IFAD – Cambiando il mondo, un goal alla volta

The yellow and blue flags of Frosinone Calcio football club shone bright against the clear November sky at Benito Stirpe stadium, ninety kilometres south of Rome. Here, they faced off against Cagliari, hoping to strengthen their position at the top of Italy’s Serie B football league.

After a thrilling extra time, packed with penalties and disallowed goals, the match ended in a draw. For IFAD and the people we work with, the event was reason to celebrate.

Over the last few months, Serie B has partnered with IFAD to promote our work and raise awareness of the vital role small-scale farmers play in feeding the world. From airtime on Sky Sports to IFAD’s logo and tagline – investing in rural people – appearing on the pitch-side screens, the partnership brought our important message to millions of people in Italy and around the world.

At the match, IFAD President, Alvaro Lario, joined the President of Lega Serie B, Mauro Balata, and the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antonio Tajani, to highlight how the partnership can make a difference in the lives of rural people.

“Serie B wholeheartedly supports IFAD and its projects, which not only develop sustainable agriculture but also enhance the incomes of millions of poor rural people,” said Balata.

The next day, Gianluca Lapadula, forward for the Peruvian national team and Cagliari football club (and late equalizer scorer at the match), visited IFAD HQ in Rome. His message was clear. “Football changed my life—and it has the power to change the world if we come together to raise awareness of important issues that often go unheard.”

“One of these is the need to invest in small-scale farmers—including in my home country of Peru. They are key to tackling hunger and climate change, but are held back by poverty.”

For President Lario, the link between football and farmers is clear. “With billions of fans the world over, football can call attention to relevant global issues, like helping rural people lift themselves out of poverty and adapt to climate change. To rise to these challenges, we need the whole world to work together as a team.”