Football, drumming and dignitaries celebrate Team Burundi

Here’s an update from Team Burundi representative James Mortimore in Bujumbura about last week’s official launch of Burundi’s Road to Rio:

“The Street Child World Cup was officially launched for Team Burundi just over a week ago, and we were delighted to be able to include guests from across the world, as well as national media and local dignitaries.

However, whilst we were very pleased to have such support from such a wide array of people and businesses, we wanted to make the day about the children; not just those 8 children who will be boarding a plane to Brazil (all getting onto a plane for the very first time!), but for all the children we work with, irrespective of what interest they have in football, and how good they are.

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The day began with a football match between the New Generation boys with whom we work with very closely on a day-to-day basis, and another team of boys from the streets of Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital. After an empty passing Matatu (minibus/taxi) was hailed and took us to a local pitch (a lack of transport being a key issue for us at New Generation), the teams were able to begin warming up, not before a new set of kit, courtesy of one of supporters running the London Marathon, was given to the team, making them understandably very happy!

The game was watched keenly from the side-lines by SCWC founder, Chris Rose, as well as Nick Turner, a trustee of Street Action, one of our own partners and a key supporter of the work at New Generation. Typically for a big event, the game ended nil-nil, but it was a great opportunity to speak to some of the boys, and capture some of their stories as we move further on our own Road to Rio.

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After the game, the boys, supporters, friends of New Generation and the media all headed to the headquarters of New Generation, and we had a series of speeches from Chris, Nick, Dieudonne Nahimana (New Generation founder and President), as well as from Burundi’s Head of Mass Sport. In addition to these people, we were also delighted to hear from two brothers who form a key part of the New Generation football team, Vianney Ndihokubwayo and Pasteur Bigirimana, boys who lost both their parents in the Burundian Civil War over 10 years ago, and came to the street in search of
food.

After the ‘official’ proceedings came to an end, we were delighted to welcome some traditional Burundian drummers, who combine an amazing sense of rhythm with some very wild gymnast acrobatics. At the end of their show, Chris, Nick, Dieudonne and many of the boys took up the drumsticks and continued the low, pulsating rhythms, and the night ended with a few interviews with local newspapers and television.

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The Road to Rio has now officially begun in Burundi, and this was further reiterated as on the next day, Dieudonne, Chris and Nick met with the 1st Vice President of Burundi, who was keen to add his backing, and government’s backing, to the campaign.”

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  • “I experienced hardcore street life in my youth. I know what it’s like. I congratulate the Street Child World Cup project in it’s commitment to bring attention to the plight of Street Children through the power of football.”

    Manny Pacquiao, Filipino professional boxer
  • “I know from personal experience just what power football can have to inspire and change young people’s lives whatever their background or nationality. This is what the Street Child World Cup is all about and I give it my full support.”

    David Beckham OBE
  • “It was a privilege to be invited to the launch of the Street Child World Cup at Downing Street. It gives children a voice through football, sales a platform to express their rights and celebrate their abilities – I’m proud to add my support.”

    Wilson Palacios, Stoke City and Honduras Midfielder