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Football Makes History

But you forgot one thing, which is that we had the very first meeting as a ‘shadow meeting’ in Belfast! - Jonathan

For the last couple of years, the HTANI and I have been involved in a fabulous project called Football Makes History. The project originated out of a preliminary ‘shadow meeting’ that was held when the HTANI hosted the EUROCLIO Conference in Belfast. First of all, it is important to comment that the longer title says it all, ‘Innovative collaborations of school education and youth through the prism of local football history for social inclusion and diversity.’ In short, the project was all about utilizing and engaging students from all abilities and all backgrounds, in formal and non-formal sectors through using the subject of football. It wasn’t about a bunch of football geeks getting together and sharing all of their favourite football memories, although there was inevitably some of this on the social fringes of the project, but it has been more to do with creating a resource that can be used to unlock the stories that exist in football to increase understanding and appreciation of diversity, challenge the harmful stereotypes that exist, to promote inclusion and to build a deeper understanding of the connection that football has to culture and history through looking topics such as migration, identity, inclusion, gender and nationalism. It was an ambitious project but there was a vast pool of talent and expertise involved in the project and the resources dealt with a vast array of topics that could be used in the classroom in association with normal lessons and in the non-formal sector through establishing how football connects specifically to the bigger stories and themes.

Personally, I feel that I have been very fortunate to have been involved in this programme as from day one it was such a privilege to hear some of the stories and to interact with the enthusiasm, dedication and professionalism of all those involved. I remember a particular moment in what turned out to be the last workshop, where all of the developers worked silently together on their resources in Eindhoven and got technical support from those who had designed the template for the envisaged resources. All you could hear was the tapping away at the keyboards of the vast assembly of laptops, as developers sought every available space and plug to complete the work. I also look back to so many highlights, such as during the programme in Rotterdam, where we heard how Feyenord and the Fancoach Programme at Anne Frank House were combatting Anti-Semitism when it displayed itself in fan behaviour. [i][ii] It was inspiring to find out about how this project worked and to hear the testimony of the Holocaust survivor and Feyenord fan who engaged with the fans to alter behaviour. In association with this, participants got a brief guided tour of Rotterdam that included a church where Jewish families had hidden during the occupation period. As we got deeper into the programme, developers were able to share their passion for football themes, such as Igor Javanovic who was able to enthuse developers with his extensive knowledge and wonderful resource on using football to enable students to understand the link between football and migration, while non-formal developers were given a talk by Ansley Hoffman on tackling discrimination through the medium of football. Of course, as we were in Frankfurt and we were being hosted by Eintracht Frankfurt and their wonderful museum, it was a thrill to witness Eintracht Frankfurt defeat Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. The project moved to Bucharest and then back to Eindhoven, where the inspirational Petra Landers gave a talk on ‘Gender equality in football, where do we stand?’ and there was an extremely informative and useful lecture from the team from the John Blankenstein Foundation on ‘LGPTQI + acceptance in sports.’ In between these sessions, the developer teams worked extremely hard on developing their material. It was an incredible experience to be involved.

I want to spend the last part of this short blog to direct you immediately to the resources. One example tells the story of Árpád Weisz, a brilliant Hungarian football player and coach who won three Italian championships, but then who disappeared from fascist Italy because he was Jewish. [iii] Another resource extensively looks at the attempts to allow students to connect the migrations of football players with general push and pull factors and prove that the migrations of football players have similar causes with other causes of human migrations and push and pull factors. [iv] One lesson looks at two tragic incidents in English football and asks challenging questions of Citizenship students on the Heysel and Hillsborough Disasters. [v] It is also possible to use the Real Madrid – Barcelona rivalry to investigate the role that football plays in nationalist conflicts [vi] or allow students to participate in a multi-layer activity that examines the interrelation between the European Football Championships and the social transformations that took place in post-World War Two Europe.[vii] Closer to home and as I was involved in the identity team, there is a resource on the transformation of Northern Ireland fan behaviour and the attempts to eliminate sectarianism in the stands. What does identity have to do with football?[viii] One of my team colleagues also created an identity themed lesson that allows students to analyze football badges as primary sources and trace their historical origins and meanings.[ix] There are a number of great resources and then can be easily accessed on the Football Makes History website and then you will be directed to Historiana. [x] I think that I am really passionate about this material as it was created and put together by a dedicated and talented team who came together thanks to the partnership of FARE and EUROCLIO, and shared a determination to share football themed resources with teachers throughout Europe. I am extremely proud of the small part I played in the project.

One further note. It doesn’t end there. There is a stories section and an unbelievable team who have been churning out football stories for each calendar day as we approach what we hope will be the Euros in the summer of 2021. This has taken an incredible effort on the part of the main team who have been involved in this. [xi] I also have to add my favourite collection of all, ‘Learning History in 100 live Stories,’ [xii] based on the immense work of Chris Rowe. This is a resource that I will dip in and out of for the rest of my career. It is impressive in every single aspect. Take a look.

I believe that these resources can be of great benefit to History and Citizenship teachers in Northern Ireland and throughout Europe. I am glad that I had a small input into what became a fabulous resource and was part of the enthusiasm that surrounded the venture. Furthermore, I want to remind everyone that the resources are still growing! I hope to encourage as many teachers as possible to explore the resources that I have highlighted and I am absolutely sure that there is something within Football Makes History for everyone.

Resources [i] Football Chanting Project Tours Europe | Anne Frank House [ii] Anne Frank House enters the football field to tackle anti-semitism | Football Makes History [iii] Historiana – Disappearing from football and the world [iv] Historiana – How does migration in football compare with migration in general? [v] Historiana – Could a disaster save English Football? [vi] Historiana -El Clasico and Nationalist Confrontation [vii] Historiana – The History of the European Football Championships and the Transformation of Modern Europe [viii]Historiana – What does identity have to do with football? [ix] Historiana – Identity through a badge [x] Resources | Football Makes History [xi] Stories | Football Makes History [xii] Learning history in 100 football life stories | Football Makes History

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