Adapting to a new playing field
The changing demographics in the Republic of Ireland have given the Football Association of Ireland a unique opportunity to support inclusion and reach out to new members of its community through the medium of football.
The FAI took the initial step to appoint someone with a specific responsibility for Interculturalism, and soon after launched the ‘Intercultural Football Plan & Programme’, together with renowned ex-professional footballer and ambassador for the programme, Paul McGrath.
The plan seeks to examine how best, in the context of a more diverse Irish society, to encourage increased participation in football among people from minority ethnic and cultural backgrounds, whilst also challenging and preventing the spread of racism within the game — thereby contributing towards a more intercultural and integrated society.
In 2009, the FAI’s Intercultural Football Programme piloted a Grassroots Good Practice Scheme called ‘Grassroots Intercultural Football Standards’ (GIFS), designed to encourage and support greater connections between local clubs and new communities, providing a two-way pathway to engage both children and adults who might not currently be aware of the football opportunities on offer.
This year, the FAI is looking to build on the success of the pilot and develop the scheme further, with a special focus on promoting greater participation in football among children and adult volunteers with diverse ethnic, cultural or national minority backgrounds.
Under the GIFS scheme, support has been made available to clubs and organisations who deliver programmes that assist individuals and groups to engage in mainstream football activities, such as playing and volunteering. It’s main requirement is that all initiatives must lead to sustainable participation and enhance connections that last long after the GIFS scheme ceases.
Clubs and groups are encouraged to get in touch with the FAI’s Intercultural Football Programme if they are interested in taking part in this scheme.
For further information, visit the FAI’s Intercultural Football Programme or get in touch with Des Tomlinson, Intercultural Football Programme Coordinator, on +353 1 899 9571.