Football as a force for good - the Malaika story

The principle that underpins this week’s Hyundai A-League Harmony Round is, of course, football’s ability to bring people together and make a positive difference.

And that principle is being put very much into practice by Malaika, a not-for-profit organisation based in DR Congo and supported by our match sponsors this weekend, 1620 Capital.

Founded in 2007 by Noella Coursaris Musunka, a Congolese/Cypriot model and humanitarian, Malaika’s mission is to empower Congolese girls and their communities via a range of education and health programs.

Malaika - children at desk


DR Congo, Africa’s second-largest country has tragically been ravaged by conflict for the past 20 years, with devastating social and economic consequences for large sections of its population.

More than six million people have died as a result of violence, disease and displacement linked to the conflict, while educational and community facilities have been decimated.

In Kalebuka, the area where Malaika is based, literacy rates among women and young people are as low as 8%, rendering the organisation’s free, accredited school for girls absolutely vital.

In addition to offering a free education, the school also provides each student with two healthy meals a day and since its doors opened in 2011, student numbers have risen from 104 to almost 300.

Malaika whole school


So where’s the football connection?

That comes in the form of the Kalebuka Football for Hope Centre, a community facility that offers education, health and sports programs to approximately 7000 people in the local area.

Malaika partnered with FIFA to build the centre in 2013 and sport for development is a cornerstone of their overall objectives.

A member of the street football world network, they have partnered with Coaches Across Continents for a program that educates coaches in how to inspire social change through football using four main modules: Football for Conflict Resolution and Social Inclusion, Football for Health and Wellness, Football for Female Empowerment and Football for Life Skills.

Malaika team shot


The organisation's outstanding work and close football links made them a perfect fit for 1620 Capital according to Senior Executive, John Boardman.

"1620 is involved in a number of different business ventures in DR Congo," he said, "and we identified Malaika as an extremely worthwhile cause. 

"After a number of visits to the facilities and meetings with the management, teachers and pupils, we determined that we'd like to get involved.

"A number of the senior management team, including myself, have a lifelong affinity with football and it's genuinely inspiring to see the world game being used in such a positive way.

"We're very proud to be playing our part in helping Malaika improve the lives of local children in this part of DR Congo."

If you want to find out more about the Kalebuka Football for Hope Centre and Malaika's marvellous work and ways in which you can help, click HERE.

With thanks to Eileen Walmsley and Noella Coursaris Musunka