Can sport bring cultures together?

Malmö FF and FC Barcelona - Football Against Racism

Sweden - Staffan Tapper, head of Malmö FF under 21 team

The City of Malmö in Sweden is a member of ECCAR, a network against racism launched by UNESCO. In August this year FC Barcelona’s U-17 team were invited to play a friendly against Malmö FF’s U-17, the game was played under the banner ‘Football Against Racism’. Earlier this year, FC Barcelona signed a partnership with UNESCO to combat racism in football.

African American polo team compete in Nigeria

The United States - Lezlie Hiner, founder of Work to Ride

In 1999, the Work to Ride polo team became the first African American polo team in the nation, and in 2005 the team won the Eastern Regional Interscholastic Polo tournament.  As the only African American polo team the Work to Ride players are ambassadors for the sport and play polo all across America in youth tournaments. For 3 years running the team has competed in Nigeria at the 5th Chukker Emir of Katsina Charity Shield Polo Tournament and participate in cultural exchanges with local private, rural and nomadic school children.

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Vålerenga Football Club against racism

Norway - Rannveig Sundelin, Community Manager, Vålerenga Against Racism

Vålerenga Football Club is one of the largest clubs in Norway. The club is based in Oslo, the capital, which is a multicultural city. Every year we hold a tournament for kids from local schools, aged between 10 and 13. It’s run in association with the Norwegian Football Federation and was founded by Vålerenga Football club. The focus is on Fair Play, respect, colorful football, good values, and not results. We visit schools prior to the tournament with A-team-players to talk about our values. The tournament day also includes entertainment and food.

European Athletics – UNESCO Young Leaders Forum

Belgium - Owen Malone, Belgian Athletics Federation

Owen Malone, member of the Belgium Athletics Federation explaining how the prospect of meeting athletes from across Europe encouraged him to take part in the European Athletics – UNESCO Young Leaders Forum.

Grass Boots FC represents the Rainbow Nation

South Africa - Stuart Diamond, founder of Grass Boots FC

Grass Boots FC was setup to ensure that kids living in the City Bowl (a more privileged part of Cape Town), could connect with children from disadvantaged areas, through the MyLifE Foundation (and other organizations) to get the best training possible. Having been in operation for less than a year, the success of this program was seen when our multi-cultural under-13 team, won first place in the U13A Tygerberg League. The team’s success was due to the hard-work and collaboration between Grass Boots FC, MyLifE Youth Coaches and support from the local community. The club offers training sessions for the kids both during season and in the holidays and has also facilitated coaching clinics and development for the MylifE Youth Coaches. The Grass Boots FC is a healthy, active entity with over 110 members and the boys by their attendance know that the club is a safe welcoming place for them.

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Wrestling helps bring Nigerians together

Nigeria - Mohammed Baba Abdullahi, President of the Traditional Sports Association of Nigeria

The Traditional Sports Association of Nigeria has been working to promote wrestling across the country for the past five years. Wrestling was one of the most popular sports across the West African region before the introduction of football and other sports with origins in Europe. Champion wrestlers were also highly respected in their communities and would travel widely to compete against wrestlers from other tribes. So what we are trying to do is help raise the profile of wrestling again here in Nigeria as a way of encouraging respect among tribes. We offer financial help to wrestlers who want to compete in competitions in other parts of the country. We also assist the Nigerian wrestling team to attend the West Africa Games organized once a year by ECOWAS (Economic Community Of West African States).

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Skateboard Programme bridges social divides in Cape Town

South Africa - Gary Wagenheim, Managing Director of the MylifE Project

The MylifE Skateboard Program is a new initiative which has been setup in partnership with Sypda Ramps (a local ramp building company). This program is aimed at youth and kids in both the inner-city and outer-city of Cape Town. We are proposing training programs for youth and kids, local competitions as well as ramp building workshops. We will host one big contest annually at the main skate park which will allow our trained athletes to compete against other skateboarders in South Africa. Spyda Ramps has successfully constructed three concrete skate-parks in high-risk communities with the support of City Council, with one more underway in the inner-city Gardens district of Cape Town. Our current goal is to create a further 20 skate parks over the next two to three year. Skate parks bring together enthusiasts from all cultures in a positive and uplifting environment. 

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Youth Development through Football in Durban

South Africa - Portia Mohube Diketane, Ambassador for the GTZ Youth Development Programme

It all started in 2007 when I was selected by Dlala Ntombazana – a woman football development team to be one of the six youth leaders to represent South Africa in Paraguay for the Street Soccer for Hope Tournament. Early 2008, through Dlala Ntombazana I joined Altus Sports and GTZ/Youth Development through Football (YDF).  I started travelling a lot to different provinces in South Africa introducing the YDF programme and sharing my Paraguay experiences.  I was also appointed as a Youth Leader and Volunteer for Altus Sports – doing the Life is a Ball and Read and Writing Programmes in the Primary and Secondary in the Townships.  The Life is a Ball consists of different sporting skills and life skills.  Through this programme kids are educated, empowering to overcome challenges through sport. During 2008 I was selected to become the Ambassador of YDF during the 2010 FIFA World Cup parallel youth development programmes.

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South Africa - Nomawethu Sokoyi, Field Coordinator for Soccer for Hope

South Africa - Nancy McLennan, UNESCO Section for Youth, Sport and Physical Education

UNESCO partnered with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in the organization of the 7th World Conference on Sport, Education and Culture: “Giving a Voice to Youth” held  from 5 to 7 December in Durban, South Africa. While in South Africa, I had the opportunity to visit a Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) ‘Youth Development through Football’ (YDF) project site in KwaDukuza. Together with the UNESCO Deputy Director-General, Getachew Engida, and the Deputy Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, Elizabeth Longworth, I witnessed the power and potential of sport in youth development and community cohesion and explored linkages between our Organizations’ work in the field of sport for development and peace. Initiated in 2007, the project aims to empower young girls and boys to shape their own future and to deal with social issues through sport. We spoke with the team leaders and youth involved and participated in the award of certificates to recent graduates of the YDF coaching programme. Even the UNESCO Deputy Director-General couldn’t resist joining the youth in a game of football! Media advisory

Virtus Vecomp Verona Football Club fans say no to racism

© Virtus Fans
Italy - Enrico Di Angelis, member of Vitus Fans

Italy - Enrico Di Angelis, member of Vitus Fans

In September this year an anti-discrimination event was held in the Italian city of Verona. The event was organized by fan group, Virtus Fans, who support Virtus Vecomp Verona Football Club, who play in the Italian fourth division. The event looked at ways of using sport to bring varying cultures together and preventing racism in Verona which has a high immigrant population with people from Africa, Latin America and Roma from Eastern Europe. In recent times there has been a lot of racial unrest on and off the football field in our city. So we decided to gather local sports professionals, academics, community leaders and businessmen for debates including Sport and Rights, Business vs Passion”, live music and a mini football tournament.