News Live Scores

'Their Beautiful Game': The charity that helps disadvantaged communities play football

08:33 EAT 08/12/2017
Their Beautiful Game
An Australian charity is making waves overseas in helping the less fortunate to play the game they love

Football - it’s known as the beautiful game, the world game, because it is a sport for all and a game that brings people together from all walks of life, from across all countries and continents.

One particular charity based in Sydney, Australia wants to ensure everyone who wants to participate in the world’s most popular game can do so.

Their Beautiful Game was started in 2009 by then high school teacher David Oswell with the aim of giving people from disadvantaged communities the opportunity to play football.

Manchester-born Oswell was inspired to set up a way for footballers from around the world to donate equipment they no longer needed to those less fortunate when on a volunteer trip to Ghana.

"When I saw the conditions people were playing football in when I was over (in Ghana) - I was working at a few football clubs and schools, and players had to share boots, all the boots were literally falling apart at the seams, or there were people playing bare footed," Oswell said. 

"The balls were falling apart as well. Obviously when I saw that I knew there was potential to help these people out over the long term."

Upon returning from Ghana, Oswell showed photos of the recipients and their new equipment to the various donors and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

Providing feedback to donors about where there donations go has become a key principle for TBG .

Since the formation of the not-for-profit organisation, they have donated equipment such as boots, balls, shin pads, goalkeeper gloves, and even team kits and goal posts have been received as far and wide as Ghana, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Tanazania, India, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia and Brazil.

Over 3000 pairs of boots and 500 footballs have been donated, among countless amounts of gloves and shin pads as well.

Despite the success, TBG has helped people in difficult circumstances follow their dreams of playing football, regardless of their ability or level.

Oswell has high hopes for his charity and looks forward to doing more work at home in Australia as well.

"I’d like to expand, not only the amount of football boots we receive, but the scope of people we can support. Whether that is working in different countries or working with different football projects within those countries we are already established in," he said. 

"I’d like to do a lot more work in Australia with Indigenous communities, do a lot more work with football programs for refugees, and certainly with the homeless as well."

TBG recently helped to kit out the Street Socceroos who participated in the Homeless World Cup in Oslo, Norway during late August and early September.

They provided team kits, tracksuits, training kits, boots and balls to help the side on their journey through the World Cup.

After some conversations with the organisers, Oswell and TBG  were able to provide full Australian playing uniforms and tracksuits for the players and support staff, as well as providing boots and balls for the players to use.

Not only are TBG doing great work to help out footballers all over the world but they are also working hard at home in Australia providing help and support in indigenous communities.

"We go down to the national indigenous football championships, about three hours south of Sydney, we’re there with our stand and any indigenous players who can’t afford a pair of boots or require a new pair of boots, we are there to help them out. So the progress has been good with indigenous communities as well," Oswell said.

TBG relies on the generosity of the public and anyone can donate gear they no longer require.

Donations have come from people all over Australia and particularly those involved with clubs and schools, as well as some partnerships with sporting stores that offer discounts to customers who trade in some of their old gear that is still in good condition.

Some more well-known donors include the likes of Western Sydney Wanderers star Brendon Santalab and Sydney FC’s Brandon O’Neill - as well as Matildas’ goalkeeper Lydia Williams.

The recipients of these donations are certainly getting an extra kick when they find out where their new gear has come from!

While TBG donates gear to players of all ability levels and from any background, there is one particular recipient who has gone on to bigger and better things since receiving his first pair of boots through the Australian charity.

Ebenezer Kudulo from Ghana went on to trial for European heavyweights Juventus and Ajax before settling in the US College system and made the US All Star College Soccer Team as well as being named as one of the Top 100 Freshmen sports stars in the country.

Stories like this and the smiles on the faces of those who receive football gear from TBG makes it all worthwhile for Oswell – knowing their hard work goes a long way towards helping people who are less fortunate follow their football dreams and emulate their idols around the world.

He says it is equally rewarding to see the impact it has on the donors as well.

"Obviously giving the boots to whoever is really in need (is the most rewarding aspect) but also seeing the kind of satisfaction on people’s faces when they receive the pictures back of who their donations have gone to. That’s equally rewarding for me," he said.

Even the likes of A-League star O’Neill have sent Oswell messages saying how much of a positive impact seeing photos of people receiving their donations have had on them.

Like every not-for-profit organisation, TBG  faces challenges, and Oswell says for his charity the main issues surround exposure and funding.

"Because we are a relatively new charity one of the major challenges for us is just getting our name out there and letting people know we exist. And then of course raising the funds we need to be able to do what we do is probably the biggest hurdle, " he said.

He hopes to establish more corporate partnerships with organisations whose values align with TBG in future to help overcome the funding issue and continue the amazing work his charity does all over the world.

Over the last eight years or so TBG has been able to help improve the lives of people less fortunate in several countries all through the beautiful game of football.

The hard work of David Oswell and his team has brought smiles to the faces of many young people by helping them play the game they love no matter what their background, socio-economic situation or ability.

Football is the beautiful game and it is the world game, which makes it the perfect medium to help improve the lives of others.

If you want to help out or donate some football gear to help people around the world you can do so by going to www.theirbeautifulgame.org or getting in touch with David Oswell at david@theirbeautifulgame.org.