ESPN has opened a brand new football pitch in the community of Makoko, in Lagos, Nigeria, as part of its Built To Play initiative. In collaboration with Kick4Life, Slum2School and Love.futbol, the first-in-Africa facility will serve the 3 000 learners of the school, upon whose premises it is built, as well as the 85 840 people who live in this community.
Launched in 2016, Built To Play is an international corporate citizenship project that set out to create safe spaces in communities in key markets where ESPN has a presence. The initiative provides not only sports courts for play, but holistic support that empowers the local community and provides jobs skills and life-skills training to enable young people to have a more positive future. Nine play spaces in eight markets across the globe have been built prior to this one, including in Puerto Rico, Mexico City, Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro and Sydney.
With no other football field in the area, the recently opened field that is easily accessible, is already being used daily by children from the surrounding schools and the Makoko community. The gates to the centrally located 30 x 98 metre field are left open so that anyone can utilize the space to hone their football skills, play a friendly game or simply enjoy themselves kicking a ball.
To ensure that the field not only serves as a space for healthy enjoyment and collaboration, but also one where health and well-being development can take place, Kick4Life together with Slum2School are training 14 local coaches to deliver a co-created sport curriculum to young people in the local community (7 young men and 7 young women). This football-focussed training will be delivered to 420 children and young people in the local community, with ongoing monitoring and evaluation. Additionally, tuition that addresses key challenges facing young people in the area related to health, gender equality and life-skills development, will be provided.
“ESPN is known for bringing the very best sporting leagues and the fans who follow them together, and the creation of this long-term, sustainable programme in the Makoko community truly encapsulates this ethos,” says Kyle De Klerk, Director: Sports, The Walt Disney Company Africa. “We anticipate a wonderful, collaborative future, not only with our partners Love.futbol, Kick4Life and Slum2School, but also with the community who have so enthusiastically embraced the initiative. We hope that this facility becomes a true focal and gathering point for the sports fans and the community in the years to come, as a place to share their love of sport,” he added.