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Opening doors, one goal at a time

One of the things I love most about play is its accessibility.

Most games, whether they’re of the team-building, sports or board-game variety, are in their very essence a way of connecting to other human beings, and therefore accessible to most of us.

Of course, there are notable exceptions - not everyone has the dexterity or the patience for games like Warhammer - and some games are the domain of such practised players, like chess or Olympic sports, that all we can do is watch and wonder.

Crossing the threshold

But games that make an art of accessibility always draw my attention.

In Dutch we have a specific word for accessible: ‘laagdrempelig’. For all non-Dutch speakers out there, this roughly translates as ‘low doorstep’.

For accessibility, of course, the doorstep has to be low.

But what I love about this saying is that it’s obvious that the door itself is already wide open and just waiting to be stepped through - with a whole playful world behind it waiting to be explored. That is the power of accessible games.

The power of the (foot)ball

No surprise then, that I am a huge fan of Favela Street, brainchild of Roxanne ‘Rocky’ Hehakaija - a former Dutch national football player.

Her organization uses the power of play to swing the doors wide open for youth in underserved neighbourhoods around the world, from Curaçao, Sudan, and Haiti to Brazil and the Netherlands.

Her tool? The game of street football, which is easy to learn, has flexible rules and attracts both girls and boys to the football pitch.

With this game, Rocky and Favela Street are raising a new generation of role models to become independent football trainers for their community. At the same time, they are given the educational resources they need to discover and appreciate their own talents, on and off the pitch. This allows them to make a positive change in their own lives and in their communities.

A vote for play

At the end of the day, Favela Street is a vote of confidence for the potential of kids who often get overlooked simply because of where they live. In many ways, street football is the perfect vehicle: easily played with what little resources are available, sharing in the global language of football, and the ultimate 'low doorstep' sport for communities around the world.

To say I adore this way of using accessible play is an understatement, and I just sit and watch and wonder as Rocky and her team throw open door after door.

So much so that I’ve asked Rocky to come and speak at my Play in Business event on September 30th, 2021. And guess what? She said yes!

Curious to hear how playing street football makes a lasting impact on communities, and how this might translate into a better world for all of us? Join us!

Find out more about Play in Business, and buy your tickets, here:

Meet our keynote speaker, Rocky:

And check out the incredible kids at Favela Street:

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