What brought us the yeat 2016? Swiss-czech cooperation and much more!

Football for development has its own history full of great exchanges between the Kenyan and the Czech youth. Many new stories, memories and strong frienships have been created during these past 10 years. However, we wanted to go further and give people what football for development really is, as it is not just a programme which runs once a year for a month in different regions of the Czech Republic. Football in general - as the most popular sport in the world - brings people together and they carry it in their hearts. It raises many strong emotions and with the addition of development issues it is impossible to see Football for development just as another common project. It is a vision and a belief. It is a tool for youth workers to pass important life messages to their youngsters through a simple, popular game.

So how did fotball for development continue its own development?

Let's go to the very beginning, when we weren't even aware of a new collaboration and friendship that was about to be established between two organizations. It all started as a volunteering experience for the now head of the Football for development project Štepán Kyncl who prepared mediation at Respect your health Eurocamp 2012 organized by Streetfoootballworld. Around 250 young people from disadvantaged social backgrounds from all 53 UEFA nations joined the event for five days of intercultural workshops, football, learning and fun. It was a perfect opportunity to meet similar minded people. It was an occasion which gave space to create, learn and share. Among other participants, Štepán met Samuel Bieri, who is a representative of the Swiss organization Sport - The Bridge.

It started as a friendship but it was followed by a realisation of similar thinking and ideas. Both of them had their own experience and skills, working on their own projects in their home countries. Similar topics and target groups, different ideas, experience and approaches.

This is how the idea of collaboration between the two organizations was born and the upgrade began as a project called »Football as a bridge for inclusion of Youth at risk« supported by the Czech-Swiss contribution programme. Sharing of good practise was divided into three seminar meetings with Swiss experts, Football for development team and the youth workers from the Czech Republic in the course of one year.

Oficially, we can call them seminar meetings, but it was more than just that. They were gatherings of new and old friends, people with similar points of view, trying to put ideas together and find a new, creative way of how to bring children from different backgrounds together and pass important life messages on them through football. To go further, it was not about fullfilling our work duties but about our own personal believes and longings for being part of the change we want to see in the world. We wanted to make Football for development a tool and a technique used by youth workers on a daily basis with children and not just once a year when the Czech-Kenyan team of ambassadors comes around.

And what are the outcomes?

There are different crucial outcomes, even though they are not tangible:
In general, we can say that thanks to the program and partnership we fulfilled the message of this year quote „Football is more than you think“ in the meaning that „Fotbal pro rozvoj“ (Football for development), a term related so far to project, turned into a whole initiative, a term which means much more – an essential thought, tool and technique. The Swiss-Czech cooperation gave the project much more strength and significance.

We created a completely new concept – a year-round activities for Football for development and learned about possibilities of expanding our project internationally thanks to the Swiss experts who shared their experience, knowledge and proven methods. They pointed out the potential problems and played significant roles in creating the basis of a new concept.

We managed to develop a Football for development toolkit, which will be of great help for every young Czech worker or individual who wants to use football as their tool of working with children but don’t have the skill and the practice yet. We also made a short documentary movie showing how the project worked in practice (it will be published in the following days).

Last but not least, thanks to the changes made while running the project and the fact that Sport the Bridge is the member of the network Streetfootballworld, we were able to prepare properly the request for our membership as well. In July we achieved it and became a member of the most important network in our professional area – Streetfootballworld (the biggest international platform of organizations which deals with sport for good and sport for development!).

Detailed description of the seminars including the related outputs (reports, photos, articles) you can find here.