now, I'm far from being the best blogger the world (or, probably, even my street) has ever created, nor would I ever claim to be. Compared to some bloggers who continue to write, I don't have many followers, and I'm comfortable with that. But, I feel sorry for those bloggers who write articles of substance but are left out in the cold, struggling to make their voices heard, so to speak.

So, to a little idea which has been on my mind for some time: why hasn't anybody created an all-new set of blogging awards for those who, above all, want to write? Well, welcome to the Pat's Football Blog Blogging Awards, a one-off event with no physical awards or trophies, but more a chance for bloggers to become acquainted with each others' work, a chance for them to find new audiences (and vice-versa), to showcase their work, plus, of course, the extremely dubious kudos of winning a Pat's Football Blog Blogging Award. (And, I'm always interested in reading new, original stories.)

I sat down and tried to work out some categories in my own, inimitably and admittedly unprofessional, manner, and the below list is what I've come up with.

CATEGORIES

General

UK and Ireland Non-league 

Women's Football

Groundhopping

International interest (blogs concentrating on football outside the UK/Ireland)

Non-English language

New blogs (created since 1 January 2020)

Walking Football

Subbuteo

Football Shirts

Non-FIFA/Minnows (especially created for those with a love for football in the smaller countries of the world)


RULES

It's my little creation, so I make the rules. That's the first rule. I'll try and give as much leeway as possible, but if you would like to nominate blogs, please make sure that you nominate one blog per category. You can still nominate a blog for more than one category, but kindly make your choices clear, whatever they may be. 

For example, if I was to nominate my own blog - you can nominate your own blog, you know, don't be shy - I would nominate it for General, International interest and Non-FIFA/Minnows. It would be a bit silly if you nominate yourself for a category when you might have only written one article on the subject, though!

So, please bear in mind that these "awards" are meant for those who cherish and use the written word, and for them only. If you're a vlogger or podcaster, you've missed your chance. The FCAs were a couple of days ago. Subscription sites will not be considered as blogs; if you demand monthly subscription fees, you're no longer a blog. You're a business.

DO'S AND DONT'S 

PLAY ON

✅ Written blogs only

✅Photos and short films of a particular match or event you've attended can be included in a blog, but without commentary

✅Everyone is welcome to nominate as many or as few blogs as they see fit, but only one blog per category per person, please. If someone else nominates the same blog as you, well, it shows you might have good taste in blogs, but you've wasted a nomination.. If you nominate two blogs for the same category, the second-named blog will be dropped, regardless of whether or not it has already been nominated..

✅Blogs about women's football, LGBT football, walking football and kids' football are more than welcome. Blogs written by women and members of the LGBT community, too, of course!

✅Long-form, short-form or anything in between

✅Blogs written in a language other than English are also welcome, but must be reasonably easily translatable via Google Translate. They will go into the Non-English language section.

✅You can nominate your own blog

✅Check the list of those already nominated before you decide to nominate someone!


RED CARD OFFENCES

❌Podcasts (also if you're mainly a written blog, but use podcasts here and there)

❌Vlogs (see Podcasts)

❌Subscription sites

❌Champions League

❌Europa League

❌Major football leagues (think EPL, Football League, La Ligue, Bundesliga, La Liga, Brazil, Argentina and so on)

❌Blogs on clubs

❌Blogs on individual players

❌E-football

❌Blogs on betting

❌Blogs purporting extreme views, whether political (left or right), racial or (ir-)religious

❌Sexism

❌Homophobia

❌Don't nominate two blogs for the same category; only the first-named will be accepted, and then only if not already nominated. The second-named nomination will automatically be refused.

If only one blog has been nominated for a particular category, no award will be made for said category. I'm not expecting thirty nominations per category, but at least two per category would be a good start! The winners will be determined by public vote on Twitter; there won't be semi-finals or anything like that. If you're going to vote for a particular blog, it won't matter who the other blogs will be.

I'll put a list of nominated blogs up every day until next Thursday night, when nominations will close and voting can begin.

Kindly pass on your nominations via a Twitter DM only. Nominations made below a tweet or in a thread are no longer being accepted after 12 December.

