Football Unites is a British Universities & College Sport (BUCS) project funded by both BUCS and the Football Association, this is otherwise known as a BUCS Football Development Project. The funding was awarded to Hull Sport after a rigorous application process to help them address a participation gap in ethnic communities throughout Hull whilst aiming to connect Higher Education to the football landscape both locally and nationally. Delivery began in July 2021 with funding provided until June 2022.
Football Unites is a football project specifically for ethnic minorities males aged 16 years and above. Since last May 2021, Hull Sport have engaged 271 unique participants from over 49 nations. For the first two weeks of the project, we only engaged one participant however through the word of mouth and developing integral partnerships, we are now engaged 50+ participants weekly and still engaging new participants on a weekly basis. Dan Smith, Sport development officer at Hull Sport has worked with community providers such as Hull College, the job centre, tigers trust plus the University of Hull Sanctuary.
Dan Smith is a University of Hull alumni who previously was a member of the University Men’s Football team. Since Dan has graduated, he was successful in securing an internship with the sport development team and through his dedication and commitment, he has been a full time sports development officer since 2020.
The success in recent months would not have been possible without key support from students in the Football leadership programme. Four students have volunteered in the project since the start and have developed fantastic relationships with our participants. Students from the Football Leadership programme have helped to monitor and deliver football activity weekly since May 2021 as well as lead on the performance analysis and strength and conditioning sessions. Additional support comes from one of the University’s sanctuary scholars Adam- Adam who provides essential help breaking down the language barrier with participants.
The Football Unites project was recently a finalist in the national BUCS awards for ‘Participation Programme of the Year’. Even though the project did not win the award, we were proud that the project had the recognition that it did deserved across the country and in the Higher Education sector.
Hull is a city of Sanctuary alongside the University of Hull. Universities of Sanctuary commit to creating a culture of welcoming people that are seeking sanctuary and I feel that Football Unites helps to achieve this with both the activity level as well as our workforce and staff. One of our sanctuary scholars Adam-Adam is a workforce member in our Football leadership programme and has been an integral part of the project as he volunteers on a weekly basis at Football Unites and helps to spark conversations with those who speak Arabic.
Some of our participants highlighted that Football Unites is the only thing that they look forward to on a weekly basis. Participants have stated that “Football Unites provides a safe, fun environment but most of all, it allows our participants to make connections and friendships through their love and passion of football”.
The majority of our participants are refugees or seeking asylum and through developing relationships with our participants, they shared that they did not know anybody when they arrived in Hull. They did not understand the language and the transition of moving to the UK has been a scary time of their lives. However, with the community support network that is currently in the place in the city, they were able to access English lessons through Hull College and were invited to Football Unites to meet new people in the city.
Please contact 01482 466234 for more information on how you can get involved.