Open Fun Football Schools - uniting people through football

UEFA’s social responsibility partner, the Denmark-based Cross Cultures Project Association (CCPA) has been running successful Open Fun Football Schools across Europe - using football to promote peace and social cohesion.

Football fun for youngsters in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Football fun for youngsters in Bosnia and Herzegovina ©OFFS

UEFA’s long-standing social responsibility partner, the Denmark-based Cross Cultures Project Association (CCPA), is continuing its outstanding social and humanitarian work in Bosnia and Herzegovina by launching a new series of its popular Open Fun Football Schools.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is hosting ten Open Fun Football Schools for over 2,000 girls and boys from 25 municipalities – continuing two decades of work that has broken down ethic barriers, reconciled people and introduced thousands of children to the joys of football.

The actions across the country will involve children, coaches, parents and wider local community stakeholders in peace-building, inclusive activities using grassroots football.

CCPA first introduced the Open Fun Football Schools programme in war-torn Bosnia in 1998, and the programme since taken place across 20 summers. The aim was to deploy football as a tool to promote the process of democracy, peace, stability, fellowship and social cohesion. 

The “fun football” approach, with children and youngsters as a crucial focal point, has been successful in bringing people from different groups in the country together to play, interact and have fun.

The ongoing activities currently taking place in Bosnia has seen teams of trained volunteers implement the Open Fun Football Schools concept in their respective communities. The concept specifically provides for cooperation between communities of different ethnic backgrounds.

Learning to play the game
Learning to play the game©OFFS

CCPA is an international politically independent, non-profit organisation that strives to develop, participate in and implement projects cutting across cultural lines, and which has as its main objective the promotion of reconciliation, social integration and civil society participation through dialogue and collaboration. 

Since 2001, as part of its social responsibility portfolio, UEFA has given significant support to the CCPA’s Open Fun Football Schools activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Introducing football to the young
Introducing football to the young©OFFS

Thanks to UEFA’s backing, some 421,000 boys and girls have taken part in 2,147 Open Fun Football Schools across the continent. The past years have seen a 40% girls’ participation rate in all activities. 

Such activities have been organised for, among others, refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), children with special needs, children with disabilities and orphans. In addition, over 38,000 leaders, coaches and coach assistants throughout Europe have been trained to play a crucial educational role. Some 11,000 of the 38,000 coaches that have been trained are female.

UEFA has provided funds for sports equipment used fir the implementation of projects in local communities. As a result, CCPA has been able to distribute footballs, bibs, cones and many other items – helping over 2,700 new community sports clubs and teams that are organising grassroots football on their own, for children and youngsters on a day-to-day basis.