History and background

Since 1998, our activities have reached out to more than 950,000 children, 52,000 parents, and 79,000 local volunteers across boundaries in 21 post conflict situations across the world. We have educated over 36,000 local coaches in our specific community based and child centered approach.  

On this page you can read about the history and background of Cross Cultures, and how we have developed our strategy and approaches since 1998.

1998 - The core idea  

Open Fun Football Schools was introduced for the first time in war-torn Bosnia Herzegovina in 1998. It was built 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, major tasks to stabilize the post-conflict communities still remain. 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 core idea of Cross Cultures 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. 

2000 - The regional approach

In 2000 Cross Cultures was encouraged by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to build a regional component into the programme in accordance with the EU Peace and Stability Pact Strategy. The Strategy was to promote Peace and Stability in the Western-Balkans through Cross Boundary collaboration and through civil society organizations. 

Correspondingly, Cross Cultures developed a plan on how to develop and expand our operation to one new country each 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 was a basic principle to Cross Cultures that all the seminars for instructors, leaders, and coaches include participants from all countries involved in the regions. Furthermore, all Open Fun Football Schools were organized in accordance with the so-called “twin-city approach” where football clubs, leaders, and coaches from minimum two municipalities and three football clubs representing hostile population groups – cross entity – organize an Open Fun Football Schools jointly. 

2002 - Strategic intentions version 1

On a regional seminar in Banja Vrujci, Serbia the instructors and local staff of Open Fun Football Schools formulated the strategic intentions version 1 for the programme and organization: 

Mission statement: 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. 

Vision: 1) To start a children’s grassroots football movement in the region based on the values and principles of Open Fun Football Schools, and 2) To start a children’s grassroots football movement in the world based on the values and principles of Open Fun Football Schools. 

Operational goals: 

  • 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.) 


2003 - Nordic donor platform 

Along with the regional approach Cross Cultures succeeded to form a joined Nordic donor-platform comprising Denmark (1999), Norway (2003), Sweden (2004), Finland (2005) and UEFA (2001). 

2004 - The Children's Grassroots Football Universe

In Cross Cultures 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 center it is our wish to bring all stakeholders into play. 

This concept was illustrated at a seminar in Banja Vrujci by instructors and staff, and was called ‘The Children´s Grassroots Football Universe’. Find the model under our theoretical approaches.

2005 - Sustainability approach 

On a regional seminar for staff and instructors in Ohrid, FYR Macedonia Cross Cultures 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 Organizational 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.

2006-2007 - Senior Leaders Academy 

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 three key persons from each programme country (two persons representing CCPA and one person representing the National Football Association). 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 which are 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’, and Montenegro 'Development of football clubs for pre-school children'. 

2007 - A new funding strategy 

On a regional seminar in Denmark followed by a leaders meeting in Trsteno, Croatia Cross Cultures developed our Fundraising Manual and ‘Sponsor strategy’: 


  • Cross Cultures 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, Football Associations, 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.