Today we want to show all of you a really important initiative for Aberdeen and the North of Scotland, that mixes sport, cultural diversity and integration: the activity of the Aberdeen F.C. Community Trust (AFCCT)!
As you can imagine, AFCCT use football as a tool for integration and inclusion. “Football is a global language that has historically been shown to have the power to bring people of multiple nations, ethnicities and religious together,” says Harley Hamdani, Diversity & Inclusion Officer.
Syrian Dons programme.
Thus, AFCCT are working towards this in the North East of Scotland, by increasing awareness and accessibility to ongoing projects as well as new initiatives specifically developed to engage with more diverse community groups.
One of their most successful projects is the Syrian Dons programme, started as a result of many Syrian refugees re-settling into Aberdeen and the surrounding area, in partnership with schools and the local authority. In this programme, “young Syrian learners attend one session of football per week as part of their school timetable. This allows for language development, and crucial interaction with peers, outside of a classroom environment.
One of the teams of the First Multicultural Football Tournament.
Other very important initiative was the First Multicultural Football Tournament, in partnership with the Aberdeen Multicultural Centre. The event, held at Aberdeen Sports Village, counted with 12 teams in 7 aside matches with more than 130 participants of over 25 nationalities! Some communities taking part included Bangladeshi, Turkish, Middle-Eastern, Polish, Nigerian and Moroccan. The Celebration was very successful and they are “already looking forward to an even bigger and better tournament next year!”
Also, AFCCT are always working to develop young volunteers and coaches. Over the past couple years, the Coach Development project has trained a high number of young people from diverse backgrounds who have joined the Community Trust as a volunteer or coach, with many supported through coach education courses.
Another programme is Free to Play Participation Centres, running in partnership with community groups, local authorities, religious centres, and grassroots clubs. Here, AFCCT hold weekly free to play football centres in a bid to bridge the gap between non-organised football (or no football) and the Scottish FA’s player pathway. These centres are the first step in engaging with ethnic and religious minority groups, the eventual goal being to integrate within local teams and clubs.
Making a difference
The result of all these activities has been tremendously positive for the community, and some of its outcomes include:
- Increased awareness, accessibility, and participation within grassroots football for ethnic and religious minority groups.
- Increased inclusion and integration in society through sport.
- Greater sense of belonging for diverse community groups.
- Higher level of diversity in local teams/clubs.
- Increase in attendance of minority groups to Aberdeen FC matches.
As Harley points out, “Aberdeen is extremely diverse due to the main industries of the city, and this should be celebrated.” “There are many aspects of different cultures that can be taken into our everyday life, but this cannot be achieved without an open mind and understanding of both the real and perceived barriers that may exist to diverse community groups.”
For this reason, organisations such as the AFCCT, Aberdeen Multicultural Centre, or AIYF are essential to ensure that diversity exists in all areas of our community.
We hope this post made you interested and aware of the activities of one of the organisations that is doing more to ensure the diversity in Aberdeen. And, of course, just remind you that you should not miss our Aberdeen Mela – One World Day 2017, on 30th of July in Westburn Park. See you all there!