Cross Cultures is an international `plus sports` Alliance (i.e. the result is a social improvement, and grassroots sports is the primary tool) with headquarters in Denmark.
Our mission is to use fun sports to bring people together to play and cooperate across ethnic, social and religious divides and contribute to peaceful co-existence, social cohesion and resilience.
With this intention, Cross Cultures introduced the Open Fun Football Schools programme in war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1998. The initiative has proven to be so effective in bringing people together that it has been implemented in 23 countries (of which 17 are active today) and reached more than 1.8 million direct beneficiaries, here among 104.000 volunteers.
The programme is based on the basic assumption that you can win a war but cannot win peace. Peace must be built in the self, between people, institutions, and societal structures and systems. Furthermore, our experience tells us that violent conflict evokes the most destructive emotions in all of us – negative emotions that fuel the escalation of conflict to even more violence and destruction and which often play a far more significant role than any of the ethnic, historical, political or religious reasons which are often assumed to be the root causes of the conflict.
Peacebuilding efforts must therefore be organised to foster communication and cooperation between adversarial groups so that they experience having something in common. This, in turn, increases trust and understanding of the “other” and helps people find a way to live together in peace. Our programmes always take point of departure in building peace by using the qualities of sport.
Specifically, Cross Cultures uses our community-based Fun Sports activities to bring children, youth and adults living in conflict-sensitive areas together to communicate, interact, play, and collaborate across ethnic, social and religious divides. Cross Cultures’ Fun Sports approach creates a “safe space” within the conflict that breaks down barriers between people by allowing them to form new perspectives and develop positive relationships that can grow outside the football field. Cross Cultures’ programmes include our Youth Leadership Education, which trains young volunteers to become Community Organisers and involves localised add-ons that match the specific context.
Springboard story illustration
Springboard story created by Bosnia at our International Youth Council 2022 in Tunisia
1) War and violent conflict tears people apart and prevents communication
2) Open Fun Football Schools bring people together to interact in a safe environment
3) when people communicate, peace and positive relationships can blossom