Spotlight: Interview with HRH Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, Founder of AFDP Global
Your Royal Highness, thank you for taking the time to speak with Soccerex.
It’s my pleasure.
You have enjoyed a long and varied career in football governance. How did this involvement start?
I started my involvement in football governance almost twenty years ago as President of the Jordan Football Association. At the time I was around the same age as the players so that helped give me a unique connection to the players and an understanding of their needs and ambitions. I’ve always believed that football is the most powerful common language in the world and can be an immense force for unity. That belief and understanding played a big part in my decision to found the West Asian Football Federation and has been a huge influence on my various executive roles at both the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA. I was elected as FIFA Vice President representing Asia in 2012 and at that time, I founded my social enterprise [AFDP now called AFDP Global] and began to focus my efforts on helping communities in need through social development projects.
You’ve certainly been involved at all levels of the game – nationally, regionally and globally. Are there any highlights that particularly stand out over the course of your career so far?
The world of football is a complex one and comes with its own challenges. Achieving change can be difficult or take longer than we would like, but then when a breakthrough occurs, it’s an amazing feeling! The end to FIFA’s ban on headscarves felt like such a breakthrough and I’m reminded of it every time I watch a girls’ or women’s game and see players able to enjoy football regardless of their background or culture. The growth in the number of members of the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) and the number of teams competing in the AFC Champions League are also very important to me. On reflection, my decisions to start AFDP and then to take the organisation Global are both clear highlights. This area of work has really influenced my whole view of what football can and should achieve.
So tell us more about AFDP – how it started and how it became AFDP Global?
I started AFDP shortly after I had been elected as FIFA Vice President representing Asia. I wanted the organisation to give back to the continent by developing the grassroots game, giving opportunities to disadvantaged young people and making football more inclusive. At AFDP we learnt a lot about the impact football can have and how, even with modest budgets, you can transform communities. We then launched the organisation as AFDP Global at the Emirates Stadium last month as the vision now is to have an impact internationally, not just in Asia.
So, in short, what is AFDP Global’s goal?
AFDP Global funds, supports and partners with organisations to unite and transform communities through football. We offer insight, expertise and management support to develop football projects that tackle social issues, deliver sustainable impact and improve lives in communities in need. And there are no limits to where we will work.
How will AFDP Global be different to AFDP as it was?
Our core values and the way we work remain the same. Leadership, empowerment, integrity and accountability remain at the heart of everything we do.
Our previous projects have shown me that football really can have a global impact. I’ve seen at-risk girls in Cambodia graduate from our Mighty Girls project to become core members of the Cambodian women’s football team. And, thanks to AFDP Global, a group of talented Syrian refugee teenagers are now training at Brazil’s Black Pearls Football Academy. They won full scholarships in April 2018 after taking part in a try-out we organised with Viva Rio. At that time, the teenagers were living at the Zataari refugee camp.
I really believe that if football can have this impact in Cambodia or Zaatari, then it can transform lives in any context. That’s why, through AFDP Global, we want new and existing partners to join with us to make this happen.
AFDP Global is now headquartered in London and I’m very pleased that we have assembled an impressive team of advisors and trustees to support the management and leadership. What’s fundamentally different is the scale of ambition – we’re here to have a genuinely global impact, uniting communities around the world, promoting respect and tolerance for others, fostering team spirit and developing talent.
Is that why you’re coming to Soccerex USA – to find new partners for this important work?
Soccerex USA is a great opportunity to raise awareness about the new AFDP Global and what we’ve set out to achieve following our official launch last month. We’re hosting a session in the afternoon on Thursday 15th to introduce people to the organisation.
But yes, you’re right that the ultimate aim is to strengthen existing friendships and build new relationships with individuals and organisations that share our vision for football. This work is already underway – we are proud to have partnered with Soccerex and to have strengthened existing partnerships with the UEFA Foundation, Streetfootballworld and La Liga. But with a vision to do more on a global scale, we need partners from around the world and we’re excited about forming new partnerships. AFDP Global’s management team have defined three strong pillars for the organisation: social impact, partnerships and sustainability. So we are looking for partners who want to create sustained change, through football, over generations. I know Soccerex USA is a perfect space to start those conversations.
Thank you for speaking with us. We look forward to hosting you in Miami.
Thank you. I know the whole AFDP Global team are excited to be joining you.
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