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Thriving Creative Partnerships: How Football Beyond Borders and Dark Horses turned to virtual worlds to build connections

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Football Beyond Borders is an educational charity that uses young people's passion for the game to engage them in their learning. Through trained psychodynamic counsellors, FBB helps young people understand and develop their emotions; it's the Trojan horse by which otherwise resistant conversations are held. 

But when lockdown hit, FBB could no longer rely on the fields and playgrounds (or even schools) as hubs where children could meet and engage with their program. They had to think of a way in which their work could continue in the digital space, which is where Dark Horses came in. Through playing video game sensation FIFA, the pair pivoted their work to go online and through the domain of e-sports, ensured young people - whilst going through a particularly testing and isolated time - were still given a sense of belonging and companionship. 

A video will be available to watch below from 2pm on Thursday 23rd July.

Receive updates about this interview and the ongoing series here



Speakers

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Jasper Kain

Football Beyond Borders
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Adam Burns

Dark Horses

Co-Founder of Football Beyond Borders Jasper Kain received a first class honours from SOAS University. Upon graduation he co-founded a documentary film company alongside working as a community organiser in London. he founded FBB as a charity, off the back of running a series of youth football programmes in South London in his spare time. He was awarded the Ernie Shackleton prize for his services to youth work and was nominated for the Pride of Britain award.

Adam Burns is a Creative Director at Dark Horses and has created work for the likes of Nissan, the FA, Peloton and the LTA. Previously he worked as a creative for Anomaly London on Beats and precarious to that he spent four years at DDB Sydney. In 2014 he walked 1966km to the Brazil World Cup to raise money for the drought relief effort in the North of Brazil. 

4 takeaways from the interview:

1. The virtual world offers an opportunity to bridge disparities 
Whilst there are many restraints due to lockdown and we can’t be physically in the same room, the virtual world is also an equaliser and can bridge the gap between different worlds. It removes barriers to entry around geography, budget and other physical constraints, and through creativity, can offer moments to connect and meaningful experiences. 

2. Tap into people’s passions to meet them where they are at
To engage with people, particularly young people, in a positive way, we need to tap into their passions and meet them in a way they are open to. Football Beyond Borders and Dark Horses decided to use young people’s passion for gaming to connect with them, “We could either tell them this is wrong, or meet a young person where they’re at.” says Jasper Kain. Using gaming as a form of distraction therapy, Football Beyond Borders opened up the conversation and helped young people process their emotions and feelings, to offer a moment of connection during a time of isolation. 

3. Gaming as a force for good  
There is a lot of judgement around gaming, however instead of condemning it, it can be used as a tool to connect with young people and offer teaching moments, with lessons that can be applied in the classroom and in life.  Jasper Kain states “My approach to gaming was always how can we limit the time a young person spend gaming, but if you flip it and ask how can we use it to engage young people and support their development.” 

4. Turning the crisis into an opportunity
Jasper Kain says “If we spin this crisis into an opportunity, there’s some amazing things we can do.” Using creativity to pivot their campaign, Football Beyond Borders and Dark Horses were able to connect Chris Smalling from Roma with a student in Blackpool, which just wouldnt have been possible. Kain goes on to say “This time has taught us all to stop and consider our place in the world and potentially our privilege as well.” 
 


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