With this article we start a series to present all the 9 #Beinclusive EU Sport Award finalists. The European Commission will reveal the winners of the Award during a ceremony on 4 May 2022. Join the ceremony online that day to find out the winners!
'A ball for all, a goal for inclusion' is the driving ambition of ABALL4ALL - one of the finalist projects run by Greek NGO Orama Neon Youthorama. The founder of the project and current International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Blind Football Chairman 2021-2025, Elias Mastoras, spoke about the achievement of reaching the 2021 #BeInclusive EU Sport Awards Final.
The story behind #ABallforAll
As a finalist in the ‘Inspiring change’ category, Mastoras was himself inspired to make a change through his long-term involvement with blind football – as a referee coordinator of the sport in several Paralympic Games including Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, and Rio 2016. This experience allowed him to gain insight and identify additional needs for blind people. After a visit to a blind children’s school, he soon realised the need for smaller footballs.
Therefore, he developed a patented light sound ball which has reached almost every corner of the globe. In the first three years of the #ABallforAll campaign, more than 8,500 mini blind footballs were distributed in 213 countries and territories encompassing 5 continents. He hopes to distribute free balls and reach eve more countries by the end of this year during the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
From Greece to Kenya, #ABallforAll has already contributed to the wellbeing and inclusion of hundreds of children together with the help of volunteers. The next goal of the project is to expand global awareness on blindness and make society a more accessible space for all.
When reflecting on the project highlights, he recalled a campaign in the summer of 2021 when, as part of the Euro 2021 events held in Budapest, the group distributed a ball to every blind Hungarian child between the age of 1 and 12 in the capital city. Mastoras remarks that the most rewarding moment of the project was “when the children fall asleep with the ball in their hands on their first night.”
Following this success, in collaboration with the BFC Foundation and the Europa League, IBSA is trying to do the same thing in all of schools in Spain. IBSA plans to distribute the balls to the VFC Foundations who will then send the balls and Spanish educational material to around 100 schools.
The #BeInclusive EU Sport Award is very important for all the small NGOs because dreaming big is important for us…
According to Mr Mastoras, the #BeInclusive EU Sport Award “is very important for all the small NGOs because dreaming big is important for us, but we are small.” The Awards help to disseminate work through EU channels, spread the word about important initiatives and increase awareness of smaller NGOs. Following his experience, he encouraged NGOs to take the floor and apply for the 2022 Awards.