Football Beyond Borders: Re-engaging vulnerable children with school through football

Image courtesy of Football Beyond Borders
Image courtesy of Football Beyond Borders /

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Football Beyond Borders believe that football is the most powerful tool in the world for building strong relationships, and that in turn, FBB uses these relationships to help drive incredible results at school for vulnerable young people.

The charity works with young people from areas of socio-economic disadvantage who are passionate about football, but disengaged at school, helping them finish school with the skills and grades to make a successful transition into adulthood.

They do this by providing long-term, intensive support, built around relationships and young people’s passions, in the classroom and beyond.

FBB’s team of youth workers develop consistent and long-term relationships with young people and focus on developing their strengths. Their practitioners provide role models the young people can relate to and are embedded across young people’s lives at school and through close contact with parent/carer(s) at home.

FBB’s journey began in a common room at a University in London.

The University football captain Jasper Kain asked his teammates to embark on a summer football tour to the Middle East and use football as a tool to create positive social change. Jack Reynolds, FBB’s current CEO, was also present that day. After a few years of running these tours, the 2011 London riots highlighted that young people in the UK did not have the opportunities or agency to shape their future in a positive manner. Since then, the pair have been committed to building FBB as a vehicle to change the lives of young people in England. 

FBB began by running youth football sessions in a range of settings (both in school and community outreach sessions) in south London and quickly realised that there was a real need for this work. However, FBB soon established that they could make maximum impact through working with schools to engage younger people in their early teens.

This approach to early assessment and intervention focused on seeing behaviour as a form of communication, and working to support young people with long-term trusted adult relationships.

CEO Jack Reynolds has said that the goal of the charity is to ensure that vulnerable young people have someone who can support them: “We want the government to create a National Training Programme (similar to Frontline, TeachFirst and Unlocked) for school pastoral staff to ensure every vulnerable young person has a youth worker or trusted adult who can support them.

"Since its inception FBB has grown from working in one school in Croydon to now supporting over 2,000 young people and hundreds of teachers on more than 125 programmes."


"This programme will build on the learning from FBB’s existing training scheme which develops trauma-informed experts with core skills across counselling, special educational needs and teaching and learning.

“We are asking for an education system which provides our headteachers with the resources to support our most vulnerable students to thrive in mainstream school. After what these young people experienced during Covid, it feels like the bare minimum of what we should do for them.”

Since its inception FBB has grown from working in one school in Croydon to now supporting over 2,000 young people and hundreds of teachers on more than 125 programmes in London, Kent, Essex, Greater Manchester, North Lancashire, Merseyside and the West Midlands. 

One of the many young people who has benefitted from FBB's work is Fernando. The charity began working with Fernando in Year 8 and at time when he was deemed to be at risk of exclusion. Fernando had few attachment figures in his life and mental health issues in his family. However, when he was enrolled onto FBB, he was immediately elevated to a central figure in the group due to his charismas, relational skills, leadership skills and footballing ability.

Through working with FBB practitioners Stefan and Lorenzo, Fernando became more self aware and his self-regulation improved. He formed positive relationships with his teachers and his peers. Fernando collected his GCSE results this summer. He achieved a Level 9 in English Literature and a Level 9 in Music. He passed all of his other GCSEs with Level 6s and 7s. 

FBB have also recently teamed up with Common Goal in order to bring together the football industry in London to ask: what could football's role in solving some of society's biggest social problems be?

Workshops at the Football For Good Summit enabled attendees to co-create The Football For Good Gameplan. The Football For Good Gameplan is a report from said summit, and a guide on how football can be used to tackle some of society’s biggest issues.

The Gameplan documents the ideas that were captured about how football can be used to create a more inclusive society. It provides a record of the summit and the discussions that took place.

The purpose of the document is to highlight the beginnings of a movement which is intent on seeing the potential of football to do good in society. You can read the Gameplan here.

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