In October 2022, Football Supporters Europe (FSE) and Supporters Direct Europe (SD Europe) merged retaining the FSE name. As a part of the merger commitments, the Kick-Off! Project began by SD Europe, will be completed.
The Erasmus+ funded Kick-Off! project headed to Zeist, Netherlands earlier this month as project partners gathered to provide updates on their progress ahead of the final project meeting in June 2023.
The meeting was hosted by the Dutch national association, the KNVB, at their headquarters on the 14th and 15th April.
Along with the KNVB, the German national association (the DFB), and national supporters’ organisations from the Netherlands (Supporterscollectief Nederland), Spain (FASFE), and Germnay (Unsere Kurve), were in attendance. The African supporters organisation, Sandlanders, also sent representatives to Zieist. Finally, representatives attended on behalf of lead partner SD Europe.
To provide insight into a best practice scenario, Mats Enquist, the former General Secretary of the Swedish Football League, was also invited to talk to partners about the work that has been carried out in Sweden where the supporters and the league are working close together.
During the meeting, partners discussed their progress in working towards the overall aim of Kick-Off!, which is to achieve a commitment towards formal cooperation between supporters and national associations tailored to their specific circumstances. The partners are making good progress towards the end of the project, affirming the effectiveness of the project’s design.
Over the two days, partners provided updates on their respective progress and had the opportunity to exchange their learnings and experiences from the project work to date.
After the meeting, Paul Jones, Board member of Sandlanders, said: “The meetings in Zeist were really valuable and allowed us to connect with the other project partners. We will take the lessons learned from the other projects and apply to the closing stages of our own project in the coming months.”
“We have so far engaged with over 20 federations across Africa as part of the project. We are particularly pleased with the level of engagement and progress made with the Namibian FA. We aim to conclude an memorandum of understanding (MoU), with them soon to implement a framework to develop relationships between football clubs, supporters and the FA in Namibia.”
Tony Ernst, Kick-Off! Advisory Board member and FSE SLO Development Officer, added: “As this project nears its completion, it is incredibly encouraging to see the progress being made in each partner country. Thanks to the partners’ commitment, it’s clear to see that the foundations are forming for genuine, structured relationships between supporters and the game’s national associations, and this can act as an inspiration for similar activity in other countries beyond the project’s end date in June.”
“At the beginning of the work, there may have been one or two partners who were unsure whether or not formal cooperation could be realised, but Kick-Off! has demonstrated what can be achieved through mutual respect and dialogue.”
FSE would like to express their thanks to the KNVB for its hospitality and assistance in arranging the meeting.