Sport can be a reflection of what is occurring in society, whilst football is a worldwide pastime that impacts upon millions. Professional footballers can become role models to young people and for fanatical supporters the rise and fall of their football team becomes a central part of their lives and their families’ lives. Unfortunately, it is also used as an arena to display racism. For this very reason it is important to educate people both on and off the pitch.
The Football Unites, Racism Divides education worker operates alongside schools, youth centres, hostels, prisons and any organisations or agencies that work with young people to raise awareness about the effects of racism and the importance to combat this learnt behaviour.
Our educational work uses young people’s interest in football as a gateway to tackling ignorance and has proved to be extremely successful.
We had over 1000 young people aged 16-24 involved in the Sheffield Futures Millennium Volunteers programme between 1999 and 2008, working up to 200 hours each in the local community. This was replaced by the v initiative which ran from 2009 to 2011 offering volunteer opportunities to 16-25 year olds. In 2011 this funding finished. However, in 2011, FURD became one of the organisations offering v's new programme, v24/24. This offers work placements of 24 hours a week for 24 weeks to 16-19 year olds not in education, employment or training.
The FURD Positive Futures programme works with young people aged 10–19 years, and aims to ‘move beyond sport’ by creating an environment where young people are able to develop both personally and socially.