The 16-kilometre long, 75-metre wide strip of land is home to some 30,000 people including immigrants from Portugal, Romania, Morocco and South America.
In May 2016, the community was the recipient of a game changing delivery by FedEx: Two shipping containers arrived at Cañada Real containing an artificial turf football field supplied by Dutch company GreenFields. The pitch was assembled and officially inaugurated on the 14th May 2016, at an event attended by FedEx, the UEFA Foundation for Children and streetfootballworld. Earlier that year the three organisations joined forces with Madrid-based network member Red Deporte y Cooperación to identify Cañada Real as an ideal location for such a pitch, based on the potential for community benefit.
streetfootballworld was responsible for developing, managing and implementing the project, while FedEx, the world’s largest express transportation company and Main Sponsor of the UEFA Europa League, funded the project as part of FedEx Cares - a pledge to invest $200 million US Dollars in more than 200 communities by the year 2020. The ‘Field in a Box™’ in Madrid, and planned expansion of the programme, complements FedEx’ professional football sponsorship by using football as a platform to connect people and possibilities in communities around the world.
Local network member Red Deporte y Cooperación maintains the pitch and ensures its sustainable and coordinated use through the employment of a youth coach from the local community and regular football programmes.
“The ‘Field in a Box™’ is something really extraordinary in the landscape of Cañada Real. The reaction of local children to having access to such a facility has been incredible. The pitch provides a safe place where young people are encouraged to gather, and an important arena in which to develop life skills such as respect, dialogue, and a sense of responsibility,” Carlos de Carcer, Founder and CEO, Red Deporte y Cooperación enthused.
streetfootballworld, FedEx, the UEFA Foundation for Children returned to Cañada Real on 27th June 2017, to spectate an anniversary football3 tournament organised by Red Deporte y Cooperación between young local players, and FedEx and TNT employees.
“I’m moved to see for myself the positive impact putting a playing field in this community has had. It’s fantastic to talk to the many young people using the pitch and know that FedEx involvement in projects like this is making a real difference to the people who live here,” said David Binks, President of FedEx Express in Europe and CEO of TNT.
Today, almost 400 children and young adults benefit from the installation of the pitch, approximately 90% of whom are boys and 10% are girls aged between 5 and 30. Nearly 500 football matches have been organised on the field since the grass turf was rolled out.
“Thanks to organisations like FedEx - a brand already committed to the game via its successful UEFA Europa League sponsorship - and their support of the football for good movement, we’re able to connect two worlds: the world of professional football, where the glamour of a tournament unfolds on a global stage, and football on a local level, where the power of this beautiful game is unleashed to drive positive social change,” said Vladimir Borkovic, Network Director streetfootballworld.
“The success of the pitch in Cañada Real is an example of the impact football can have on a local community. Together with FedEx we have already begun work on a second pitch to be built in Mrągowo – a segregated community in north-east Poland where we really look forward to making a difference this summer,” Pascal Torres, General Secretary, UEFA Foundation for Children, noted.