History and background

Cross Cultures is a `plus sports` organization (i.e. the result is social improvement and grassroots sports is the main tool) with headquarters in Denmark. Our mission is to use sports – and in particular the Open Fun Football Schools programme – as a tool to bringing people to play and cooperate together across ethnic, social and religious divides and in this way 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 results of this initiative proved to be so successful and effective that today the programme is active in 17 countries across the world and it has reached over 1.4 million direct beneficiaries. Among these, Cross Cultures has mobilized 83.905 volunteers and educated 43.838 leaders and coaches on seminars of 60-80 hours duration – all being responsible for organizing Open Fun Football Schools and other social and inclusive activities in their local communities.

The basic idea

The idea behind the program is based on the experience of how wars and ethnic conflicts affect people and tear land and people apart as well as the experience that relief and refugee-related efforts are not just about providing protection to the victims of war, organizing shelter and distributing food, clothing, medicine and other emergency aid. If you want to use your relief proactively to reduce and prevent conflicts, reconcile people and promote stability, human rights and resilience, you need to organize your relief in a way that fosters communication and cooperation between the combatants population groups, so that the participants feel that they have something in common with the people they would otherwise see as ‘others’ – that they find new ways to live peacefully with each other.

It is in this context that Cross Cultures uses the Open Fun Football Schools programme as a catalyst to bring children, youth and adults to play and cooperate together across ethnic, social and religious divides in order to create new stories, new ideas and common actions. By promoting local participation, volunteering and cross-cutting social communities, and by showing and putting people’s experiences into words as well as putting their resources at stake in a new way, the programme contributes as an inspiration to those seeking to find a new, peaceful and sustainable way of solving common problems.