Football Beyond Borders initiative pairs footballers with young people for game of FIFA

07 May 2020

By: Sport Industry Group

Football Beyond Borders (FBB) has launched Football Beyond Walls, an initiative that pairs young people and professional footballers for a game of FIFA 20 and a meaningful conversation about their lives in lockdown. 

This initiative, which sees the charity work with sport creative agency Dark Horses, publisher JOE and production company Outsider, will use games of FIFA between at-risk young people and professional footballers to highlight the fact that meaningful conversations can have a positive effect on a young person’s sense of wellbeing.  The charity aims to show that this can also happen within the confines of their home, while playing FIFA. 

“When it comes to the lockdown, there has been a clear trend that teenagers feel isolated and do not feel as though they have a voice,” said Jasper Kain, Co-Founder, Football Beyond Borders. 

“We have also seen during this period that gaming is hugely popular and the main avenue in which teenage boys connect with the outside world. We want to harness this popularity as a force for good. When used in the correct way, games such as FIFA can be beneficial. It provides an opportunity to connect with others in a safe space and give young people a place to talk in a way that is very difficult to achieve in everyday life - especially when that life is spent indoors.”

The initiative was launched with a film starring Fulham and Republic of Ireland defender Ireland Cyrus Christie playing against two young people, Freddie and Bland, at FIFA. 

While playing, the teenagers have honest conversations about football, mental health, and lockdown with Christie, who has himself been open about his own issues with mental health in the past. 

Adam Burns, Senior Creative at Dark Horses, said: “To anyone who's grown up playing FIFA, this isn't news. Some of the most meaningful conversations I've had with my mates, have taken place whilst playing FIFA. 

“The shared focus on the game allows you to almost detach emotionally, you lose yourself on the pitch, giving you the freedom to talk about whatever is on your mind. And this is what we wanted to capture with the film.” 

The piece was filmed in their own homes with remote direction from Outsider’s Tom Day. The charity, meanwhile, says that the questions and conversation starters were provided and guided throughout by its professional practitioners, while the parents of the young people involved had also given written permission for their children to appear in the film. 

Tom Day, Director at Outsider, said: “Like any Director, I thrive on set with cast and crew around me, but lockdown has forced us all to quickly adapt to new ways of working. I’m so proud of how the film looks despite not being in the room with Cyrus, Bland and Freddie. Although I’ve never met them in person we’ve bonded remotely and through necessity, which only strengthens the message of this project. We all made this film together.”

The film is scored by London grime artist, Yizzy, and his track Hustle Hard, which also appears on FIFA 20.