I'll probably end up making more rules up as I go along, which adds to the fun. Don't take all of this too seriously; I've never done anything like this before, and it's all terribly ad hoc. Regardless, there will hopefully be a decent amount of nominations from across (most of) the football spectrum, and something new blog-wise for all of us to read and enjoy this Christmas. Spread the word, brothers and sisters, and show some love for your local (and not-so-local) bloggers..

 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL IN ZAMBIA

In a world beset by problems, many of which are currently being caused by the Corona virus, life goes on as best it can, though for a great many people living in poverty in various locations across the globe, the virus only exacerbates their daily grind. One such place is the southern Zambian city of Livingstone, situated just a couple of miles from the Zimbabwean border and the world-famous Victoria Falls. Despite the fact that the Victoria Falls are on the city's doorstep, many of the city's 143000 people live perilously close to, if not well under, the poverty line.

However, a number of NGOs are operating in Zambia's Southern Province, of which Livingstone is the capital, one of which is New Hope Waves, a Zambian-registered non-profit organisation which is doing its best to raise some of Livingstone's poorest inhabitants out of poverty, and their spirits, too, with football playing a role in the latter.

The man behind the organisation is 37-year-old Auldridge Chibbwalu, a social worker trained in Developmental Studies, both locally and abroad, and who has created and run a number of community programmes aimed principally at children, young people and their wider family-circles. According to Chibbwalu, New Hope Waves "is working to empower the local communities with skills, knowledge and opportunities to improve their livelihood, health, education and protecting their environment."

But what of the organisation itself, and its name? Chibbwalu: "The name New Hope Waves comes from the desire to create “New Hope”, and “Waves” comes from momentum (water movement)  aimed at the vulnerable communities which are characterized by poverty, illiteracy, disease and which need to [obtain] the skills, knowledge and opportunities to empower themselves to [live] with dignity."

New Hope Waves has been as good as its word right from the start, and works with all age groups to not only ensure that school-age youngsters receive a proper education, but that the elderly are assisted. Auldridge: "In 2015, we decided to register this movement as an NGO (non-profit organization) in Zambia, then started working with schools to assign some volunteers who would teach mainly in community schools, train the kids in football activities and also work with [a local] old people's home..We have even partnered with other international organizations to engage young people in fine arts, digital storytelling, prevention of gender based violence, inter-cultural exchange activities and an  environmental care programme.

"After I acquired the necessary education and training, I had some opportunities to travel and work for a number of non-profit organizations both locally and internationally. Then, I was inspired to come up with activities in the community to keep children and young people involved. Later, I started some football and life skills programs for both girls and boys to keep them away from drug and illicit activities in their vulnerable communities, and these grew with the help of both local and international volunteers.

"In 2019, we started a school for vulnerable children from the ages of 4-15 years old whose parents cannot manage to take them to normal school due to lack of school fees so we have 100 students in our school.

"Most of the project`s areas is to help the under-30s who are our major focus, and for those [over the age of 30] we just try to offer a hand to make our approach to be more holistic."

One example of this holistic approach is the work carried out by a  number of the organisation's volunteers at an old people's home, which is also based in Livingstone. Many of those staying at the home are originally from small rural communities in the Livingstone area, but ended up in the city because they had no family and so were unable to look after themselves.

 "The volunteers work there for two to three hours per day, five days a week," says Chibbwalu. The volunteers do not stay there overnight, but instead stay at our rented volunteer house and we have different people that sign up to volunteer. Some of them are professional care-givers and the rest are non-professional helpers. Many of the volunteers assist at meal-times, while others help out with personal grooming and hygiene." 

New Hope Waves also tackles societal problems such as gender equality, violence in the home and assists the local LGBT community where possible. Chibbwalu says that the organisation runs a number of gender equality courses aimed at raising the issues our communities are facing, such as gender based violence in homes and child abuse, and we are able to help the LGBT community as it is a very sensitive legal and moral issue here in Zambia."

"We are able to help the local LGBT community by opening up our activities to them all to participate. The problem is that they suffer from discrimination and a lack of support, so we need to raise awareness of their plight, and also of their right, like any other human being, to access services, resources and opportunities."

Auldridge also spoke about the problems faced by women the length and breadth of Zambia; in many cases, a woman's lot is far from a happy one, but his organisation are taking steps to change that.

