We are currently drawing on lessons learned in order to maximize our impact on the ground and we incorporate feedback from the communities into our future plans. We are focusing on how to ensure the ownership of the local communities so that the tournaments will continue once we phase out our work.
We are using local staff only and cooperating with local organizations ensures a transfer of skills as well as an invaluable exchange of experiences and ideas. Our partner on the ground, Forum of Conscience/Fambul Tok, has the same goal as we do but pursue it in different ways, which creates a mutually beneficial symbiosis.
What could prevent this from turning into reality is first and foremost a lack of financial resources, which could, again, stem from lacking ability on our side to effectively demonstrate the impact of our work to potential funders. This is something we are keenly aware of and are thus currently developing presentation materials to make sure we convey the importance of our work the best way possible.
Over the last two years, we have engaged over 1,100 players—women, men and children—and reached 30,000+ people in eastern and central Sierra Leone as well as in Guinea and Liberia. We have organized more than 65 community teams from 32 chiefdoms. Going forward, over the next year we plan sustain our programs in three districts in Sierra Leone, expand to at least one additional district in Sierra Leone, as well as build-up our tri-nation program in Guinea and Liberia. Of course, while numerical reach is important, we are conscious not to forget the impact we have on each individual person and community. We strive to continue to facilitate meaningful encounters that give individuals and communities the opportunity to reengage and begin the process of reconciliation. In the end, our goal is to substantially contribute to the building and strengthening of amicable relationships in the communities where we work, and thus contribute to the prospects of peace and prosperity of those same communities.
What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.
In the coming year, through July 2011, our focus is on consolidating programmatic and organizational work, as well as developing an evaluation matrix. We want to assess how best to continue supporting the target communities whilst gradually withdrawing to leave ownership of the program at a local level. Within this period we will also strengthen our more nascent programs in Guinea and Liberia as well as expand to at least one additional district in Sierra Leone. We believe there will be economies of scale advantages by having programs in several districts, as many of our overhead costs will stay fixed. By late fall this year, we plan to hire a program manager in Sierra Leone as well as a local program coordinators in each district where we work.
During the second year we intend to take the knowledge obtained through our rigorous evaluation processes and expand into additional districts in Sierra Leone. Particularly, it would be interesting to initiate our work in Freetown, thus applying it to an urban setting for the first time.
During the third year, and contingent upon our success, we plan to take our work into countries of similar conditions as Sierra Leone. The most obvious choices would be to spread further into Guinea and Liberia but additional options include Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya and Cote D’Ivoire.
The success of this plan requires a continued close connection to our partnering organization in Sierra Leone as well as similar relationships with local organizations in each new place we expand to. Furthermore, it requires an ability to apply our methodology in new environments with diligent attention to contextual particularities.
Just as important, the success and viability of these plans will depend on diversifying our funding sources. Currently, our funding comes primarily from foundations and individual donors and we need to expand this to include corporations and eventually government funding. This will be discussed further below.
What would prevent your project from being a success?
The main challenges to the continued success of Play31’s work fall into two categories: 1. our programmatic work and 2. our fundraising strategies.
1. The pitfalls in this category would include not paying sufficient attention to lessons learned and the sustainability of our work. It is important we be open and attentive to unexpected feedback and pursue rigorous evaluation. The evaluation will have both a qualitative and quantitative aspect and will focus on attitudes and interaction between individuals and communities. It will consist of questionnaires and in-depth interviews.
2. As mentioned above, the challenge in this category is to broaden our funding resources, reaching out to corporations (both for monetary and in-kind support), structure relationships with football clubs and college/high school teams, and eventually apply for government funding. We have already established relationships with football clubs, some college communities and we seek to further structuralize those by making clear sponsorship opportunities for people who wish to become engaged. We are currently working on a strategy for securing corporate support and we have a string of fundraising events planned for the upcoming year.
Our concept and methodology is so flexible that adaptation to different contexts and environments is sufficiently uncomplicated and a failure to implement this would stem, aside from unforeseen and uncontrollable occurrences, only from a failure to carry out the above-mentioned precautions and measures.