As all eyes turn to the 24 nations taking part in EURO2020, adidas is going beyond the elite men’s game to football-loving communities across the continent to help them get the most out of the beautiful game.
Why? Because adidas wants to use the power of playing football as the driving force for change in local communities.
Football is not immune to injustice, prejudice or discrimination. It is a mirror of the problems faced by society. But, playing football can also provide the antidote. In a recent survey 99% of participants said they believe football can be a force for good in society. Football is community, and we need a strong sense of community now more than ever. Losing football during the pandemic has only amplified its power to unite us and bring joy.
Supporting inclusivity in football starts with grassroots organizations. Here are three of the activist communities, changemakers and organizations that adidas has partnered with to create change through football.
London, UK: Playing football to tackle racism and homophobia
In London adidas is providing access to football and removing discrimination by fighting racism and homophobia.
One successful partnership has been with Stonewall FC who are committed to creating a footballing environment where people can be comfortable in their own skin and facilitate their best sporting self. adidas provides their kit and has recently helped them establish a new home ground, offering a discrimination-free safe space to play football.
Berlin, Germany : Playing football to boost girls’ confidence
In Berlin adidas wants to remove stereotypes and shape a more inclusive football world. One charity they are supporting is SCORING GIRLS, founded by Tugba Tekkal a former pro-football player in Germany.
Tugba is someone who has experienced the transformative power of football. Born in Germany as the daughter of Kurdish Yazidi refugees, she faced discrimination growing up. As a result she was not confident at school and became very introverted.
“Before I started playing football, I used to be very shy and cautious,” she remembers. Then football came into her life, and things changed. “My success in sports made me believe in myself and my talents, and that affected all other areas of my life in a positive way. I became a lot more open, made more friends, and got better at school. As an adult, I had the opportunity to turn my passion into a job and made it into the Bundesliga. I am still very grateful for that.”
The SCORING GIRLS project offers girls and young women – regardless of their background, socio-economic status or faith – the chance to work together to identify their strengths and passions. Tugba says that this is especially important for girls from cultural backgrounds like hers who are not normally encouraged to do sports.
“I have often accompanied families who did not want their daughters playing football. In these cases, it is often about taking the parents’ concerns seriously, addressing them and making it clear to them why they have to give their daughters the same opportunities as their sons. It is always nice to see when we are successful with our work. I’ve seen many girls with a refugee background who have developed to strong independent young women.”
Going forward, the adidas Sports Base in Berlin will be the hub for SCORING GIRLS, offering training, workshops, and events. adidas also supports with training equipment and football kit for all members, coaches and staff, things Tugba says are crucial for their success.
“The adidas support means that we can offer sport for the girls once a week that is free for the players. Sport is incredibly important for health, integration and personal development, but many of the girls cannot afford a membership to a sports club and would not be able to participate otherwise.”
Paris, France: The Pogba Playground of Possibilities
In Paris, adidas is providing access to football and creating opportunities for people from marginalized backgrounds.
The adidas Football Collective has teamed up with French footballing legend Paul Pogba to build a new five-aside football pitch in Roissy-en-Brie. The pitch has been created in Pogba’s unique style – a real symbol of the his legacy in the Paris neighbourhood where he grew up.
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“I can see myself 20 years ago, here, playing football with my friends. I would have loved to have had access to this playing field, and I am genuinely convinced that it will inspire new generations,” says Paul Pogba.
Using 1.5 tonnes of recycled rubber from adidas shoes, the Pogba Playground of Possibilities has been built local communities and associations. It is hoped the pitch will help pass on Pogba’s passion for football to a new generation, as well as encouraging social cohesion, and a more inclusive and fair game.