Development Through Football Program (DTFP)

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Development Through Football Program (DTFP)

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

DTFP establishes a network of village football clubs with a central recreation center in a Chiefdom's primary village. Each village club runs an afterschool program that provides children with sports recreational activities. Children must attend school to participate in the club network. Club managers also maintain the village recreation facilities and fields and help run the community kitchen to provide lunch for students.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The primary focus area for the DTFP is to increase the quality of education for Liberia’s youths by extending and improving their education through afterschool educational and youth & sports programs to provide incentives to improve reading and writing skills, health care and prevention, community environmental education and conservation. Liberia today is a country lacking the literacy and vocational skills necessary for it to compete in today’s global economy. In Monrovia, the capitol and primary city of the country, 1.5 million people crowd its urban corridor, sixty percent of them under the age of 28, 75% of the total population illiterate. In Ganta, the second most populated city in the northern county of Nimba, 55,000 people endure with not even a hint of a bookstore. The immediate result is that very few people, especially children, read. In Liberia, as the locals say, “if you want to hide the truth [or information] put it on paper.” Liberians are left powerless, victims of a lack of quality education that eventually translates to a lack of vocational skill, competitiveness, and opportunity. Liberian youths are caught in a vicious poverty cycle.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The DTFP is part of a Sustainable Village Initiative (SVI). Villages organize a football club community or network that focuses on youth sports and development through afterschool programs tied to education participation. A community kitchen is organized and each village provides food to the kitchen for daily meals for the village children. The Village club managers, community kitchen staff, and teachers are supported by community agro-business profits and each village is responsible for paying into the program, making it sustainable. DFTP strengthens education by incentivizing attendance by providing meals to students, and running after school programs for girls and boys of all ages so that children have a safe and monitored place to go after school to continue their education and participate in organized youth sports and recreation. DFTP partner organizations such as ASU’s Stardust Center, are designing sustainable recreation centers that will be the centerpiece of the community. The recreation center will have solar power and a library where children and adults can continue their education long after sundown. Village sports clubs organize to participate in community development, such as picking up trash, collecting wood, helping maintain community gardens (that supply food to the community kitchen), and engaging in community mapping with GPS devices and laptop computers supplied by DFTP program partners. These activities help the children learn about their local environment, GPS systems, computer literacy, community conservation, and natural resource management. The children, with the help of their teachers and partners at the University (and the School of Sustainability), create community maps that help the community create sustainable strategies for their future development and qualify the community for conservation programs, thus benefiting the entire community.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

DFTP has already had a tremendous impact. ESI approached the Gbehyi Chiefdom in Nimba County, Liberia with the idea for DFTP. They quickly nominated club managers for each of the thirteen villages in the Chiefdom, half of which are women. ASU Stardust Center is currently designing the recreational center and the ECOSA Institute for Sustainability in Prescott, AZ is designing the community kitchen and organic community garden for the project. Envirofit International of Boulder, Colorado, is supplying highly efficient cookstoves for the communities that will cut Indoor Air Pollution by 80% and help decrease deforestation by over 50%. Additionally football clubs from around the U.S. have partnered with the DTFP to supply the program with sporting uniforms and equipment for the initial phase of the project and FEDEX is offering a 75% discount to ship the equipment to Liberia. Finally, ESI donated several GPS units and laptops for the schools so that the children can engage in community mapping exercises, working with ASU’s SOS partners to develop community maps and engage in spatial planning for their sustainable growth strategies. The students will help mark of areas of the community designated for conservation as a precursor for the community to apply for UN REDD financing for community-based natural resource management programs. These activities are all designed into the DFTP afterschool programs where one or two days each week, the children organize into community activities and on the remaining days, simply play sports, chess, checkers, kickball, or simply play, relax, and read.
About You
Empowerment Society International (ESI)
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Section 1: About You
First Name


Last Name



Empowerment Society International (ESI)


, NB

Section 2: About Your Organization
Organization Name

Empowerment Society International (ESI)

Organization Phone

+1 (602) 538-2638

Organization Address

Tempe, AZ USA

Organization Country

, AZ, Maricopa County

Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, NB

Do you have a patent for this idea?


To combat illiteracy and the vicious poverty cycle, DFTP is organizing afterschool programs and youth recreation and development around football. Football is the beloved sport of everyone in the community and a passion that community can rally around. Families will want their children to participate and will send them to school. Village members will contribute to the program to support their club teams and will be their biggest fans rooting for their success. The children will have an organized and monitored place to go after school that will have books and youth activities for them to engage in. The children will engage in community development, helping to map the community using GPS and laptops, developing community maps, cataloguing the tremendous flora and fauna and biodiversity of their communities. The children will also help at the community kitchen and garden, learning about organic agriculture, how their food is prepared,washing hands and good hygiene, as well as delivering the food to schools at lunchtime in a rotating system. DTFP allows students to focus on their education while simultaneously helping them engage and become active members of their community.


