Fourth Annual Children's Rights Soccer Tournament for the Children Parliament Cup

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Fourth Annual Children's Rights Soccer Tournament for the Children Parliament Cup

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

The theme of the tournament is “Know Your Rights and Protect Them.” The message is powerful in its simplicity. The event adopts soccer as a medium to attract and alert children to their rights as not only Yemeni youth, but also as world citizens. The tournament is run by Yemenis, for Yemenis. The participants learn trust, teamwork, and how to protect their rights.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The world has been bombarded with news on Yemen. The seemingly obscure country, located south of Saudi Arabia and east of Oman, is one of the poorest nations in the world. GDP per capita was an estimated $2,500 in 2008 and Yemen’s principle source of income, oil, is quickly drying up.1 FOX, CNN and other news agencies have thrust Yemen onto the world stage, depicting the country as the next base for Al-Qaeda operations and the training ground for the Christmas day terrorist, Farouk Abdulmutallab. As the war with Houthi rebels rages in the north and secessionists riot in the south, civil society is slowly suffocating. President Abdullah Saleh is struggling to hold his country intact and U.S. and British embassies recently closed, only to temporarily reopen days later. Although many have forsaken Yemen, often referring to the ancient civilization as the “new Afghanistan,” there are still valiant actors on-the-ground vying for change. These individuals struggle to combat the lack of education outlets for children and the children's rights soccer tournament seeks to fill this void.

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

The soccer tournament is the only children's rights awareness event in Yemen's history to be run by Yemenis, for Yemenis. Whereas children are often the subjects of conferences and campaigns in Yemen, Yemeni youth are engaged by their peers in the soccer tournament. They are the main focus, rather than being relegated to the periphery. The tournament is run by volunteers from the Democracy School, as well as members of the Children's Parliament, an elected delegation of children from across Yemen’s provinces. Many of the volunteers have gone through the same struggles that the tournament's participants are currently facing. There is no sense of "otherness" and bonds of kinship are formed. This face-to-face interaction establishes a web of trust and allows the tournaments to function as a venue for open dialogue -- for asking some questions, while answering others. The children, for perhaps the first time in their lives, are afforded the opportunity to speak candidly about the challenges they face in front of their peers.
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 first soccer tournament was in the summer of 2007. The children's rights awareness event reached out to 100 Yemeni boys over the course of a single day. The soccer tournament has repeated every summer since. More than 600 Yemeni youth have participated in the event since 2007.
About You
The Democracy School
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Section 1: About You
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The Democracy School

Section 2: About Your Organization
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The Democracy School

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As soccer matches and volleyball meets draw to a close, youth facilitators from the Children’s Parliament, an elected delegation of children from across Yemen’s provinces, mix and match children from every team into small groups. Those who were competitors on the field, now become partners off of it. Once everyone has learned everyone else’s name, the peer volunteers will begin to engage the children by asking a series of questions, including:
• If you were the leader of the world, what would you do to help children?
• What is the role of the United Nations in protecting children?
• What should you do if someone is abusing you? Who should you call?
• Who can you trust?

Thus, the children are directly engaged and gain a greater understanding of their rights and how to protect them.


The tournaments have reached out to more than 600 Yemeni youth. Many of the former participants have gone on to become leading voices for children's rights, as well as mentors to other Yemeni children. A number of participants have also volunteered at other children's rights events sponsored by the Democracy School.

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

The project's mission, message, and infrastructure are all in place, but the main concern over the next three years is funding. According to my projections, the tournament will cost $3,994 to conduct over the course of five days/300 participants.

When I returned to Yemen in the summer of 2008, word of the 2007 tournament spread quickly throughout Yemen's streets. There was an air of excitement and children yearned for updates as to when the 2008 tournament would be held. This excitement endures and the only way to ensure the future of the soccer tournament is to secure a long-term sponsor.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

The only foreseeable obstacle to the success of my project is a deficit in finances. The tournaments have succeeded historically and will continue to do so as the volunteers remain committed and the clear message endures. The only question is whether or not funding will be at the Democracy School's disposal.

How many people will your project serve annually?


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

$100 ‐ 1000

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?
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?


If yes, provide organization name.

The Democracy School

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 Democracy School's partnerships with organizations such as "Save the Children" and "UNICEF" are important, but do not affect my soccer tournament. Funding has always been derived from outside of these international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), who often sponsor other projects.

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

The three most important actions are to secure a long-term sponsor; to reach out to a greater number of Yemeni youth from across Yemen; and, to ensure that civil strife in the country will not negatively impact the children's participation in the tournaments.

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

Following my freshman year at Duke University, I participated in DukeEngage, a revolutionary program that offers Duke students the opportunity to transverse the world to implement service projects. I spent eight weeks in Sana'a, Yemen and worked at the Democracy School, a Yemeni non-government organization (NGO). The group's main focus is to protect human rights, with particular attention to women's and children's rights. As an intern at the Democracy School I was asked to plan a service project - one that would be carried out and executed by the NGO. Having already participated in several children's rights workshops, where no children were present, I returned to my hotel room night after night searching for a more effective way to reach Yemeni youth. Watching children playing soccer outside of my bedroom window 24 hours a day, it dawned on me, teach children about their rights through the medium of soccer.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

The social innovator behind this idea is simple. Soccer is the beloved past time of Yemeni sports and a medium to reach out to Yemeni children, many of whom do not attend school and are ill-educated on their rights. By using soccer as an arena for cooperation and teamwork, the tournament draws in children to participate in insightful and engaging children's rights workshops.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Email from Changemakers

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