From volunteering for two days to working for love.fútbol, check out how Kainen Bell became part of the love.futbol team. Written by Kainen Bell and photos provided by Kainen and love.fútbol
How I met love.fútbol
In 2018 I received a Fulbright research fellowship through the U.S. government. My initial project was to travel through Brazil to learn about different non-profit organizations and how they were impacted by the latest economic recession.
This is how I first met love.fútbol, an organization that brings communities together by developing soccer pitches to provide kids in low income communities with safe places to play. I was immediately impressed by their community-driven approach and volunteered to help with a local build project in Brasilia Teimosa, Brazil. I didn’t know it at the time, but this two-day experience would have a profound impact on the rest of my life.
Getting my hands dirty
When I first signed up, I expected the ‘standard volunteer experience’. You know, the ‘busy work’ where you feel like you helped, but it wasn’t too strenuous and after a few hours you get to go home to ‘the real world’. It was nothing like that - it was so much more. First, we did REAL work; shoveling rocks to dig up an old goalpost, sanding wooden poles to be used in a future garden, painting all manner different items and most of all working side-by-side with people from the community of Brasilia Teimosa.
There were over 50 volunteers from the local community, of all ages. Some were painters, some were construction workers, others were soccer coaches but we were all united by a common purpose - to help the children of the community. Everyone were invested in this completion of the project, despite it being hot and sweaty work. And I loved every sweat-drenched second of it!
Team work makes the dream work
One of my jobs was to sand down wooden poles that would be used to create a shaded seating area. As I began sanding, a kid walked by and asked to help. I said sure. Then another kid asked what we were doing and I invited him to help too. Before I knew it there were ten boys and girls working together in teams to complete this task I was set to do myself at the start. It was beautiful to see their spirit and willingness to contribute in a meaningful way because they were too young to help on the bigger projects. We laughed, joked, danced and practiced English and Portuguese as we worked. One kid was so happy that she introduced me to her family members - including their dog!
The Inauguration Day is when the project is officially unveiled to the community and there is a huge celebration.There was capoeira - a typical Brazilian dance based on martial arts, with local dance groups - and of course a soccer match! Hundreds of local people came to celebrate the new field, including the national news station. We even had some Navy Seals from a US Navy Ship come join in the celebrations!
It was beautiful to see how this project could bring positive exposure to a community that few people understand. There was a true sense of pride in how a community can come together despite their challenges and build something with their own hands that will last a long time for the benefit of everyone. Although it is fun to watch the kids play, the soccer field is not the most important part - it is the relationships that are built and the pride of investing our sweat and tears into something bigger than all of us.
If you want to challenge yourself like I did, to, learn about communities, have fun and make lifelong friendships then consider getting involved with love.fútbol.
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