DFTP affects the Gbehyi Chiefdom’s population of 15,000 individuals. Half of the populations are women and girls, and 65% of the population is composed of young adults and youths. As previously mentioned, DTFP has organized 13 village sport clubs and nominated, half of which are women. DFTP is focused on getting young girls into school and after school programs and activities integrate all aspects of female education and youth development including girl football teams and kickball, popular with girls in this area. Many girls in the community are kept from school to help prepare lunchtime meals or collect firewood and do household chores. DFTP’s cookstove decreases meal preparation time and the amount of wood needed increasing the probability that the young girls can attend school; the community kitchen provides lunchtime meals for the students; an incentive for sending the children and girls to school; the kitchen creates additional revenue for women who staff the kitchen and maintain the community gardens that provide the food. DFTP recognizes the importance of educating all children, but especially girls, since educated girls improve development indicators.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

Success will ultimately be evaluated on DTFP’s ability to increase educational opportunities for children in our partner communities. We are currently in year 1 and at the organizational phase. We have already seen much success by holding community workshops and stakeholder meetings between the community and former Liberia Football Association (LFA) head George Williams. We are currently talking with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Youth & Sports to see if we can receive financial support and equipment for our demonstration project with the assumption that if it is successful, it can be scaled-up throughout the country. We are speaking with Liberia’s Telecommunication Authority and Cellcom Phone Company to get internet access to the recreations center. We previously mentioned the efforts of Stardust, ECOSA, Envirofit Intl, and ESI to help design the community’s master plan and structures. Additionally, we need technical support from LFA and FIFA to train the village club managers on how to organize youth sports and recreation and to maintain football fields and facilities and provide them the tools to do so. Finally, the agricultural financing is in place to provide small funds to agricultural livelihood programs that will generate revenue to support the program in the future. Year 2 will involve finalizing the structure of activities, curriculum, and schedule of the various afterschool activities and sports programs. The program will seek continued support from government and private sponsors to demonstrate the programs viability and to evaluate the level of educational improvements and attendance from the baselines established in year one. DTFP will need funding to implement the community master plan designed by ECOSA and construct the recreation center and community kitchen designed by the Stardust Center and ECOSA. Year 3 will build upon the success of the program; look to expand to neighboring communities as well as other counties; and look for opportunities to manufacture jerseys and uniforms in Liberia using materials grown by Liberian farmers, decreasing the need to import equipment and materials while providing economic development initiatives for Liberian entrepreneurs seeking to furnish the uniform and equipment needs of a growing and robust national DTFP.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

First and foremost, for DTFP to succeed, we need the continued support of the community. So far the communities are fantastically excited about the program and can’t wait to get started. However, there are several things the community must agree to for the program to be implemented: villages must collect funds to support DFTP operation. Villages that do not contribute their fair share will not participate in the program. Secondly, village sports clubs must be well managed and organized in order to provide capable staff to run the afterschool programs; monitor and educate children; maintain community gardens; and run the community kitchen. This is possible due to the fact that the staff are compensated and supported by family volunteers and as well as the village children as part of the afterschool programs. This is a very community focused project and requires the active participation of the community. If that commitment fails, the project will not succeed. Funding for implementing the demonstration project is essential to prove the program works and can be scaled-up, yet, if no funding materializes, the community can erect a basic mud-brick recreation center and the villages already set aside 1.5 acres for a soccer field, on average. The program has a high potential for success, especially with some initial external investment in order to introduce sustainable practices into the program at the community level. The Liberian government is not an impediment to the program’s success and has the potential to be an active and helpful partner. If the national government cannot support the program due to budgetary constraints, DTFP can be successful without material support, and the ministries we’ve spoken to support the program in theory. Their continued support is very welcome.

How many people will your project serve annually?

More than 10,000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

Less than $50

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?


What stage is your project in?

Operating for less than a year

In what country?

, NB

Is your initiative connected to an established organization?


If yes, provide organization name.

Empowerment Society International (ESI) and the Tufeia Foundation

How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government?


Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

Are many partners have been mentioned previously to include ASU Stardust Center; ECOSA Institute for Sustainability in Prescott, AZ; Envirofit International of Boulder, Colorado; FEDEX; ASU’s School of Sustainability and the Global Institute for Sustainability; local Community-Based Organization the Tufeia Foundation that coordinates all activities at the local level; the Liberian ministries (MoE and MY&S); the Liberian Football Association (LFA); and the communities themselves. UNDP granted Tufeia $5,000 USD to begin livelihood programs like bee keeping and poultry in the community to put economic development in place to support DTFP. Additionally, there are many U.S. football clubs like Las Vegas Premiere and Calcio Arizona and more, that are donating uniforms and equipment for the programs initial startup. This is a sustainable, trans-disciplinary, collaborative approach to development that brings many organizations together toward a common cause.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization?

The first action has already taken place which is the idea that football and youth sport can make a community better, and the fact that this idea has been embraced by the community. The second important action will be to create partnerships with local sports clubs all around the US and Europe, like Las Vegas Premiere, Calcio Arizona, and the many others that are contacting us to provide equipment and support for rural village teams in Africa. Finally, to grow our initiative, a major sponsorship from sporting good corporations (like Nike) and associations (Like FIFA), will provide a sustaining element that is desperately needed. Corporate sponsorship is the final piece that will allow the program to be able to take equipment donated from all over the world and deliver it to recipient communities (FEDEX for instance). These are the very sorts of partnerships we seek to establish to get everyone involved in the global development conversation centered around a common passion and love of sport. DTFP will prove that a small but committed network of sports lovers can tackle some of the developing world’s most pressing problems: health and human services; food security and agriculture; clean water; energy and electrification; waste and pollution. DFTP, along with its partners, will prove that through sport, anything is possible!

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

There isn’t one particular defining moment that led me to the DTFP initiative. I lived in Liberia with my father for just three short years when I was eight years old, 1979-1982. The country was beautiful and amazing, and seemingly innocent. From about 1980 until recently, 2005, Liberia has been in conflict and war. Hundreds of thousands were killed and thousands more fled the country in fear of losing their lives. Liberia lost that innocence that I had witnessed as a boy. The country and region was strewn with conflict, death and destruction, child soldiers, blood diamonds. As I watched this war, one among many in Africa, and I simply wanted to find a way to prevent it from ever happening again. Starting in 2003, I began supporting Liberian refugees at camps in Ghana and Nigeria, funding vocational training programs in hopes that one day, they could return to their country with a skill to help rebuild it. It was during these terrible years that my interest in sustainability grew and in 2007, I was able to be one of the initial graduate students at the new School of Sustainability at Arizona State University, the first in the nation. Since then I've learned many lessons in sustainability and have been exposed to many examples of successful sustainable development, lessons and knowledge I can now apply to Africa in order to prevent those wars I vowed to end so many years ago. In 2008, I was able to safely visit Liberia for the first time in 25 years. The country was virtually the same as 25 years earlier, absolutely no development or progress, only the un-development in the rubble of destroyed buildings, impassable roads, gutted infrastructure, and overexploited resources. Yet, people were returning, and with them, hope for a more sustainable future. And in their eyes shown a glimmer of that innocence I remembered from my youth. And I was stunned, by the multitude of children, everywhere playing, smiling and laughing for my camera and the attention of a strange foreigner with a GPS. And most of all, they played football, not with a ball, but with balled up t-shirts tied together by string made of sugar cane husks, with bare feet for cleats, and strong shin bones for guards; no whistles or referees, no real organization or age separation, just hundreds of kids running around playing football for the sheer joy of the game. It was in these moments that the DTFP was born.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

About me: Peter Gbelia is a graduate student in the School of Sustainability’s (SOS) MA program and a proud graduate of the US Air Force Academy, class of 1993. Currently, he is a C-17 Pilot with the 313th AS, AFRC, and also flies commercially as a 737 First Officer (FO) for Alaska Airlines. Peter is a LEED Accredited Professional (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), and is also HERS (Home Energy Rater System) Certified. He founded the Empowerment Society International (ESI) to introduce Sustainable Development to war torn regions of Africa. It is his belief that sustainability is essential to the growth and survival of these devastated regions. Peter is an ASU Technopolis Entrepreneurial Advantage Program (EAP) grant recipient and the winner of $5,000 UNDP sponsored Small Grant Program award as part of a rural sustainable livelihoods project in Liberia. He is a passionate fan of football (soccer) and lives and plays in Phoenix, Arizona.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Friend or family member

If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company

Tufeia Foundation Exec Dir. received a Facebook message from Craig Zelizer of the Peace and Collaborative Development Network