Youth Exchange – Breaking Barriers through Football


In Multicultural cities and communities in Europe and neighbouring, people with different social, religious and cultural backgrounds live together or next to one another.

Youth Workers (YW) and Youth Leaders (YL) often work with young people within culturally diverse communities, which can provoke issues of intercultural misunderstanding and exclusion. Therefore, the challenges for YW and YL are to: promote positive intercultural encounters encouraging diversity, intercultural & inter-religious dialogue (discover cultures, habits &lifestyles); empower youth to engage in society; strengthen values of solidarity, democracy and friendship as well as foster citizenship.

Each BBTF Youth Exchange programme welcomed between 24 and 30 participants, from a culturally diverse and/or socially disadvantaged background, which means participants (excl. staff members) with fewer opportunities, who experience social, educational, and/or economical obstacles. All groups were equally divided between boys and girls, to ensure the inclusion of an equal number of people from differing cultural and religious backgrounds. Furthermore, it is important that it is a heterogeneous group of participants who can learn from each other.

The participants were selected by each club according to the economic status of their household. This approach was individualised because each club recognised that every participant had their own problems to deal with.

All the participants had previously taking part in their local Sports-based community programmes, delivered by the cooperating organisations. They were selected for the BBTF Exchange by their local coaching staff, who selected participants who could benefit from the exchange. Coaches also selected participants who could be a role model in their communities and/or youth group.

Implementation of the Practice

During BBTF, youngsters from various backgrounds came together to experience a sports-based youth exchange in the hosting cities and the facilities of the participating football club. With the support of community coaches, they explored and analysed the barriers that exist for themselves and between people from other cultures. They were able to reflect on possible resolving strategies to reduce these barriers.

Through adapted football games, group discussions, sport activities, cultural evenings and reflective sessions (delivered by professional staff and the youth leader community coaches) they learned how to break through the invisible barriers that exist in society and work collaboratively with youth from different backgrounds.

Activities are basically derived from the participants itself. They play an essential role in the preparation and execution plan of the Exchange. They prepare the planning and timetable with the staff members of each club together. This allows them to gain valuable competencies and skills, as project, financial and logistics management which helps them as well with their personal development.

Regarding the activities itself, it always varies, depending on the location, facilities, equipment and the participants’ values, needs and interests itself. The 5 days Youth Exchange consists of the following activities, Teambuilding activities, workshops and group discussion (varies topics depending on the actual trends, news, situations technologies, which helps the participants in their personal development) , games and sports activities. Each evening all participants join the cultural exchange activities (cooking, games, quizzes from their home country, etc…).

Each Youth Exchange is unique and can never be compared with previous Youth Exchanges, that makes this programme so valuable and special.

The BBFT Exchanges took place at different times in the year and in different cities and clubs and such as Rotterdam, Tel-Aviv, Breda, Lisbon (depending on the accessibility and availability of the hosting club and their stadium)

In cooperation with EFDN and the participating clubs, participants were in groups during the setup, implementation, delivery, and dissemination of the exchange.

Throughout the preparation and planning stages, each partner via its participants was the creator of the initial project conception and was expected to commit to the evaluation procedures, as agreed. Including, transnational discussions conducted on the agreement of the goals, objectives and outcomes. The exchange plan included key milestones, definition of roles, the distribution of responsibilities among partners and the development of BBTF evaluation procedures. Moreover, each partner had the responsibility of data gathering.

The pioneer’s collection (personal data, signed forms, etc.) was conducted by staff via mail communications with the PMT. Besides, partners were also asked to profile socio-cultural education activities, present evidence of impact/outcomes of the selected activities and define critical success factors to prove their impact on individuals.


The main outcomes were to:

  • Train young people involved in the community to become community leaders and provide them with practical tools.

Increase the interest of more European youth exchanges (in terms of more clubs hosting or participating in future), as well as within the network or wider professionalisation (e.g., the creation of a European Youth Exchange Network).

  • Increase the knowledge acquisition, capacity building and skills development for young people and youth workers and youth workers) within and outside the project partners (inspiring organisation to follow the example and enrich its portfolio of activities).
  • Promote multicultural competencies between project partners and the wider network of partners.
  • Stimulate engagement and consultation of international social inclusion projects and practitioners.
  • Build sustainable partnerships with these actors.
  • Ensure a broad dissemination of activities and their benefits for each actor involved at local, regional, national and European levels.

During the entire project life cycle, different monitoring and evaluation activities were carried out: one-to-one talk, reflection sessions, workshops and between the activities a few walks, talks and observations and the Rosenberg self-esteem questionnaire (pre & post).

On the last day of the Youth Exchange, the participants were given a questionnaire asking about their satisfaction and experience and several skills they acquired, during the Youth Exchange.

Staff members also received an invitation to participate in a survey to evaluate their experience of the Youth Exchange. Their insights into the exchanges was relevant to help improve future Youth Exchanges.

Each year more and more organisations are showing their interest in joining the Breaking Barriers through Football Exchange. Erasmus + has a budget for the delivery of KA105 projects, which emphases the projects sustainability. During a calendar year there are three the opportunity to apply for these kinds of projects.

The long-term impact of this project is that youngsters who participate within the Exchange, grow as a role model in their communities and are considered as a leading example for future participants.

Lessons learnt

It was important to have a heterogeneous group during the Youth Exchange, as one of the aims of the exchange was to develop a greater sense of cohesion more between young people from different cultures and countries. This was achieved through mutual activities, helping each other to break language barriers, getting a better understanding of their own personal perception, needs, values and greater tolerance for other peoples and cultures.

With a homogeneous group the main objectives can’t be achieved, furthermore to create a bond among all the participants it is not advisable to accommodate participants in different facilities but have them all on one place, for example a hostel.


The BBTF Exchange has benefited the target group in several ways. For example, participants have continued to work in the foundation/organisation as a staff member and joined later Exchanges, as a member of staff. Other participants have grown as a role model in their community, while other participants have raised their self-confidence and self-esteem.

The BBTF can be considered a ‘best practice’ as it covers several objectives, that benefit the participants in their future life and career. Besides their development on personal level.

Every BBTF was created by the participants themselves. Therefore, each Exchange was unique and differed from other BBTF Exchanges.

For those organisations looking to get involved with or start a BBTF Exchange, it is recommended to get participants involved from a very early stage and assist them with the project management, financial management, time management phases.


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