Sunday, 14 November 2010

Alive and Kicking

Sub-Sahara Africa is the poorest region in the world and was ravished by the HIV/AIDS virus. The only continent to have become poorer over the last three decades, Africa suffers from mass unemployment. 64% of Zambia’s 12 million population earn less than the equivalent of one US dollar a day – which in turn causes a whole series out various problems relating to social development. However, there is one organisation that is determined to offer its workers well above minimum wage in good working conditions. Alive & Kicking is a football (and netball and volleyball) production enterprise, offering disabled and HIV/AIDS infected workers the chance of decent income and an escape from their desperate situations. I came to find out about Alive and Kicking through the two Sport NGOs I’m working with out in Zambia. EduSport and Sport In Action both purchase their footballs from Alive and & Kicking. Our equipment cupboard at the house is packed to the rafters with their products. Each ball proudly displays their logo, a warning of the dangers of malaria and their real signature, the writing ‘Against child labour’ around the ball’s air supply. A massive fan of their ideals and interested to find out more, I managed to organise a meet with their Managing Director, Chad. We spoke for a while, about Alive and Kicking, and also about the IDEALS project I was proud to be apart of. Each stitcher has the aim of making 3 balls a day – which doesn’t sound a lot, but Alive and & Kicking balls are of the highest standard. Even in the terrains of the compounds the IDEALS students operate, the Alive & Kicking balls are hard wearing and do not fall apart – something more famous production company’s products could be accused of. I sat with Chris, one of the stitchers (pictured below). He told me about his average day at the stitching centre, located at ZamLeather, Zambia’s biggest producer of leather.

All of the stitchers seemed to enjoy their job and enjoyed a good standard of living, all of which is of course relevant to the country in which they live. It was a pleasant environment to be around and seemed nice enough to be working in. There was a good atmosphere and additional activities were encouraged by the management. The workers were very enthusiastic about their work football team, playing every Saturday morning in a league. There are reasons to remain optismistic – since their company’s birth, they’ve created over 150 jobs for Africans. Despite their American managing director, they stay true to their roots boosting of the fact their products are: made by Africans, in Africa for Africans on their company t-shirts. Through their work, they’ve targeted over 40,000 children with the intention of educating them about the dangers of HIV/AIDS. They’ve distributed over 300,000 footballs, netballs and volleyballs all together. You can order personalised footballs or organisations such as EduSport and Sport In Action can have a specific design for their required desires. Or you can simply buy or donate balls from their online shop. Friend of EduSport, a UK charity supporting the work of EduSport last week created a formal partnership with Alive & Kicking. Supporting their work and ordering ten footballs for their Go! Sisters world series to be held next year, Friend of EduSport are more than happy to give Alive & Kicking business.

Made in Africa, by Africa, for Africa – Alive and Kicking.

You can find out more about Alive and Kicking on Twitter (@ballsforafrica), Facebook ( or their website (

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