Football Beyond Borders was established in 2009, following a conversation on a train home from a university football match in which team captain Jasper Kain challenged the players to travel together to the Middle East in the coming summer.
However, in the wake of the disputed Iranian elections that year, the team’s visa applications were rejected and a decision was made that the same goals could be served by a tour of Turkey, Syria and Lebanon.
The month-long tour that followed had a profound impact on many of the players. The potential of football to act as a tool to engage with a diverse range of issues and communities, from Iraqi refugees in Syria and the Kurds in Turkey, had been proven and had exceeded even the player’s expectations. As a result of this initial success, annual international projects tackling specific issues pertinent to each region have taken place in Ghana (2010), Egypt, Palestine and Jordan (2011), Brazil (2012), and Bosnia and Serbia (2013). The issues addressed have been wide ranging, from human-rights abuses to a lack of educational opportunities.
In 2013 we switched our focus to issues of disadvantaged and inequality in the UK and began to deliver a football and mentoring project in Camberwell, south London and a football and tutoring programme at Archbishop LanFranc School in Croydon.
We became a registered charity in July 2014 and run our first FBB Schools session at Archbishop Lanfranc Academy. Since then our bespoke programme has grown and in September 2016 we started to deliver to 320 students in 10 schools across London and in Wales.