The core idea (1998 - )
Open Fun Football Schools was introduced first time to war-torn Bosnia Herzegovina in 1998 building on the experience of how war and ethnic conflicts affect people and their possibilities of returning to a daily life in post conflict areas. Although the wars and conflicts officially may have come to an end many years ago and although the physical frontiers and checkpoints are gone, still major tasks remain to stabilise the post conflict communities. Mistrust, fear, hatred and the former frontlines still linger inside people and dividing parallel structures in local communities are still some of the main challenges to be overcome.
The basic idea was to use the Open Fun Football Schools as tool to create a ‘meeting-place’ where children and adults of different backgrounds could meet across ethnic and social divides and across former frontlines while engaging in an activity of common interest.
The regional approach (2000 - )
In 2000 Cross Cultures was encouraged by the MFA Denmark to build a regional component into the programme in accordance with the EU Peace and Stability Pact Strategy, which was to promote Peace and Stability in the Western-Balkans through Cross Boundary collaboration and through civil society organisations.
Correspondingly Cross Cultures developed a plan on how to develop and expand our operation to one new country per year the following four years. This plan also included a regional strategy on how we could use Open Fun Football Schools to facilitate:
a) cross-boundary cooperation (between nations) and
b) cross-entity cooperation (between antagonistic population groups inside the country).
In accordance with the regional strategy it is a basic principle to Cross Cultures that all the seminars for instructors, leaders and coaches include participants from all countries involved in the regions. Further all Open Fun Football Schools are organised in accordance with the so-called “twin-city-strategy” where football clubs, leaders and coaches from minimum 2 municipalities and 3 football clubs representing hostile population groups – cross entity – organise an Open Fun Football Schools jointly.
Strategic intentions ver. 1 (2002)
On a regional seminar in Banja Vrujci the instructors and local staff of Open Fun Football Schools the participants formulated the strategic intentions ver. 1 of the programme and organisation
To use the Open Fun Football Schools programme as tool to foster peaceful co-existence, tolerance, integration, gender equality and social cohesion between children and adults living in communities divided by war and conflicts.
- To start a children’s grassroots football movement in the region based on the values and principles of Open Fun Football Schools
- Start a children’s grassroots football movement in the world based on the values and principles of Open Fun Football Schools
- More children in the movement
- Further develop the Open Fun Football Schools programme
- Run Open Fun Football Schools all year
- Establish an independent and sustainable Open Fun Football Schools programme
- The fun-football concept applied to schools, institutions, football associations and UEFA
- Education of leaders and coaches under UEFA’s Coach curriculum
- Co-operation with other segments (girls football, children with disabilities, street sport etc.)
Nordic donor platform (2003)
Along with the regional approach Cross Cultures succeeded to form a joined Nordic donor-platform comprising Denmark (1999), Norway (2003), Sida (2004), Finland (2005) and UEFA (2001).
The Children's Grassroots Football Universe (2004)
At a seminar in Banja Vrujci instructors and staff developed ‘The Children´s Grassroots Football Universe’ – or our satellite model below.
To Cross Cultures children’s football does much more than building relations among children, coaches and sports clubs. Children’s football constitutes an important platform in civil society, where people of different backgrounds can meet and bond while discussing: children – welfare – future and the development of children’s football.
In our approach to children’s football we actively involve parents, municipalities, primary schools, local sponsors, national and regional football associations, the local and national media, relevant ministries and many others.
With the child in the centre, it is thus our wish to bring all stakeholders into play. When we organize activities for children, we wish all the stakeholders to have a place and exercise a function: When we activate the children the stakeholders circle like planets around the sun in a Children's Grassroots Football Universe. And when all stakeholders are activated children’s football provides a platform in local community where stakeholders and people of different background can meet and bond.
Sustainability approach (2005)
On a regional seminar for staff and instructors in Ohrid, FYR Macedonia we developed a Triple Balance approach in order to evaluate the success and sustainability of the Open Fun Football Schools.
Correspondently we developed a tool to monitor and evaluate the programme in relation to three areas of concern, which are “Social responsibility”, “Civil Society in action” and Organisational structure. Thus the Triple Balance approach reflects fundamental objectives of the Open Fun Football Schools represented in what we label a red, a green and a blue balance sheet.
Cross Cultures Senior Leaders Academy (2006-07)
In cooperation with the National Olympic Committee & Sports Confederation of Denmark(DIF) and the Danish Football Association (DBU) we launched a Senior Leaders Academy for 3 key persons from each programme country (2 persons representing CCPA and 1 person representing the National FA). The aim of the education was to capacitate the participants how to design, lead and run a project.
The Academy has produced several local projects still existing, i.e. Armenia ‘Fun Football in the P.E. School Curriculum’, Croatia ‘FA c-license curriculum’, Azerbaijan ‘ Football in the back yards’, Bosnia ‘Development of girls football’, Macedonia ‘Open Fun Football Schools as catalyst in the children sports’. Montenegro 'Development of football clubs for pre-school children' et.al.
A new funding strategy (2007)
On the regional seminar in Kaløvig, Denmark followed by a leaders meeting in Trsteno we developed our Fundraising Manual and ‘Sponsor strategy’:
- Cross Culture’s funding strategy in the Balkans and in Trans Caucasus regions and Moldova targets a broad scope of sponsors/partners, which is described in the table below.
- First and foremost Cross Cultures consider it realistic to build a local donor platform involving municipalities, FA and Ministries and private sponsors to finance the national activities. However, Cross Cultures wish to continue to provide equipment for the programme to ensure that Open Fun Football Schools will remain open to both boys and girls and all ethnic, social, political and religious groups.
- Cross Cultures does not find it realistic that local donors will finance for the regional activities, and should the regional activities remain, Cross Cultures need to provide funding from the Nordic countries, EU, UEFA and/ or others.
Awards received by Danish NGO Cross Cultures
2010: UEFA Grassroots Awards awarded a gold medal to the Open Fun Football School program in Moldova for the Best Grassroots Project; a bronze medal to the Open Fun Football Schools program in Armenia; and a gold medal to Oleksandr Kadenko from the Open Fun Football School program in Ukraine as the Best Grassroots Leader.
2009: Best Sport For Peace project awarded by Beyond Sport, UK
2005-2009: On several occasions the national Open Fun Football School teams have received the UEFA Most Valuable Grassroots Football Event of the Year Award.
2004: Honoured Sports Leader of the year, Bosnia Herzegovina
2003: The Danish National Football Team's Charity Cheque
2002: Gerlev Sports Prize, Denmark
2002: UEFA Charity Cheque
2001: UEFA Special Contribution Award - Gold Medal
2000: The Pioneering Prize, Denmark
1999: The Danish Peace Prize
1998: The Michael Laudrup Award, Denmark
Bosnia (1998 - ), Macedonia (2000 - ), Serbia (2001 - ), Montenegro (2001 - 09, 2015 - ) Croatia (2003 - 16), Kosovo (2006 - )
Georgia (2003 - ), Armenia (2004 - ), Azerbaijan (2004 - )
Central and Eastern Europe
Moldova (2006 - ), Ukraine incl. Crimea (2010 - )
Jordan (2005 - ), Syria (2005 - 09), Lebanon (2005 - ), Iraq (2005 - ), Oman (2014 - ), Qatar (2014), Tunisia (2014 - )
Afghanistan (2012 – 15), India (2015), Tajikistan (2012), Bhutan (2013-14)