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Opinions of Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Columnist: Derrick Agyenim-Boateng

How soccer lounge began

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Soccer Lounge, primarily, is a project where users of social media come together to take part in their favourite sport to help raise funds for under-privileged kids and street mother.

The whole concept of the event came about after a friendly playing session at the Lizzy's Sports Complex. We suggested that we could get a few other people on social media to come join us for a kickabout. Once we saw a high turnout in the first training session, we thought we could build a project out of it; where disadvantaged children rights are realised and they're encouraged to reach their full potential.

Why Soccer Lounge was created

The majority of us that played in that training session have never really been burdened with the weight of homelessness. We've never had to experience what it is like to have to spend our days rummaging through other people's garbage for scraps of leftover food to feed our family, and to spend our nights looking for a dry place to rest.

We thought it would be great using the "Soccer Lounge" brand to provide people with the opportunity to glimpse into these children’s lives, to touch their hearts, and to change their futures. We are well aware that change doesn't happen overnight, but by making the decision to help change the lives of these children, people not only give them a home and a family, they give them the opportunity to beat the odds and become successful doctors, parents, teachers, and members of society.

According to statistics released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, Ghana currently has over 1 million orphans and the number continues to grow.

It is in this vein that we're striving to rebuild lives and restore hope and as well as enabling orphaned and deprived children to meet their basic needs and to increase their ability to participate in and benefit from their society. Poor families and children will be taken care of and their self-esteem improved.

Outstanding story from the people we have helped

Yes, we've had a lot of amazing tales from the people we've helped. As it stands, we're working on putting all the stories of the lives that we've touched into a PDF file that we can share with the world. It'll be named; "The Orphan's Tales: In the eyes of Soccer Lounge."

Many orphanages in Ghana are interested in receiving a donation of clothes, food, books, stationery, etc. But many of these same orphanages are not prepared - or interested - in providing the disciplined program necessary to help increase the likelihood that a genuine impact will be made in the lives of the orphan children using these materials.

Are the books and stationery primed to become an educational priority of the orphanage? Does the orphanage leadership believe in education and discipline and want to see the children succeed? If it is the orphanage staff who will be running the program, has the staff been adequately trained to run the daily program and run it well?

Is Soccer Lounge prepared to offer the individual orphanages the support they require to achieve success? These are the questions we strive to answer through our project. But not just us. Collectively, we can do more. Sustainability is about involving all stakeholders. When all stakeholders, especially those in the community and at the government level, are committed —beyond external funding — their commitment can improve the systems that help reduce vulnerability and reach more people

Challenges with Soccer Lounge

Our biggest challenge has been funding. We seek to join our efforts with sponsors, who through their corporate social responsibilities are dedicated to improving the future of the most disadvantaged children and street mother. We're also pleading with the general public to support our project!

We do not believe that by simply donating these materials to orphanages we will magically help each child to be successful.

But we do believe that with the right balance of fun and challenge, mentoring, encouragement and discipline - as well as a carefully planned curriculum and properly trained teachers, we can begin to help the children develop many of the crucial skills they are currently missing to be prepared for today's fast moving and tech-focused society. With each new orphanage partner, we try to ensure the orphanage leadership is interested in working with us to help work towards these goals.

There are many ways to help us support the poor and needy and it's only through your generosity, commitment and enthusiasm that we are able to help thousands of people each year.

The way forward for Soccer Lounge

We want to make Soccer Lounge a bigger brand. Our vision is to one day help build and facilitate a self-sustaining community consisting of a children’s home, school, training center, women’s shelter, elderly person’s home, clinic, library and other facilities that help a community to succeed.

When we started in 2013, our motivation was to support the children who need our help. Children are at the center of everything we do and for us children are put before processes.

We will strive to work with children; and not just for children but also poor families. Children, who are deprived of the guidance and protection of their primary caregivers, are more vulnerable to health risks, violence, exploitation and discrimination and they are often deprived of education.