Life

Why I Quit the Best Job in the World

Why I Quit the Best Job in the World

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some amazing people throughout my career. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with some great social initiatives in some far flung places. My first trip to Africa was to Namibia in 2006 where we participated in Street Football tournament that culminated with a bunch of kids playing the finals in the National Stadium. After that I got a chance to help with an Organization called Street Football World and we delivered a Street Football Tournament in Bosnia a country that had been ravaged by war. We saw all the bullet holes in buildings from the Bosnian War. It was eye opening.

Bosnia

 

On these trips and on other things I’ve done, I have seen first hand how sport, specifically football can change lives. Whether its Namibia, Bosnia, Southampton or right here at MYSA in Nairobi. Sport can change lives significantly. Football is a language.

I first met Mike Geddes through a BBC Community based football program called “Your Game” and he is one of the most passionate advocates of using Football to build bridges. He had a comfortable job at the BBC where we were both working at the time and he gave it all up, i’ll allow him to tell you his story.

“Without football I would have never got out of here. Without football I would be dead.”

 

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The kid’s bright yellow uniform stood out in stark contrast from our surroundings – a stinking, smoking wasteland of filth and garbage that extended in all directions. He wiped tears away as he spoke; “I don’t want to think back to the time when I lived here”.

We were standing in the middle of a rubbish dump in Hulene, on the outskirts of Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. I was there to make a documentary for the BBC and we were fascinated by the story of ‘Futescola’, a project that combines football and education for some of the poorest kids in the city.

Two of those kids offered to take us on a tour of their life before Futescola, which is how we ended up ankle-deep in refuse listening to a boy of 16 talk about how he used to make a living collecting scraps of garbage to sell and eat. Now he had a new life – thanks to football.

Of course we all love this kind of story. The rags-to-riches fairytale is one of the oldest in the book; whether you think of Michael Essien playing barefoot in Ghana, Luka Modric learning the game in a refugee camp or Steven Pienaar doing likewise in a South African township. Brazil in particular, from Garrincha to Ronaldinho, has made it into an industry.

But the sad truth is that for every one who makes it there are thousands – hundreds of thousands – of youngsters who are just as passionate, even just as skillful, but for whom the challenges are just too great. I once interviewed Steven Pienaar’s old coach at Ajax Cape Town who told me of a teammate they identified as the better prospect than the future Everton star – but who drifted into a local gang and ended up dead in a knife-fight at the age of 17.

The young man who wore his bright Futescola jersey so proudly was never going to be a professional football player – not even close – though that was all he dreamed about night and day. But more and more organizations are now using the power of that dream to inspire, engage, cajole, even near-bribe young men and women from some of the world’s toughest communities into educational programs – and keep them there.

That day on the rubbish dump in Hulene was something of a turning point for me, too. All things considered I had things pretty good – as a sports journalist I got to watch and talk about football for a living, which for a boy from the North of England is as close to perfect a job as you can dare to wish for. But that day in Mozambique I started to think about another football, a football far away from the multi-million dollar deals, the lucrative endorsements, the WAGs and the stupid haircuts, a football that had real power.

From then on I was obsessed. I made documentaries about football teaching children how to avoid landmines in Cambodia, practice safe sex in Lesotho, stay off the streets in Istanbul, clean up pollution in Nairobi and many more. To get me closer I quit my perfect job and joined streetfootballworld.

Now I look forward to opening more eyes to the incredible power of football through the third half: a new social enterprise that allows you to set off on international, football-themed adventures to incredible locations and leave a legacy of lasting impact. This is your chance to go beyond traditional travel and use the game for cultural and educational transformation. This is your chance to travel, play football and change the world.

the third half is driven by the belief that football is more than ‘a game of two halves’. It’s about more than two teams. It means more than winning and losing.

Each third half experience uses the medium of the game to take you on an educational journey. We want you to see what life is like through the eyes of your hosts. You will visit exciting tourist attractions with trusted local guides, experience exotic cuisine and customs and make new friends both on and off the field. And you will gain unique insights into the challenges the world faces and how we can solve them together as global citizens.

I hope you’ll join us for the journey.

Mike Geddes

Managing director at streetfootballworld and COO at the third half

If you’re a traveler or a local community organisation and would like to find out more about how you can join the third half: email mike@thirdhalfsoccer.com

All the best Mike!

 

Jedi Master T

February 8th, 2016

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