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Reflecting on 2022, Shaka Hislop President of SRtRC

It’s that time of year again. That time where I wonder how time flies, where the year has gone, and reflect on all that the last 12 months has given us.

For me, it was a year that has given more than I felt deserving of. And for that I’d like to thank every single one of you who have supported the campaign, volunteered, worked, raised funds, sponsored, taken part in our talks or workshops, those of you who have been willing to have those uncomfortable conversations around water coolers or dinner tables, or in school playgrounds, in an effort to nudge our humanity forward.

That is where the greatest differences are made.

The year closed with the World Cup. A tournament mired in controversy from the moment Sepp Blatter announced Qatar as the 2022 hosts back in 2010. The FIFA World Cup is a tournament I love! We’ll all remember the winners, the record-breakers, the next stars that emerge. But for me the World Cup represents the beautiful game like no other competition. It’s where the world comes together in competition and celebration. It’s a place where our differences are acknowledged and embraced. It’s where we immerse ourselves in the culture of our rivals. I went to the France-Morocco semi-final, and watched with a smile, a Moroccan fan show a French fan how to properly tie his kaffiyeh before the game. No selfies were taken (though I really wish I had quietly taken a photo myself), just an honest, heart-warming exchange between two fans moments before their teams were about to sqaure off for the right to play in World football’s biggest game.

While there is still a lot for Qatar, and even more so for FIFA, to answer regarding this year’s tournament, I am heartened by the chorus of voices who were asking. While a lot of it was self-serving, and to a lesser extent disingenuous, by the very asking they are moving the, and their own, needles toward progress. The questioning of another’s progress is a promise to hold yourself to that higher standard, to do better.

It has been a year of reflection, renewed promises and retooling for us here at SRtRC as well. Growth is never easy. But the lack of it can never be an option. As the support of the work we do has grown, we similarly have to ask more and better ourselves. As an organisation we have shown that we are prepared to ask those questions, and continue to look to find the answers. We are better than we were yesterday.

Congrats to Argentina, and to the genius that is Lionel Messi. You will be remembered as the victors in what is already being labeled as the best World Cup tournament ever, punctuated by what may very well be the best final ever. And to think it all started with the most bizarre press conference I had ever seen, but I digress…It is your names who will deservedly be marked in history. This tournament has again shown that this game is about so much more than winners and second place finishers. Football as a game is zero-sum, but as an example it is anything but. Football has always been that example for us, one of the under-pinning’s of the education work that we do. Qatar 2022 has given us a lot to remember, a lot to celebrate, a lot to question and a lot to answer. Of ourselves and each other. Often in equal measure. Thank you 2022, we needed that.

 

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