Football is the world’s global language. You could go to any corner of the world and you would find people who love and understand the beautiful game. In recent times, we have seen the game being used as a vehicle to create societal change.
Heroes like Marcus Rashford have chosen to educate the masses whilst providing opportunities for people to help their communities through local schemes. This movement however is not just restricted to footballers and is not just based within the UK. Alive and Kicking are a prime example of using football to impact change.
The world’s only not-for-profit ball manufacturer, Alive and Kicking aim to use the lifecycle of a football to grow and strengthen communities around the world. The manufacturing of the football provides jobs and training to those who need it the most. Balls and profit are donated to children from disadvantaged communities enabling them to play football in safe environments. These children are also educated at the same time using sport. Alive and Kicking contribute to training local community coaches and school teachers to deliver vital health education through sport.
This pure and impactful approach is what led to Chivas – through their new Regal FC project – collaborating with Alive and Kicking. Regal FC is devoted to celebrating the eternal influence of the game across the globe. By uniting the multiple strands of modern football culture, the aim is to highlight the stories and people who are redefining what the beautiful game means.
Alive and Kicking are just one of the members of Regal FC alongside Grenfell Athletic FC, Nivelcrack FC and Under The Radar FC. To celebrate the launch of Regal FC, Chivas hosted ‘The Regal FC Rooftop 5s’, including a host of stars including Harry Pinero, Yung Filly and Vuj.
The kits for the tournament were created in collaboration between Chivas and British streetwear designer Marc Jacques Burton. The three exclusive kits which highlight the three distinct expressions in the Chivas range will be available via from December 1st with proceeds from the first drop going to Alive and Kicking.
We caught up with Alive and Kicking to further understand what their ‘why’ is and why football is the method:
VERSUS: Football is a global language that everyone understands. Why do you believe that football is so important for aiding communities?
A&K: Football goes way beyond the pitch – you just have to look at the blend of brilliant organisations and individuals that joined Chivas’ Regal FC Rooftop 5’s tournament to find evidence of that. It can bring people together, bridge gaps and create opportunities that we otherwise may have missed. For us, football creates ethical jobs for adults, it enables young people to play and socialise, and it provides opportunities for children to access vital health education and services.
What made you create Alive and Kicking and why football as that tool for societal change?
Alive and Kicking was created first and foremost to enable communities to play the beautiful game. What were kind ball donations from afar, sadly didn’t always last very long on the tough football pitches of Nairobi and Lusaka. To ensure high quality balls were available to all, AK set about manufacturing FIFA quality footballs that could last longer, play longer and make a positive social impact.
As we began to produce we realised that football could do more – our balls are all made locally, using local materials and expertise. We create full time ethical jobs for adults from vulnerable job groups, 95% of which have never had a formal job before and 46% of which are living with a disability. We’re then able to utilise our partnerships and profit from ball sales to give young people access to sport, donating thousands of balls every year while also growing an exciting ball library network. We also train up youth leaders, sports coaches and teachers to deliver health education directly through football coaching, enabling young people to live happy and healthy lives.
Being part of Regal FC is massive. What does it mean to you and the mission you are trying to achieve?
It’s huge. We were honoured to be invited and showcase the difference we are making across the football community. When it comes to our mission, the key way to drive it forward is awareness. The more people that know about us, the more we see our footballs being kicked and caught across communities and the more social impact we are able to make. Being part of Chivas’ new concept club Regal FC has increased that awareness massively, putting us in view of some of the world’s most forward thinking organisations and people.
Through Regal FC we have also been introduced to the work of other teams such as Under The Radar FC, and Nivelcrack, who are all currently contributing in their own way to football today. It’s great Chivas has brought together such a blend football experience. It brings us back to why football is so important – when we do this together we can all support each other to make change.
How important is education in the work you do?
Education sits at the heart of our mission and is key to our sustainable impact. We educate adults about employment and careers, not only creating direct employment opportunities ourselves, but preparing people from vulnerable job groups to enter and progress through the job market. We educate children about safe play, giving them the skills and knowledge to enjoy the game with their friends, families and communities. Finally we educate young people across vital health topics, from Sexual Reproductive Health to Mental Health, empowering them to live happy and healthy lives.
What does it mean to you to give provisions for young people to play football safely?
Everyone deserves the right to play safely and enjoy the benefits of football, regardless of their background. Sadly many people are faced with numerous barriers, whether that be a lack of quality equipment, poor access to a safe play space or even stigma within the game. We think it is vitally important that all young people can access sport in a way that they can enjoy it and feel supported. Through our coach education programmes, ball donation initiatives and growing ball library hubs, we believe we are making a significant contribution to this goal. Opportunities like Chivas’ Regal FC allow us to share our story, support others to do the same and of course, strengthen our impact.
What do you hope the long-term outcome of your work will be?
Alive and Kicking exist to create happier, healthier more empowered communities by producing a sports ball like no other. Long term our aim is to scale up our impact, providing more opportunities for employment, play and access to health support. To do that we need to see more Alive and Kicking footballs at the hands and feet of people around the globe – we had AK balls at the Regal FC Rooftop 5’s Tournament which was a great reference point to talk to some of the talent and teams taking part, about what we do.
Along the way, we would also love to influence the rest of the sports manufacturing sector – showing them that it is possible to produce footballs sustainably while making a positive impact on the communities in which we work. And who knows, World Cup 2026, maybe we’ll see an Alive and Kicking ball in the final!
Check out Regal FC to learn more about the impact being created by all the community teams collectively.