Four participants from the Chelsea Foundation Kicks programme recently travelled to Lyon in France to take part in Festival 19.
An event to bring together disadvantaged young people from across the globe, Festival 19 took participants on an inspiring 10-day journey of cross-cultural exchange, empowering girls and young women to take on leadership roles in their communities and raise awareness of the collective need for an equal game for an equal world.
More than 300 participants took part in the event from 48 different community organisations and 35 different countries, including four girls from our Kicks programme.
They were given the opportunity to be involved in a number of workshops with a broad range of female speakers, play football against teams from all over the world and witness both of the Women’s World Cup semi-finals at the Stade De Lyon.
Senior social inclusion officer Andrew Ducille, who accompanied our Kicks participants on the trip to Lyon, said: ‘I don’t even know where to start, Festival 19 was unbelievable!
‘To see so many people from so many backgrounds, cultures, races, genders, young people with disabilities come together to bond, play football, dance, eat together has blown my mind!
‘If the world could be as culturally diverse with the smiles that came from the diversity, it would be a greater place to live. It was an unforgettable life-changing experience for myself and the participants who took part!’
Kicks participant Tyra said: ‘It has been a fantastic week in Lyon.
‘I’ve met so many inspirational people and heard so many touching stories.
‘I will never forget all the people I have met and all the bonds we have created even though there was a language barrier.’
Mahnoor Rauf, a former Kicks participant and now a sessional coach for Chelsea Foundation, travelled to Lyon prior to the rest of the group arriving to take part in the breaking of two world records. She joined the Lyon Foundation and players of all sizes, ages, genders and nationalities to play five-a-side for 68 hours in order to break two world records.
The game that lasted nearly three days was both the longest game ever and featured the most players ever and finished a respectable 399-369.
The match raised money for the Equal Playing Field Association, a charity which aims to bring equality to men and women.