Prince Sufri attends AFC Conference, meeting (2019)

His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, President of NFABD with AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, AFC Vice President Zaw Zaw and committee members at the conference. PHOTO: AFC

BY James Kon

His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, President of the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) attended the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) Social Responsibility Conference and the Social Responsibility (SR) Committee Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia recently.

The second AFC Social Responsibility Conference underlined the power of football to inspire hope and strengthen communities across Asia.

“The AFC has always placed significant emphasis on using football as an enabler for social development. Asia is a vast continent with its unique set of challenges and by bringing everyone together, this conference aims to increase our chances for success,” AFC Social Responsibility Committee Chairman Zaw Zaw said during the conference.

“Across the continent, we are seeing the incredible impact of football to inspire hope not only with AFC’s activities and programmes, but also through the concerted efforts of all our stakeholders – our member associations, NGOs as well as corporate partners.

“Our partnership is stronger than ever, and we are in the best possible position to fulfill our purpose to empower communities and ensure the game continues to create a meaningful legacy on those who need it the most.”

The landmark conference kicked off with a strong focus on one of the five AFC social responsibility pillars – children and youth. Led by FIFA Senior Child Safeguarding and Protection Manager Kathryn Leslie, delegates were presented with an in-depth overview on the new FIFA Child Safeguarding Programme and Toolkit launched in July this year.

Participants also gleaned insights on the Scort Foundation’s highly successful Young Coach Education programme in Vietnam before representatives from UNICEF Malaysia and Indochina Starfish Foundation from

Cambodia joined the dialogue alongside FIFA, on the best practices and approaches to ensure stronger child safeguarding measures in sport.

Marc-Andre Buchwalder from Scort Foundation said, “It is good to have all the people working on social responsibility projects in one room. This is a good opportunity for them to discuss, meet and exchange ideas. It is vital through this conference for staff in different member associations to talk to the organisations and key speakers to understand what they are trying to accomplish.”

Social inclusion was another key theme of the conference with a presentation by Brian Suskiewicz from Coaches Across Continents, who shared the work undertaken to empower the Rohingya community from the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

The year-long project, conducted in partnership with the AFC, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Bangladesh Football Federation and the Football Association of England, has been instrumental in strengthening the capabilities and pool of football coaches, who in turn, are spreading the joys of the game to nearly 10,000 children directly under their care.

Other speakers included representatives from the India Blind Sports Association (IBSA) and Indian Blind Football Federation (IBFF) and Mongolian Football Federation on life changing projects in their countries.

Deputy General Secretary of the Mongolian Football Federation (MFF) Munkhzul Chuluunbat said, “This conference gives a platform to everyone to learn from one another. Through football we can achieve and reach out to different communities. I’m delighted to be invited by the AFC to share MFF’s social responsibility initiatives. I hope this conference will motivate more member associations to create social responsibility programmes in their country.”

The conference concluded on a high note with the Chinese Football Association sharing their plans on utilising the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 as a catalyst to maximise the social and health of the hundreds of millions as the country prepares to stage Asia’s most prestigious football tournament in 2023.

Meanwhile, at the AFC’s Social Responsibility (SR) Committee Meeting for the cycle 2019-2023, AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa pledged that the AFC will continue to use the power of football to benefit communities in need across Asia in the coming years.

“Unfortunately, there are many people in Asia who are living in difficult circumstances. The AFC believes that football can not only be a sport, but also a force to bring good and hope to many people. We have carried out a lot of projects – many providing humanitarian aid – but we can still do more.”

Through the AFC Dream Asia Foundation, he said, “We know that football can make a difference and bring a positive change to people across the continent.”

Zaw Zaw, who is also AFC Vice President, added, “The role of this committee is to do more to help and to serve those who need us the most.

“Under the leadership and guidance of our president, the AFC has strengthened its belief to use football as an important tool for social development. More than 20 member associations have been impacted by our SR programmes.”

-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin