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In this Community Spotlight, we speak to Jasper Kain, cofounder of Football Beyond Borders.

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Sport has long been considered one of the glues of humanity, something that can bring different communities together and spark meaningful dialogue. The folks over at Football Beyond Borders (FBB) have put that idea into action, using sport — and football in particular — to tackle inequality.

The London-based non-profit organization began its work back in 2009 by taking English students to the Middle East and Africa, where they used football as a vehicle for cultural exchange and learning. Since then, FBB has taken on a number of projects both at home and abroad that focus on empowering disadvantaged communities.

In Brazil, FBB is using the World Cup as a springboard for new projects, including an English language learning program in Salvador, a program to accommodate visiting fans at homes in the favela Alto de Paciencia, and the ‘Favela World Cup,’ which will join traveling fans with players from the Salvador area.

Eight by Eight caught up with Jasper Kain, one of FBB’s founders, to talk about organization’s mission and how football has the potential to inspire positive change.

What is the mission of Football Beyond Borders?

Our mission is to use the power of football to inspire young people to achieve their personal goals and make a positive contribution to their own societies. The FBB methodology combines football  training sessions, delivered by FA-qualified coaches, with mentoring programs focused on giving educational and employment support to young people in some of London’s most deprived estates.

How has the focus of the organization changed or evolved since its inception?

FBB began with an explicitly internationalist focus, aiming to build bridges between different nations and cultures around the world and raise awareness of global issues. While we still maintain this goal, we also recognized that issues of disempowerment, inequality and prejudice that we were seeking to address abroad are just as prevalent in our own communities in the UK. We now focus on developing lasting international partnerships whilst building strong networks to support disempowered communities in London.

How does FBB see football as an agent of change?

Football is the most popular sport in the world — it is a global language which wields significant power to influence the lives of different sections of society, particularly the most underprivileged. We believe this ability to bring people together from different backgrounds and inspire others to take action should be harnessed. In a world where inequality and discrimination remains, we believe that football, despite suffering from these similar trends, can be used as a powerful vehicle to change this.

What are your hopes for FBB in the medium to long term?

Our long term aim is to become one of the leading grassroots football organizations in the UK. We are hoping to expand Youth Beyond Borders across London and establish an FBB headquarters which will act as a community hub and football facility. We’re also hoping to step up our campaigning side to become an influential voice in British society.

How can someone get involved with FBB?

We have many different opportunities available depending on what your skills are. If you’re a good writer you can contribute to our blog or website, if you are good at organizing events you could get involved with Our Big Gig project, or if you feel you could mentor young people to achieve their goals you could volunteer with Youth Beyond Borders in Camberwell. Just email us with a bit of background and your skills and we’ll take it from there.

Who is your favorite footballer?

We have a few different heroes who come up in conversation, but many FBB members will probably cite the Brazilian Socrates as a favorite. We often tweet a link to the Football Rebels documentary about him, as his story and his commitment to democracy is so inspiring. We are also good friends and huge admirers of the Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak. He was imprisoned by the Israeli authorities for three years without charge or trial, but managed to secure his release through a three-month hunger strike.

 

You can learn more about Football Beyond Borders by visiting their website, or following them on Twitter at @FBeyondBorders

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