Representatives from Football Supporters Europe (FSE), supporters organisations, a leading Dutch sports research institutions, experts in youth participation, and several younger fans gathered in Brussels, on 15-16 December 2023 for the first partner meeting and workshop of the Future of Football Erasmus+ project.
Led by FSE, the project aims to empower more young people to participate in the democratic structures within supporters organisations & football clubs.
Future of Football brings together supporter organisations and partners from five EU countries, England & Wales, and Africa, through the continental fans organisation Sandlanders.
The purpose of the two-day meeting was to gather the supporters organisations, younger fans, and the project’s expert group to discuss and plan one of the key outputs of Future of Football: the creation of a series of toolkits and training materials that will then be delivered within each country and disseminated to interested stakeholders once finalised.
The Mulier Institute presented its plans to continue delivering the research strand of the project, including tailored analysis of each partner country on the successes and challenges they experience at the national and local level in engaging young people in democratic structures and processes.
The meeting also offered the opportunity for the partners to discuss the fundamental components of the project, such as what does the concept of ‘youth participation’ mean to them. Project partners also heard best practice examples from Swedish football clubs AIK Fotboll and Djurgårdens IF where supporters groups for young fans have grown within the stands.
After the meeting, FSE spoke to Lois Page and Amelia Armstrong, two members of the Football Supporters’ Association’s National Working Group for the project, and Mathias Johansson, the SLO at AIK Fotboll and Expert Group Member for the project.
Following December’s meeting, the research stage continues, led by the Mulier Institute, with the focus on the analysis of each country’s current situation. This will involve examining the successful and unsuccessful practices of engaging young people in democracy in football, and in other avenues of society. Additionally, a series of online workshops will commence in Spring to progress the development of the project’s toolkits and training materials.
FSE would like to sincerely thank the project partners and expert group members for their time and invaluable contributions over the couple of days in Brussels. It was a vibrant and energising exchange, with exciting next steps ahead.