So, in a little over 2 weeks Lionsraw, our amazing volunteers and the cream of European football will land in France for the latest edition of the European Championships and of course, the Lionsraw Legacy Tour. While the tournament will be played the width and breadth of France, Lionsraw will focus on the beautiful city of Marseille.
We say beautiful city, it is to the casual observer, but take a little time to dig a little deeper, go out of your way to ask questions, to be inquisitive and you’ll discover a city built on tough, often violent neighbourhoods, armed conflict among youth gangs, fractured communities, religious tension, organised crime and ineffective policing.
Despite this or maybe even because of this, there are some wonderful community leaders who want something different, they want chances for a better future, they’re demanding connected community, cohesion, tolerance, equal opportunities and safe space for daily living. Several of the leaders we are working with in Marseille joined us in Curitiba where they gave their time and energy to bring the hope they now speak of for themselves, to a community in another country on the other side of the world, they understand now, that change is possible with a shared vision, common attitude and a simple plan.
What will we be doing in Marseille?
We will have volunteers working with children of special needs, some physical and some mental, our expert coaches in this field are providing a daily exercise, cultural exchange and friendship programme which will touch the minority who might normally have a major event like the Euros pass them by, we want them to remember that when Europe’s elite came to town, that a bunch of football fans came and really cared and invested in us, we want to shape their future in a positive way. We will work in neighbourhoods effected by fighting through conflict resolution methodology and self referees sport aimed at learning new ways to handle differences in attitude and belief, we want to see an end of communities separated by belief and brought together in understanding and tolerance of one another.
There will be a community transformation building project that will see a new 4G pitch, children’s play area, a shaded area for senior community members to play chess, a picnic area and space for youths to meet safely, the aim of this project is to provide cohesion and shared space that everyone can be proud of, that the community can own and thrive in.
This is just the start, the Women’s World Cup will be in France in 2019 and we have a strategic plan to connect the projects we’ve been working on this year to establish a dedicated Marseille team.
Chances for change…
Lionsraw don’t expect to see these changes over night, but we do expect to see more leaders take up the challenge to impact change, we do expect the community to grasp this chance with the help of our partners and we most definitely expect the young and the passionate to step forward, join in and grow into the future of Marseille. We aren’t waiving a magic wand, we are investing in trusted individuals and projects that already have a vision for change and helping them achieve what we all want.
It is very sad to say, but in all the places that Lionsraw have visited and worked it is always the children that are most at risk, from Durban to Marseille it is the children, their safety and future that drives all we do. We want to create chances for change in the lives of young people, we want you to help, join us, donate to us, offer us your professional services, volunteer, give, help…not only will you be helping us achieve our goals but you might just take a little away for you, these kids often teach us so much!