Eastern Europe

Ukraine flag

Cross Cultures has been active in Ukraine since 2010, when the Open Fun Football Schools initiative was first introduced in Crimea. Between 2017-2021, Cross Cultures implemented the EU-financed project Civil Society- and Public Sector cooperation for Reconciliation, Social Integration and Child Protection in Ukraine.

The project involved two interlinked activity streams: Firstly, the Open Fun Football Schools concept was used to engage more than 200.000 children, including internally displaced children, and over 3000 voluntary football coaches in fun sports activities that all build transversal skills such as team building, tolerance, non-discrimination, anger management, etc. Secondly, the project included a School+Sport+Police (SSP) component, which sought to promote the rights of children and youth and prevent juvenile crime and risk behaviour through cross sector collaboration. The project successfully established 167 local SSP teams across 9 eastern conflict-affected regions in Ukraine involving key stakeholders such as local sports clubs, police, social services and school psychologists. The SSP networks have been firmly anchored in Ukraine as a result of strong support from- and collaboration with the Ukrainian Association of Football along with local and national government. In 2021, it was deemed among the EU’s most successful social programs in Ukraine in an external evaluation.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Cross Cultures has provided humanitarian assistance in the war-torn eastern regions of the country and organised psychosocial support activities, including Open Fun Football Schools, for displaced children in western Ukraine. The above-mentioned SSP networks have been instrumental in implementing all activities and have proven to be highly efficient humanitarian actors.

436 Open Fun Football Schools (+2005 one-day festivals

72.538 children at Open Fun Football Schools (+254.625 at one-day festivals)

Cross Cultures’ Open Fun Football Schools (OFFS) initiative was introduced in Moldova in 2006, with the objective of promoting peaceful coexistence and strengthening social cohesion in the aftermath of the 1992 military conflict in Transnistria.

The initiative has been succesful in using the social qualities of grassroots football to unite people from all regions of the country irrespective of religious, political, racial, sexual and national background. Another key focus in Moldova is to increase girls’ inclusion in football and promote gender equality and female empowerment. We do this by providing women and girls with access to an otherwise male-dominated domain and presenting them with alternative opportunities and role models. In this way, girls and women’s participation in football becomes a valuable tool in combating gender stereotypes while at the same time promoting physical and mental wellbeing as well as active civic participation.

In 2021 Cross Culture had a 51% female participation rate across all activities. In 2017, Cross Cultures introduced the School + Sport + Police (SSP) initiative as a complementary component to the existing Open Fun Football Schools programme. The SSP initiative focuses on preventing children and youth from becoming victims or offenders of crime and is built on the notion that crime prevention is not a matter for the police alone, but should involve all key stakeholders involved in children’s daily lives. The programme has been successful in establishing an effective SSP cross-sector network and educating volunteer coaches in child protection and facilitation of juvenile crime prevention activities.

Since the onset of the war in Ukraine in February 2022, the Moldovan SSP network has furthermore organised sports- and other social activities dedicated to integrating Ukrainian refugee children into their host communities.

191 Open Fun Football Schools (+818 one-day festivals

36.296 children at Open Fun Football Schools (+66.524 at one-day festivals)