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CORINTHIANS IN THE COMMUNITY: Football Beyond Borders 

On an muggy summer morning, a group of teenagers took to their local pitch, as they always do, situated in the middle of a large housing estate. Dropping all their worries along the touchline of the pitch, the students stepped onto the well kept green, to take part in their daily serving of The Beautiful Game. Within minutes, the game is in full swing, with the likes of the young Cerny and Marley replicating their Manchester United and Chelsea heroes.

Just a few yards from the exhibition on display, is the headquarters of Football Beyond Borders, an initiative to which all of these teenagers belong to. With their educational projects wrapping up this past week, Corinthian were invited to visit the Brixton based headquarters, to meet some of the people involved in the charity. 

Football Beyond Borders are an education charity, using the power of football to help inspire young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve their goals. Based in Brixton, South London, the football themed project provides the local youth a chance to thrive in a learning environment, bringing together both an academic curriculum with a common love of The Beautiful Game. With over 320 participants across the program, the project continues to bring people together around a common focus.

FBB's mission is simple. To engage with young boys underachieving at school, with the belief that when engagement falls, behavioral issues go up. The program goes out to improve the life chances of disadvantaged boys who do not do well at school, helping them achieve their goals through a well-planned curriculum. 

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Created in 2009, during a conversation on the way home from a University football match, team Captain Jasper Kain challenged the group to travel to the Middle East to play football. The month-long tour that followed had a profound impact on many of the players. The potential of football to act as a tool to engage with a diverse range of issues and communities, from Iraqi refugees in Syria and the Kurds in Turkey, had been proven and had exceeded even the player’s expectations. 

The team then followed up with trips to Turkey, Syria, Brazil, Finland, Germany and many more!

 

A picture from Football Beyond Borders' tour of the Middle East, 2011.

A picture from Football Beyond Borders' tour of the Middle East, 2011.
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The Football Beyond Borders: Middle East 2011 tour was, in particular, a huge achievement for the team. However the tour was just the start for many participants. Since returning home, FBB have made great efforts to relay the power of positivity that their host provided, whether that be through online blogs or actively pursuing campaigns of solidarity with those most affected in the region. 
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"Being able to go to these places and engage with the kids through a mutual love of football was an amazing experience."
-Joe Watfa, Head of Delivery
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Football Beyond Borders has grown a great deal since the Middle East 2011 tour, but the common desire of the team to use the love of the game to bring people together still resonates strongly within the organisation. With additional tours to both Brazil and Bosnia, the team were truly focused on the issues that mattered inside The Beautiful Game. In 2013, the team were instrumental in the 'Red Card Israeli Racism' protest, calling on UEFA to move a U21 tournament away from the country. The extremely successful campaign was capped off with a demonstration outside UEFA's annual congress in London, with FBB standing alongside those united in protesting the issues.  
 
Corinthian 1882 sat down with Joe Watfa, the Head of Delivery at the program, to talk about his admiration for the project. 
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"Sometimes people from the developed world think that just visiting these places is enough, when really you need to be involved and engaged. We visited the Kurdish region of Turkey, and we hosted a match for the local people. Although there has been a lot of conflict in the area, they were happy to drop what they were doing to play a match, and it really showed the love of football is really there. It was really incredible because without that Football connection, I don’t think I would have ever of spoken to these kids or have known even half of what I know about the area that I do today." 
- Joe Watfa, Co-Founder and Head of Delivery.
 

However, following the nearby London riots in 2011, the team switched their attention to the UK-centric operations they focus on today. Using the carrot of football to engage fellow lovers of The Beautiful Game, Football Beyond Borders imbues football into the heart of what they do, teaching new concepts and lessons through relatable scenarios.

 

 

Through this idea, the group this past Easter have created their in-house magazine, detailing the best that South London has to offer. The magazine, 'Oh So South', has created a welcoming platform for the area, promoting the Premier League stars born just around the corner from the center. With contributors including Chelsea's Tammy Abrahams, Arsenal's Reiss Nelson and Crystal Palace winger, Wilfried Zaha. The magazine has given the students the conditions to thrive in their learning, to which has served as a testament to the hard work of the program. 

With clear excitement, we sat down with FBB students Cerny and Marley, to talk to them about their time in the program, as well as their testaments to the importance of the program.

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"When I first came here, the coaches told me they want to help me find a plan B option, by giving me the opportunities to try new things. Just this past Tuesday, we visited 442 Magazine, just to give us different opportunities."  Cerny, 14.
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 "The opportunities we’ve had have been incredible. I’ve been able to interview footballers such as Adebajo Akinfenwa, Copa 90s David Vujanic, as well as the chance to go to many events and to meet new people, it’s been amazing. "  Marley, 14.
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And the students were no strangers to the idea of Sportsmanship, taking the story of the Corinthians as an inspiration to modern day football.

"Nowadays, we see footballers in football who don’t understand what Fair Play means, who think they need to cheat themselves out of a situation. What I like about Corinthian is that the philosophy is very open minded. No one believes in foul play, it’s more about the way that you play."  Cerny, 14.
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"Where Football was played for the love of the game way back when, it’s developed into a sort of business. It’s way too serious I think."  Marley, 14.

 

Keep up to date with all things South London, alongside side all the information you need to get involved in the program! The Football Beyond Borders website can be found, here.

Do you know someone who is a Corinthian in the Community? Let us know by email at Press@Corinthian1882.com!

 

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