TIDE Freshwater Cup Football Tournament

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TIDE Freshwater Cup Football Tournament

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

The TIDE Freshwater Cup Football Tournament is an important component of the Environmental Education and Outreach strategy for southern Belize. Football teams mobilize the community - adults, children, adolescents, and entire families in developing and implementing an environmental project that allows the team to compete in the football tournament.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The Maya Mountain Marine Corridor of southern Belize is a unique mosaic of landscapes and cultures, an interdependent and biologically significant area that encompasses approximately 739,650 land acres and the equivalent of 100,000 acres at sea. It includes more than forty-three distinct systems that support threatened species, fulfill human needs, contribute to natural disaster mitigation and climate change adaptation: upland forests, coastal plain broadleaf forests, and pine savannas, freshwater systems, near shore estuaries, seagrass beds, mangroves, and coral reefs. The area forms a significant part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor housing seven percent of the world’s biological diversity in less than 0.5 percent of the world’s land surface. Threats come from hunting and fishing pressures, worldwide climate change, agro industry, critically low species reproductive population levels, coastal development, dredging and land clearing, habitat destruction from mangrove loss, expanding human settlements, destructive fishing practices, diseases affecting coral reefs, and wildfires.

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

The project model uses the inexpensive and popular sport of football to mobilize entire populations, using the sport as a vehicle to increase and consolidate environmental awareness. The football league and championship tournament are used to develop educational and environmental awareness programs. Community based programs, led by the football teams, teach the community how to save resources, use sustainable fishing and forestry techniques and understand the rules and regulations that protect the area and endangered species. To register for the football tournament, each team must first design and execute an environmental project that is based in their community. Primary schools participate in a junior level tournament and school based environmental project. At both the senior and junior levels prizes are awarded for environmental project excellence and for winning the sports (football) competition) A community committed by conviction, not imposition, to responsibility for protection of the area has contributed to a reduced level of waste on beaches, streets, and highways. There have been campaigns on a variety of environmental topics and as a resident expresses “...(they) have understood that conservation can be, and is, a more stable source of income than devastation and contamination.”
Impact: How does it Work

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

The TIDE Freshwater Cup Football Tournament started in 2005 and has brought together football players, their families and communities in leisure activities and environmental programs. The seeds of long-term environmental awareness have been planted and continue to be nurtured in the communities. The most far-reaching outcome most regularly shared by community members is that before the TIDE Freshwater Cup no one cared if there was rubbish everywhere, but the tournament has changed that attitude for the better. Today members of the communities are committed to the cleanliness and appearance of their local area. The program has led to the elimination of waste found on beaches, highways and the coast; contributed to better conservation of mangroves; facilitated the planting of trees for reforestation and prevention of erosion; reached thousands of residents through the community projects and through the many who attend the tournament to support their home teams; located refuse cans in all communities painted and decorated by students; and involves individuals and communities in work of TIDE. Residents throughout the Toledo District are proud of their local environment and willing to invest in protection of natural resources.
About You
Toledo Institute for Development and Environment
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Section 1: About You
First Name


Last Name

McLean Dawson


Toledo Institute for Development and Environment


, TO

Section 2: About Your Organization
Organization Name

Toledo Institute for Development and Environment

Organization Phone


Organization Address

One Mile San Antonio Road, Punta Gorda

Organization Country

, TO

Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, TO

Do you have a patent for this idea?


Generate a greater awareness of the importance of conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources by communities in the Toledo District of southern Belize; directly involve young people and local people in resource planning and management, creating a connection with the land; instil pride in local communities forming a connection between the ecosystem, victory in the football tournament, and success in the environmental projects; improve general health and wellbeing throughout the area; and participate in improving present and future quality of life for young people. The TIDE Freshwater Cup is implemented each year with the assistance of volunteers. TIDE arranges program activities, provides technical assistance for the environmental projects, manages the budget, and ensures reports. TIDE Staff participates in virtually every game and project.


Litter collection involved communities covering parks, rivers, highways and beaches.
Tree planting for reforestation and and aesthetic improvement as well as the prevention of erosion.
Educational campaigns on environmental protection in communities including the design and erection of bilboards on environmental themes, lessons in schools and meetings to discuss environmental issues with various communities.
Launch of eco-tourism in communities.
Founding of environmental clubs in several communities, include one led by mother of the Jacinto Ville football team.
The elimination of illegal dumps and the opening of new, organizaed dump in accordance with environmental wast management standards.
The location of refugse cans in all participating communities, painted and decorated by members of the community - mainly students.
The Belize Defense Force now accompanies TIDE rangers on some surveillance and patrol activities.
A lot of fun and activities related to playing and enjoying football games.

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

At the end of each TIDE Freshwater Cup, the staff, volunteers and community has an opprotunity to evaluate the program and make recommendations for the upcoming year (or years). TIDE will build on such lessons learned as: activities within reserves, protected areas or natural parks cannot overlook the resident population and much allow for income generation and better standards of learning for residents; community involvement is essential preservation of the environmnent and providing solutions to all problems faced; methodologies muc include an active roled for residents in conservation and spreading environmental awareness; support from government agencies is needed and must be increased; environmental awarenes must encompass all inhabitants including adolescents and children allowing every person the shared responsibility of teaching otheres about conserving the environment; community traditions must be used to help develop environmental awareness - the more well-known, attractive, and entertaining these are to the community members, the easier it is to involve the whole community; and the active participation of governmental and non-governmental institutions are indispensible in the long-term executin of this type of program.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

For several years there has been discussion of a semi-pro or even a professional football team that would involve some of the TIDE Freshwater Cup community players. At this writing, this has been consistently delayed. However, this would be more of a success than a challenge - to have football played at a professional or semi-professional level in the Toledo District of southern Belize would be a great accomplishment.

