Overthelast20yearsanAarhus-based footballclubhasbeenusingthegametoaddressexclusionandpromotesportingopportunitiesforyouthmigrantsandethnicminoritiesinthe Danishcity.
The project’s successes were last week recognised by the Danish FA (DBU), who is now hoping the initiative will inspire organisations across the country.
‘Football & Integration’
Ahead of the Denmark v United States friendly on 25 March, in front of 10,000 spectators, the grassroot club ACFC received a DBU donation to build a new pitch and further their work in bringing children and young people of different backgrounds together, teach them life skills and tackle exclusion through the practice of sporting activities.
The ‘Football & Integration’ networking event was held after a DBU statutory change, which stressed the FA’s commitment to contribute towards a more inclusive society by supporting anti-discrimination projects. The event brought together representatives of several Jutland municipalities, clubs, anti-discrimination associations and delegates of the US embassy in Denmark.
DBU vice president Bent Clausen said: “It is our responsibility to strengthen and provide support to associations less privileged areas, where the citizens are more exposed to or are living in vulnerable situations. Football has the power to create a positive change in disadvantaged areas.”
In total, 14 grassroots clubs will receive funding to further develop their football activities around inclusion and anti-discrimination.
“This initiative is part of our GET 2 Sport campaign, which is helping levelling the playing field.
“We hope it inspires other clubs and organisations interested in encouraging inclusion through football.” added Clausen.
In 1994, ACFC started using the sporting facilities of the Gellerup park, in the Brabrand suburb of Aarhus, largely inhabited by migrant communities, to provide new opportunities for youngsters and through sport help strengthen their confidence and self-esteem. The training sessions and leisure activities in Gellerup quickly became one of the city’s most successful inclusion initiatives.
ACFC chairman and coach Afif Abdallah said: “I’m so happy and grateful. It is a great recognition of the work we do and it means a lot to Gellerup’s community.”
“ACFC have done a great job and brought many of opportunities for a lot of kids over the years. Football is for many the way to take an active part in society. Through these associations they learn life skills and are able to benefit from a network which can later help them get a job placement or an internship.” explained Aarhus mayor Jacob Bundsgaard.