 "Apart from [domestic] violence, women here face challenges such as unwanted pregnancies, early marriages, gender inequality, child abuse - child defilement is on the rise - mental and sexual abuse. Negligence in the family [is also a problem] as some families cannot support their extended family's children."

This has led to a growing number of children having to take to the streets in order to fend for themselves; others end up leaving school, or receive no formal education at all, and eventually have to work in order to support their families. Still others find themselves becoming the head of the household.

"A number of children cannot go to schools as their families cannot afford to pay their school fees, so the children - mostly girls - drop out of school. There is a lack of employment prospects for senior boys and girls between the ages of 16 and 25, so we intend to provide vocational skills to empower them to have hands-on skills to make them employable [or to start their own businesses] to earn enough money to support their lives now and to give them a bright future."

Inevitably, some people are falling through the safety net that New Hope Waves is trying to provide, as Chibbwalu explained. "We had some adult education courses in the past, but due to a lack of resources and funding, we are currently unable to offer any. We have also helped some of those [living locally] who are physically and mentally disabled, but due to limited funding and resources, we are [currently] unable to continue down that path. But, we are ready to do so whenever we have partners who might come on board with the materials and resources to help us."

A lack of funds is also hampering Chibbwalu and his organisation's attempts to purchase premises where they can not only offer an education to school-age youngsters, but also vocational training and a place where women, LGBT and other groups can meet in safety; they have their eye on a particular building which would serve their needs, but they must raise some US$20000 in order to buy it, so donations would be very welcome indeed.

New Hope Waves even hope to host football training-sessions at the proposed new location and, should they succeed in purchasing the building they have set their heart on, they will need all the room they can get. According to Auldridge, "we have more than 200 boys and girls involved in our football programs and we have six people involved in teaching/coaching. All six are local volunteers who have the passion to coach, and to have a positive impact on the lives of young people. At the moment, we do not have any coaches coming from abroad to help."

The organisation has a number of teams, mostly for males as there is no local youth league for girls under the age of thirteen. But, there is a New Hope Waves adult women's team and a team for girls aged between 13 and 17, in addition to a adult men's team; both senior teams cater for players aged between 17 and 25. Around 150 young people play in the New Hope Waves teams. All of the teams play in kit which has been donated or sold to the organisation at a large discount.

Chibbwalu explained: "We have a senior boys team playing in the local SPAFA (Southern Province Amateur Football Association) Super League, which has more than 20 local teams in the urban and rural areas in and around Livingstone. The team was founded in 2016, and we currently have about 35 boys in the squad, but the season was suspended to due to Covid-19 in March.

"We do not have a stable source for the football kits, they were donated by individuals once in a while and sometimes when we have funds, we buy them (good new or used kits), and so we are currently in need of football kits to use for the season that restarted in the last week for the senior team." The SPAFA Super League may have restarted, but the New Hope Waves side had to sit out the first weekend back after an eight-month hiatus as their opponents had to request a postponement. The local women's season is yet to resume, meanwhile.


"We are playing some football matches at the Namatama Primary School Football Ground in Maramba, a district of Livingstone. Our football plans are to engage more girls and boys in our programmes, to get more soccer equipment and also to make our teams to play in the higher professional leagues. We want to to support these young people to achieve more in their social, academic and professional lives, and the football team to have a good financial base so that it can support our all football activities such as transport (buying a club bus) for players for games, match officiating, affiliation fees and administration costs, etc."

To do that, they will need outside help, as times are no less hard in Zambia than they are anywhere else, and the majority of the population are far from well-off. But, Auldridge Chibbwalu and the rest of the team involved in New Hope Waves are nothing if not driven; they started off with the hopes and dreams of one man and they have come a long way since then. With a bit of luck - and some outside assistance - they may yet come to fruition.

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AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many thanks to Auldridge ChibbWalu for his kind assistance with the above article, and for his corrections and additions. To donate to New Hope Waves, or to find out more about the work they do and their aims and objectives, kindly visit their website via the following link:

https://www.newhopewaves.org/

All photographs are published with the kind permission of New Hope Waves, and written consent was kindly given to use those photographs containing under-age footballers. Anyone wishing to use said photographs is requested to contact New Hope Waves via the above website.