how we work

For three months in the rural village of Villa Nueva, Guatemala, love.fútbol co-founders Drew Chafetz and Alfredo Axtmayer embarked on a mission to provide the raw materials and support to build a community-led football pitch project. They weren't there to just give the community a brand new field --- they were there to empower the locals to take ownership of the project with their own hands. With a 90% participation rate of local households, Drew and Alfredo found success in Villa Nueva and love.fútbol hasn't looked back ever since.

Fast forward ten years and love.fútbol has since worked in diverse communities and environments, including the Americas and even the African continent. Our years of experience on the ground is found in our love.fútbol Project Execution Manual. The manual is a comprehensive guide on how love.fútbol projects are implemented: from strategies regarding local mobilization to how to structure community Build Days, and best practices for the long-term use and management of the football facility, every part of the process is laid out for love.fútbol staff and community leaders to follow. 

We are driven by these principles:

I. Local Reality, Local Solution

Every neighborhood in the world is different. Each has its story, culture, traditions, leadership structure (both formal and informal) and social dynamics that make it unique. To understand people and their interests and goals, we approach each community with a framework of questions, rather than just answers. Working together in this way, a project that respects the dynamics of the community while promoting our core values can be achieved. In designing durable and low maintenance pitches, we take into account the local reality as well as the community’s potential to sustain and maximize the use of the space over time. 

II. Asset-Based Community Development

All communities -- even the most underserved -- possess skills, leaders, resources, and assets. We use an asset mapping exercise with the communities that help them discover their existing strengths and activate them throughout the project. As a result, locals develop a newfound recognition, understanding and confidence in their inherent ability to make a difference with what is already available in the community. 

III. Community-Driven Development

From the beginning of the project, community members are called upon to participate and lead the way forward. We provide the framework for local leaders to step up and take ownership over the project process, allowing them to express their opinions, debate, and build a collective sense of shared responsibility with the local municipality and partners regarding the long-term management of the space.

IV. Social Capital Network

We engage communities to connect with shared resources, building collective goodwill and strengthening relationships across numerous local individuals and organizations. A community-driven project lays the foundation for play and future growth by creating a structure and network of social capital that continues to evolve and develop within the community long after the construction of the space. 

The phases of planning, construction, and management are an opportunity to bring together and activate different groups and local assets. As a result, community-led leadership and organization take center stage and occur throughout the project and beyond. A project takes an average of four months to complete. 

A love.fútbol project has six phases:

1. DISCOVERY

love.fútbol works with partners to identify prospective communities, establish initial contacts, and gather as much information about the area for a potential future project. 

2. EVALUATION

This phase involves an on-site survey and study of the culture, history and local dynamics of the community. Potential locations for the project are reviewed, and local resources and partners are evaluated as the local assets, social capital and strengths of the community are mapped out. Preliminary estimates for the project are drawn up at this time as well.  

3. MOBILIZATION

This is when the project becomes more than a field, but a true community-building experience. love.fútbol identifies the leaders, local know-how, and talents that exist within the community and activates them through the formation of a Local Committee. This group leads the project's execution by mobilizing and guiding fellow community members through the following phases. 

4. CONSTRUCTION

This is when ideas are put into practice and the field begins to take shape as a symbol of unity. love.fútbol provides the raw materials, technical and safety conditions, while local volunteers are engaged in Build Days alongside project partners and sponsors. On average, 2,500 hours of volunteer work go into a community-driven project.

5. INAUGURATION

Now's the time to celebrate the achievement of building the field! love.fútbol organizes a fun opening ceremony with the community, complete with local cultural presentations, awards and, of course, the first games on the new field.

6. POST-PROJECT

Finally, the Post-Project Phase is when our core objective of creating a field that serves as a sustainable platform for long-term social change comes into play. love.fútbol facilitates a transition from the Local Committee to a more robust Neighbors’ Network. Members of the Neighbors' Network maintain the facility led by a shared sense of ownership, responsibility, and leadership. This network will continue to evolve and bring about positive change in the community through activities both on and around the field after the construction process is complete.

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