World Health Day is celebrated on the 7th April each year. It has a myriad of aims but as part of its 1000 cities campaign this year, two of the focusses are to
• design cities to promote physical activity, and
• promote active city life and sports for all.
With this in mind, while accessioning books for the library today I read Goal! by Mina Javaherbin and A.G.Ford and thought how appropriate, a story about a group of boys who play soccer in the street in a town in South Africa. They play with a real federation-size football, that was won by Adjani, one of the boys, 'for being the best reader in class'! But, 'the streets are not always safe', and one of the boys has to be on watch. While they are playing another group of boys comes to steal the ball. Despite the hardship, the football-playing group of boys outwit the bullies and continue playing.
This scenario is very foreign to the children I teach, but they like soccer (football) so this book will be read, just like Tim Vyner's World Team is, and with each reading and each discussion their awareness of how some other children live will be heightened and they will appreciate the freedoms and facilities that they can access .
Javaherbin includes an author's note at the end of her book where she says, among other things, 'to this day, in the face of poverty, bully rulers, and unsafe alleys, people play soccer.' What a great discussion starter and a means of debating how sport unifies people. Good time to revisit Morris Gleitzman's Boy Overboard too, all in time for the World Cup.