Soccer protects public land

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Soccer protects public land

Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

We are raising funds and sponsoring community soccer as a means of blocking the illegal taking of public open space by predatory development in Ulaanbaatar.

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Positioning of your initiative on the mosaic diagram:
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Lack of “safe spaces”

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Social cohesion

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic:

Tool for social activism against corrupt practices.

Sport can be used for lasting social activism to protect public space when a community stands up against corrupt practices. Strikes and demonstrations rarely last longer than a week or two. As soon as the coast is clear, developers, who have bribed public officials move in with tractors and plow over public lands for illegal development -- especially in poverty areas of the city. Sport on the other hand, is sustainable. The community supports it, children thrive, and public space is protected. This principle lies behind my efforts.

What is your signature innovation, your new idea, in one sentence?

We are raising funds and sponsoring community soccer as a means of blocking the illegal taking of public open space by predatory development in Ulaanbaatar.

Describe your innovation. What makes your idea unique and different than others doing work in the field?

Insofar as I am aware, my project is unique in that it uses soccer as a means of mobilizing the communities to protect public open spaces. In Ulaanbaatar, many children's playgrounds, parks and other public open spaces including soccer and basketball fields have been illegally usurped by predotary developers for last few years. Each time communities demonstrate for their open spaces, but eventually lose when public attention lags. Contrary to the typical sad outcome, the soccer field that I am supporting has not been destroyed by developers thanks to a dedicated soccer coach and activist, Mr. Enkhtaivan. I and my husband raised funds to Mr. Enhtaivan's salary and for equipping and organizing and training boys and girls soccer teams who practice and play on the field all year around. Those children and their coach have successfully repulsed attempts by corrupt developers to convert that open land into bars and karaoke clubs. This risk of losing public open space in Ulaanbaatar requires constant vigilance.

What are the existing barriers, the biggest problem, your innovation is hoping to address/change?

Ulaanbaatar was built during communism. The city was constructed with open spaces for the enjoyment of the public. However, these lands have not been legally protected by city codes. There is no city code and no zoning law, no open city plan and no mechanisms for public participation in city law formulation. Democracy is in its infancy here. However, by tradition, many lands are set aside for public use. Developers take adventage of the absense of regulations, however, to usurp public land.

Delivery Model: How do you implement your innovation and apply it to the challenge/problem you are addressing?

I implement my idea by identifiying and supporting a key individual, who is determined to protect his neighborhood's last soccer field from corrupt developers. I have written articles about Ulaanbaatar's land grabbing problems, spoken on television. From my public appearance, Mr. Enhtaivan contacted me with his story how he has been using soccer to protect the land. Together, we developed a proposal by which we would fund him to establish soccer teams and keep the field occupied and safe from predatory developers. On more than one occassion the children actually faced down tractors sent by predatory developers to the field. With the money we raised so far, Enhtaivan is equipping and training 90 children of five teams and establishing the sixth in his community. Also, I speak about this project in order to inspire its replication in other areas of the city facing the same problem. Politicians and public are now starting to understand the importance of public participation in city planning

How do you plan to grow your innovation?

My ultimate objective is to see that all Mongolian cities and towns have city codes, zoning regulations with public participation in all aspects of city planning. I want to use the success of this project to persuade lawmakers to enact laws to preserve and protect public open space from predatory development. I also want to use the success of this project to inspire communities throughout Mongolia to act proactively and creatively to protect their open spaces. Also this project enables me to write stories, articles, position papers and suggest law drafts and speak out for public lands.

Provide one sentence describing your impact/intended impact.

Supporting the efforts of Mr.Enhtaivan has resulted in preservation of an important public space in city of Ulaanbaatar and called public attention to this issue.

What impact has your innovation had to date/or what is your intended impact? Exactly who are the beneficiaries?

To date, the land is protected and more than 40 children play soccer everyday in winter time and over 100 children during summer time. This is a benefit to the entire community of 142 families of Songinohairhan district of Ulaanbaatar because the children have a place to go and participate in organized sport after school and on weekends. The success of this project is starting to convince the public that they can act to preserve public open space. People are inspired that they finally have a method of public open space protection that works. This growing determination on the part of the public will help protect open space until appropriate laws, regulations and procedures are put in place.

How many people have you served directly?

Directly, we served the coach-- Mr. Enhtaivan. Secondly, we serve ninety children in six teams.

How many people have you served indirectly?

- families of the children who constantly play on the field.
- other families from the community of 412 families who have open space to walk around and enjoy the space when they please.
- all Mongolians inspired by the seeing the success of Enhtaivan's effort.
- Mongolia's participatory democracy is strengthened by success against corruption.

Please list any other measures reflective of the impact of your innovation?

- I am writing articles on newspapers and magazines on importance of city codes, zoning regulations and public participation in city planning.
- I am also giving lectures on the same topic through television, radio and to politicians.
- I am publicizing Enhtaivan's example in the media which inspires community leaders and volunteers for social activism.

What are the main barriers to creating or achieving your impact?

Lack of laws and regulations, lack of tradition of having public participation in city planning, and growing money and development in Ulaanbaatar city.

How is your initiative financed (or how do you expect your initiative will be financed)?

My initiative is financed through my fundraising. I, as the head of the Local Solutions Foundation which my husband and I established in 2007, publicize Enhtaivan's story on my website So far we have partly secured the salary of the coach and equipment for 2008. I continue to look for funding for children's uniforms.

If known, provide information on your finances and organization.

My organization is a Ulaanbaatar based NGO, Local Solutions Foundation which was established in April 2007. Local Solutions Foundation raises money for, spreads ideas of creative local solutions to problems that are also global issues like poverty, corruption, illiteracy and environmental degradation. Our foundation raised over 40,000 dollars for various local small projects since its inception and published a Mongolian-English dialogue book "Nomadic Dialogues" to help mongolian nomadic herders increase their income from tourism. Also, Local Solutions Foundation was awarded $10,000 World Bank grant to compile an Occupational Directory for Mongolian high-school students and job-seekers. We have one full time staff, and three part-time project staff members in a small office in down-town Ulaanbaatar.

What is the potential demand for your innovation?

Political demands for public participation in city rule-making is starting to increase. Demand of having public space is going to be one of hottest issues of the local elections of 2008 as Ulaanbaatar's wild growth is affecting communities, children and their health.

Soccer project success is inspiring young people to play more soccer. Enhtaivan is already having challenges how to meet his community members' growing demand to play soccer on the only field remained in the territory of whole district of 300,000 people.

What are the main barriers to financial sustainability?

There is no budget dedicated to public open spaces. There is not a Parks and Recreation Commission for Ulaanbaatar. Until the city dedicates budget and attention to preserve its public open spaces, the financial barriers will exist and will require proactive response from the public. Paradoxically, Ulaanbaatar's private sector unregulated development is thriving to the extent that public lands are at risk. City government, that should provide money and legal protection to the land, is part of the problem because of corruption.

The Story
What is the origin of this innovation? Tell us your story.

In August 2007, I was interviewed on a live television show talking about importance of public participation to the construction of democratic institutions and Local Solutions Foundation's role in promoting local activists. Mr. Enhtaivan happened to call in to the studio and asked to meet me. Later, he came to my home with his album of soccer playing children and his story of his long struggle to protect the field from predatory developers. I decided to help him and wrote a story about him. The story raised enough money to fund his full time coaching since September 2007. My story was in English, and I spread it to my friends in my mailing list. Several american friends responded with donations. People their support because they loved soccer and wanted to save public space for Enhtaivan's community.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers marketing material.

Oyungerel Tsedevdamba, 41, president of Local Solutions Foundation. She served as an advisor to Elbegdorj Tsakhia during his term as prime minister. During her 12 years in public service, Tsedevdamba has worked on the country’s democratic reforms.
Oyungerel authored a local bestseller Note on My study in America, co-authored Nomadic Dialogues. She earned B.A. in planning economics from Soviet Union, M.B.A from the Moscow International Business School, M.A. in international policy studies from Stanford University and was a Yale World Fellow.

How did you hear about this contest and what is your main incentive to participate? (this is confidential)

I learnt about this contest from Ashoka Foundation's website. My main intensive to participate in the contest is to publicize our project before 2008 construction season starts. In Mongolia, we have a short, very aggressive construction season during summer and fall. In 2008, the soccer field we are protecting is going to be attacked by predatory developers again. And our key person, Mr. Enhtaivan, is informing me that the developers and district government office might use force against him and take over the soccer field by one-night's strong action so that Enhtaivan can't mobilize the community. It might happen in late April or May or June. I want to raise alerts as loud and as far as I can so that developers and city government give up their attack plan. Winning this contest will increase public awareness of this issue and help foil attempts to sieze the land from the community.

Affiliation (please list all that apply)

- a Yale World Fellow alumnus
- Stanford University alumnus