Tuesday 17 December 2019, 10:20

Red Deporte making a difference through football 

  • Red Deporte is an NGO partly funded by the FIFA Foundation

  • Promotes education, health and integration through sport, particularly football

  • Samuel Eto’o visited one of Red Deporte’s programmes in Cameroon this year

Football has a remarkable ability to bring about social change – and Red Deporte y Cooperacion is using the power of the beautiful game to help underprivileged youths around the world.

Having worked in 20 countries, but currently focused on programmes in Spain, Cameroon and Zambia, Red Deporte has helped 200,000 young people over the last 20 years – promoting education, health and integration through football-inspired initiatives.

From health in the community programmes in Africa to youth employability in Spain, Red Deporte is committed to empowering young people and the NGO receives funding from the FIFA Foundation to help with their work.

"Children and young people are naturally attracted to football. It's a sport they really enjoy and everyone can play anywhere in the world," said Carlos de Cárcer, Founder and Managing Director of Red Deporte, in conversation with FIFA.com. "Playing football is not only fun but mentally stimulating and it plays a huge role in spreading positive messages to young people."

Fútbol Emotion Red Deporte

Earlier this year, Red Deporte hosted a very special guest at their initiative in Yaounde, Cameroon which was delivering sport, social services and education programmes to refugees affected by civil conflict in neighbouring Central African Republic.

Indomitable Lions legend Samuel Eto’o took part in a technical and educational session with the young refugees, which focused on gender equality, health and environmental awareness through football.

"What does football mean to Cameroon? Football is a religion," the four-time FIFA World Cup™ star said during the visit. "The power of football is unlimited. Together we must use this opportunity to raise more issues to help people feel integrated."

"Players like Samuel Eto’o are so important when it comes to inspiring," said de Cárcer. "He’s a hero and role model to these children, so the lessons and positive messages he conveys have a much greater impact. The younger the children are, the greater that impact is on them."

Whether teaching valuable lessons to combat malaria, HIV and AIDS in Africa or increasing the employability chances of those in Spain, Red Deporte is committed to changing the lives of young people for the better through football – and the initiative has worked with major footballing names in the past such as Zinedine Zidane, Guti, Predrag Mijatovic and more.

Red Deporte is one of 93 organisations across the globe that have benefited from the FIFA Foundation’s financial support in 2019, in which social initiatives – including peace-building, refugees, leadership, gender equality and more – have used the power of football to generate positive change.

"As an organisation, we’ve learned to be as financially efficient as possible but ultimately, we need funding to be able to operate," said de Cárcer. "The funding we receive from organisations like the FIFA Foundation is crucial for us and it’s important that it’s coming from the world of sport. It’s important to create a strong relationship between sport and social organisations."

As another calendar year nears its end, Red Deporte’s work through sport – and football – doesn’t stop, and the organisation, which was formed in 1999, already has an eye on 2020.

“Next year, we really want to consolidate our health in the community programmes through sport in Africa while in Spain, we want to increase our employability programmes and deter young people from drugs and alcohol abuse," said de Cárcer.

As they have done for two decades, Red Deporte will continue to make a difference in the lives of young people in Spain, Cameroon and Zambia with a little help from the beautiful game.