10 years of Karanba


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Lars Peder Solstad with Tommy Nilsen.

Lars Peder Solstad with Tommy Nilsen.

Karanba celebrates 10 years anniversary with tournament for sponsors and friends.

The tournament took place on December 1, 2016 on the Leme beach in Rio de Janeiro. It is actually the third time that Karanba organizes this tournament for players and supporters, but this year, the tournament also marked the 10 year anniversary of the Norwegian NGO, created by former professional football player Tommy Nilsen in 2006.

Statoil, Farstad and Solstad Shipping, Aker and Kongsberg were among the sponsoring companies participating in the tournament where they played against one male and one female Karanba team.

The victorious team was Farstad Shipping, not unexpected according to Tommy Nilsen, as almost all the Farstad players are former Karanba players.

Solstad Shipping´s CEO Lars Peder Solstad was also participating, and his presence demonstrates how highly he and his company value the work that Karanba is and has been doing for young Brazilians the last ten years.

For Tommy, «Karanba» is a wordplay on the word «caramba», a common Brazilian expression that very well describes how Tommy felt when he first saw the enormous social and economic inequalities in Brazil.

2016 has been an particularly challenging year, but to Tommy Nilsen and Karanba, priorities have not changed since the beginning, 10 years ago.

«Our focus is and has always been on the core values of Karanba, on football, on education, on discipline, love and attention. This is what we feel that children and young people need to start believing in themselves and in the opportunities for a better life and a better future. You have to care, give attention and show them that we are here for them», Tommy Nilsen says.

These are core values that follow the organization despite the adaptations the Karanba organization has been forced to do this last year, due to the difficult situation in the Brazilian economy.

Karanba uses football as a motivation and tries to influence the young, and in many cases unprivileged, participants to do something about their lives.

«Over the years, we have increased the focus on learning and education and this also happened as a consequence of the financial support we have had from company sponsors and stakeholders.»

One of several highlights on this ten year ride of Karanba was the first class of seaman that graduated, thanks to the close cooperation between Karanba and Farstad Shipping. Many of them are employed by Farstad today, and many of them were also on the winning team in the tournament in the beginning of December.

«This is probably the best example on how we are able to change live and create a future for the participants and their families. This class has also served as an example to other participants and made them believe that they actually have a chance to improve their lives». Mr. Nilsen says.

As Christmas is coming up, Tommy Nilsen is clear on what is on top of his wish list this year.

«Probably what many with me are wishing for this Christmas: Financial stability and a more stable economy. A more predictable future for the daily activities of our organization, 2016 has been challenging and we have seen sponsors reducing their support as a consequence of both the international and the Brazilian economic crisis.»

Despite some difficulties, Karanba has received several high level visitors this last year, among them the Norwegian ministers of Culture, Olympic athletes, the Norwegian minister of Children and equality and many others.

«The support we have received from the Norwegian government the last four years is priceless, and thanks to this financial support, we have been able to develop our organization and focus more on education, as I mentioned earlier. This is very important to us, and we are very pleased that Norwegian ministers take time to visit us when the visit Brazil. This shows that there are people back in Norway that also appreciate what we have accomplished here», Tommy Nilsen says.

But still, Karanba is in many ways a dream come true to Mr. Nilsen.

«I have always had a clear vision on what I wanted Karanba to be, and I feel we have taken many steps in the right direction. The participation here today demonstrates this. We have been able to create opportunities for a better live for many young participants, so yes, Karanba has definitely become what I dreamt it would be.»

By Runa Hestmann, NBCC journalist