Money is always needed - money pays for staff to work the games and organize the activities. Money pays for the field and referees and money provides the prizes for the environmental projects and the football tournament.

Money provides shoes for children who often must play barefoot or without proper shoes. Money provides transportation to games for teams and for fans.

Money is the most needed commodity.

How many people will your project serve annually?


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 1‐5 years

In what country?

, TO

Is your initiative connected to an established organization?


If yes, provide organization name.

Toledo Institute for Development and Environment

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.

The partner most critical to the success of the TIDE Freshwater Cup is the community - each village and town involved in the Toledo District gives of their time and effort to the environmental projects and making a difference in their own and the lives of others; the team members lead this effort and expend their energy in playing football - for the entertainment of people in the area, but also to promote an agenda of environmental awareness.

TIDE maintains an active outreach strategy through social media and through direct fundraising efforts. Committed (financial) partners include the Oak Foundation, the Summit Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, the Government of Belize (Debt for Nature Swap), COMPACT, the Massachusetts Audubon Society, Protected Areas Conservation Trust, Environment Defense Fund the Mesoamerican Reef Fund, Rainforest Alliance, Outpost International, Hausman Foundation, Call for the Wild Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), and other individuals, corporations, and foundations.

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

Research and monitoring creates a strong research and evidence base to develop innovative, interdisciplinary research and methodologies delivering appropriate tools and approaches. Assessing the health of the ecosystem includes marine, terrestrial and freshwater systems in an integrated approach to research and recommendation, incorporating the entirety of the watershed from headwaters to the coral reefs. Ecosystem mapping, the systems based knowledge of coastal and marine socio-ecological systems includes the inter-linkages with marine and terrestrial systems to increase understanding and information management decisions. Environmental education and outreach is conducted through a variety of activities that focus on both Marine and Terrestrial priorities and include: twice monthly Radio show, Freshwater Cup Football Tournament, Summer Camp – an annual activity, TIDE Weekend – over the holiday weekend of Pan-American Day and includes the Fish Fest and Youth Conservation Competition, and Outreach to schools and students - Awareness days and events, Science fairs, Poster and essay contests, Reports and research, and Special educational exhibits. Outreach to communities - Community meetings and consultations, Community involvement in ecosystems management, Development of materials that focus on Marine and Terrestrial issues, Social Media. Outreach to the wider world community through the website, Facebook, blogs, twitter, e-news, newsletters, and other tools. TIDE conducts enforcement of laws and regulations through a series of activities: Regular patrols by TIDE rangers; Joint patrols with the Belize Defense Force, Fisheries, and others; Signage and information regarding regulations; Demarcation; Capacity building of TIDE rangers, community stewards, and members of the general public. TIDE operates ranger and visitor stations on Abalone Caye, the Rio Grande River, West Snake Caye, and at Payne’s Creek National Park and a liaison office in the Village of Monkey River to provide management of the following areas: Port Honduras Marine Reserve, Payne's Creek National Park, and TIDE Private Protected Lands.

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

Reaching impoverished communities with a message that the natural resources of Belize are worth saving and worth investing their time and energy provided a significant challenge. Athletics, specifically football, is an interest of virtually every member of the community and players are often informal leaders of their community, people to whom community members listen. Thus was born the concept to utilize football as the tool to build understanding and committment to conservation in the Toledo District of Belize.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

Wil Maheia was the Executive Director of the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE)from founding the NGO in 1997 until 2007. Since the beginning of TIDE Will and the staff, worked with local communities to ensure the protection of Toledo’s marine and terrestrial environments. Wil is responsible for developing innovative conservation programs at TIDE that have been recognized by the local, national, and international communities. While working with communities to identify alternative income generating activities,
TIDE conducted the first fly-fishing (for prospective guides) and kayaking training courses as alternatives to gill-net fishing in the Toledo District. Wil worked closely with local communities to establish the Port Honduras Marine Reserve, one of the largest marine reserves in the country. The Freshwater Cup, a conservation atheletes program, encourages migrant and rural
communities to become more involved in the conservation of Toledo’s natural resources by combining organized sports with environmental projects. In 2005, the program sponsored the first annual Freshwater Cup football competition, which raised awareness of environmental issues among Toledo’s communities.
TIDE has received many awards including: the Equator Initiative Prize from the United Nations Development Program; the Environmental Organization of the Year Award from the Government of Belize; the Cliff Messenger Award from The
Nature Conservancy; and the Sunflower Award from Earth’s
Birthday Project in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Wil also co-founded the Tri-national Alliance for the Gulf of Honduras, which has been working
to bring organizations in Honduras, Belize, and Guatemala together in the conservation arena. While with TIDE Will held a number of offices including:
Chairman of the Board for the Centre for Employment Training in the Toledo District; Vice Chair for the Board of Directors for the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute of Belize; Co-chair, Belize Association of Private Protected Areas; and member of the Executive Committee, Government of Belize Community Forestry Initiative.

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