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EFDN uses football as a tool for rehabilitation

Copyrights: EFDN

EFDN uses football as a tool for rehabilitation

This past week saw the inaugural Football Works Festival, hosted by the European Football for Development Network together with the Dutch Justice Department. The festival programme was centred around using football to engage criminal offenders as a means of rehabilitation and reintegration, while contributing to their employability.

On 13 June 2019, the European Football for Development Network (EFDN) and Dutch Justice Department jointly organised the first ever Football Works Festival at De Karelskamp prison in Almelo, the Netherlands.

The Festival programme included a conference with experts and leaders in the field presenting and hosting workshops on programmes from across Europe that use football as a tool for offender rehabilitation, reintegration, and employability. At the same time, 14 teams from all over Europe competed in a football tournament. Among the players were not only (former) participants in football based rehabilitation and employability programmes but also former professional players that call themselves “the rebels”. 

Gerko Brink, project coordinator at the Dutch Justice Department, and EFDN’s CEO Hubert Rovers welcomed the more than 50 attendees to the first Football Works Conference. “The Football Works Festival is a perfect platform to show good examples of resocialisation”, explained Brink. Rovers said that he hopes to create a sustainable platform of exchange on football and prisoners including professional and grassroots clubs.

Copyrights: EFDN

EFDN and Dutch Justice Department welcome more than 50 attendees

As the first guest speaker, Pete Bell talked about his own experiences with the justice system in England and how he made it from being an inmate to his current work as a coach and mentor. Bell is an ex-offender and presented his new initiative ‘Step Out Stay Out’. “Football instills discipline, cohesion and teamwork. It’s got all the ingredients to make a difference”, explained Bell on the impact of football on prisoners lives. 

Afterwards, Rosie Meek, a Professor of Psychology and founder of the Law School at Royal Holloway University of London, summarised her research on the impact of sports on prisoners. Her detailed and reliable recommendations were very interesting for attending practitioners.

The last presentation before the lunch saw Yolanda Antin from Barça Foundation speaking about their inclusion programmes at minors and youth centres. She highlighted the positive outcomes of the programmes like healthy habits, intercultural exchange and prevention of violence.


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Wednesday, June 19, 2019 - 09:32