Next to feature in this Gamechangers series is Ben Sadler, the CEO of Alive and Kicking. This is a charity that is producing genuine change in the world, creating employment for vulnerable adults, as well as access to sport and health education for young people. Ben first worked with Alive and Kicking over 10 years ago, instantly falling in love with the charities mission and values. I hope that this blog shows you exactly why he became so attached, because when you learn more about Alive and Kicking, it’s almost impossible not to.
What is Alive and Kicking?
Alive and Kicking (AK) exist to create happier, healthier, more empowered communities. As the world’s only not-for-profit sports ball manufacturer, we positively impact the lives and livelihoods of people facing disadvantage, by producing a sports ball like no other – creating better access to ethical jobs, play and vital health education.
What do the words Make.Play.Live mean to the charity?
Make.Play.Live is how we separate the three main objectives of Alive and Kicking.
Make – Through the production of over 1 million high quality sports balls, we have created 1,097 ethical jobs for adults from vulnerable job groups. 90% of our staff have never had a formal job before and over 36% are living with a disability. Our operations across sub-Saharan Africa have contributed $5,227,858 to the local economy.
Play – Through our community partnerships, we give young people facing disadvantage regular access to sport, play and exercise. Since opening we have donated 185,320 locally made AK balls to community sport projects across the globe, with millions of children having kicked and caught a donated AK ball.
Live – Through our innovative award-winning health education programmes, we give young people, facing disadvantage, access to health education and services, delivered directly through sport. We have upskilled 1,367 youth leaders and teachers to deliver programming to 103,762 young people.
Why is it so important for children to have access to sports equipment, such as footballs?
Playing conditions across the globe vary widely, due to climate and access to facilities. As a result, a standard ball can last as little as a few weeks. Balls donated from overseas often turn into a piece of waste within hours of it being kicked or thrown. Our ball lasts over eight times longer than a standard ball and we can fix them too, which means young people can play with a FIFA quality football for longer. As you know, football and sport more widely can have a huge impact on our lives, just playing on a regular basis is proven to improve both our physical and mental wellbeing. Adding our health programmes into the mix, ensures that young people get access to regular sport, exercise and vital health education, something everyone has a right to access, regardless of their background.
What was your first involvement with AK and how did you become CEO?
I was very fortunate to live and work in Zambia for a couple of years before moving to Kenya for a similar period. During that time, I worked with a partner of Alive and Kicking, which is how I got to know more about the organisation. I absolutely loved the model and was always drawn in by the designs and quality of the footballs, using them for all the sports development programmes that I was involved in. When I moved back to the UK, I stayed in touch with AK and where possible continued to link up with them through each organisation I worked in, then a few years ago the opportunity came up to become CEO – and I count myself very lucky to have been appointed. AK was one of the first organisations I came across when I began working in the International Development space over ten years ago and now, I’m lucky enough to be involved full time.
How can people support Alive and Kicking?
The best way to support us, is to either buy a ball or join AKFC. You can check out our beautiful (slightly biased) range of footballs at www.aliveandkicking.org/shop. Every time we sell a ball, 100% of the income goes back into the organisation to support Make.Play.Live. If you would like to go a step further, you can join our fictional football team, AKFC. By becoming a member and a regular giver, you receive an exclusive AKFC shirt every year, as well as other goodies including an AK ball of your choice. Your donations are crucial in helping AK grow and strengthening our impact. Check out https://aliveandkicking.org/akfc/ for more information.
Just like Ben said, our donations are crucial. Supporting a charity like this will always be money and time well spent, because the only way that we can move forwards, is to give back. For things to change, you just need two beliefs. 1) The future can be better than the present. 2) YOU have the power to change it. Follow their journey on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – @WeAreAKUK