Football Beyond Borders is a not-for-profit organisation that uses football to overcome social, cultural, racial and political boundaries, with the ultimate aim of improving the lives of people in some of the UK and the world’s most deprived regions.
It was started in 2009 by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) football team, whose players decided to embark on a tour to Turkey, Syria and Lebanon after their plan to visit Iran was scuppered by the Iranian election protests of that year. While in these countries the team played against people from eight different nationalities including a number of Iraqi and Palestinian refugees as well as Kurdish separatists; an experience which served as a great inspiration for later members who have continued the good work ever since.
FBB has travelled to West Africa, all over the Middle East and most recently Brazil, where they set up the Favela World Cup to give underprivileged citizens of Salvador de Bahia a taste of the tournament they were too poor to be a part of; this as well as starting the Favela Accommodation Project which sought to divert some of the tourist capital away from the rich business owners and into the pockets of local families by arranging for international visitors to stay with favela residents instead of in inflated-price hotels.
Penalty shoot-out in the Final of the Favela World Cup
Its members and volunteers come from more than 30 countries and embody the very diversity and tolerance which they aim to encourage through their work, which they also carry out in deprived estates in the UK, running training sessions delivered by FA accredited coaches in order to strengthen community relationships and dispel animosity between different cultural groups.
The organisation is also active in other events such as the Play to Remember Rwanda tournament, set up by former Rwandan goalkeeper Eric Murangwa, a Tutsi, who escaped murder by Hutu death squad during the Rwandan Genocide by showing his captors a photograph of him playing for the country’s most successful club.
Football Beyond Borders with Football for Hope, Peace & Unity’s Team Rwanda Football team at ‘Play to Remember’
FBB depends on its supporters to continue to deliver its programmes and keep breaking down barriers.
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