Football Beyond Borders’ Annual Showcase

Faith Lydon 31/03/2022 6 minutes

Football Beyond Borders’ (FBB) Annual Showcase delivered a winning hatrick: it asked us to remember the past, ruminate on the present and imagine a different future. The Brixton charity’s event featured a powerful mix of personal stories, panel discussions and speeches, underscored by moving video montages and a grassroots soundtrack.

FBB is one of our partner charities, and combines young people’s love of football with educational opportunities. They exist to support those children who may find it difficult to fulfil their potential in school, providing a safe and exciting environment for them to thrive in.

As a registered charity, Google offers a grant to help build awareness and drive donations, and the team at Passion was thrilled to take on the challenge of taking responsibility for FBB’s Google Ads grant account. What’s more, since taking ownership of their account, we’ve seen FBB’s site traffic increase alongside website donations. 

A group of us Passionistas were fortunate enough to attend their Annual Showcase at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium, and we were blown away, not just by the swanky venue… Read on to find out more. 

Annual Showcase Kick Off 

The event kicked off (pun intended) with an energetic opening that included a pre-recorded Zoom call with Ian Wright, one of FBB’s ambassadors, with musical accompaniment from rapper Little Simz. This was followed by a montage of the team behind FBB, and its members. 

This immersive and vibrant opening got the audience going, and set the tone for the rest of the evening. The same vibrancy was seen in the evening’s young hosts Riley and Chanel, whose stories and introductions set up the various speakers who would pepper the evening with their own insights. 

Personal Stories

Personal stories were shared throughout the showcase by current and former FBB members, as well as those who had joined the organisation as mentors. The speakers spanned FBB’s various locations throughout London and the North West. We heard from Harri as he told us about his trials and tribulations at school; from Leah as she bantered on stage with friends; from Chanel as she told us about her family; and from Sam telling us quite simply how he “always felt like a square peg in a round hole”

Each story was completely individual, yet all of them had a unified theme: how FBB had helped them blossom. Football Beyond Borders helped improve these young adults’ lives, both in and out of school, by giving them access to sports, friends, education, workshops and most importantly:  a trusted adult to turn to in tough times.

We heard from Sam about the void in his life which was filled by becoming a staff member at FBB, and how working there led him to realise how different his teenage years could have been if he had joined back then. It’s worth mentioning here that many of the young people sharing their stories were in their early teens, pre-GCSE age.

From the confidence and charisma with which they presented, as well as the self-reflection (something often acquired at a much older age), we’d never have guessed, and this only made their accounts even more admirable. This is where the magic of FBB showed its face in real time, as the audience sat enraptured and moved by these dynamic, mature and most importantly, happy young voices. 

“The energy was amazing. I was inspired by how confident the speakers were. To stand in front of over 600 people and express their passions and emotions like they did was truly amazing. FBB is a charity where you can feel the genuine desire to make these young adults’ lives better. I am looking forward to working closer with them in the future.”

Freddie, PPC Account Manager

Panel Discussions

During the evening, there were also talks and interviews in the form of panel discussions. One of which was called ‘Gamechangers’;  FBB’s curriculum module that focuses on black role models who have shaped history. They discussed how this works in practice at FBB with Isiah stating how he felt when he learnt the facts “I was surprised and angry. Surprised because it made me happy to see Black people do great things, angry because it took me fifteen years to learn about it”

Another panel was led by Henry Winter, Chief Football Writer at The Times, and featured Ledley King (Tottenham Hotspur Ambassador) and Debra Nelson (FBB ex-Participant, now Educational Assistant). They discussed their personal stories and journeys, as well as the continuing need for access to football and extracurricular activities for inner city children.

Debra stressed the importance of this for inner city girls in particular, speaking of the lack of representation for BAME women, not only in sport, but in general. “When I was younger,” she explained. “I would look at sports teams and boardrooms and they didn’t represent me. I couldn’t see myself in those women.”  She went on to discuss the lack of representation for women from different socio-economic backgrounds, stating that “we need players at the top end of the game who share the same lived experience as the girls we work with at FBB”. 

Debra painted a powerful picture of how there is a need for the voices – and corner kicks – of these girls to be heard, finishing her segment with a powerful closing comment to the women in the audience: “Whatever the ceiling is, you can smash through it and make the future yours”. 

This call out to society continued with another FBB staff member, Kelvyn. As he took to the stage, he similarly heralded the lack of diversity, stating that “power is all too often because of network, and not from merit… The creative industries aren’t diverse enough to represent the diverse amount of talent in the next generation”

Kelvyn then introduced to the audience a whole new extension of FBB, Youth Beyond Borders – a new creative agency. The idea behind YBB is that the young people at FBB will form their own creative agency to pitch ideas to other agencies across the UK, demonstrating their ideas and capabilities. We personally can’t wait to hear more and get involved with this exciting next chapter.

The Evening Draws to a Close

In the closing half of the evening, we heard from Daniel, Shaquille and Taijuan, who provided an incredible eulogy for their friend Zaian. In December 2021, Zaian – himself a member of FBB – heartbreakingly passed away after a stabbing in Croydon. The three young men stood on stage in front of a huge audience to speak about their friend. They told stories, shared amusing anecdotes and explained all the things that they loved about Zaian to the audience. There was also a track played which was written by Shaquille about Zaian and his passing.

The emotion felt in the audience was palpable as we listened to these incredibly brave young men pay respect to their friend. This painful part of the evening brought home another truth about why organisations like Football Beyond Borders are so important for young people in our society. 

“It is hard to find a place to start in describing Zaian. There are some people you meet in life who have an impact on you which is difficult to articulate. It is something close to an intense feeling of closeness and warmth, but there is so much more to it.” 

FBB Participants who knew Zaian – read more here

The evening as a whole was an incredibly special experience. Football Beyond Borders pulled off a showcase that was at once energetic and fun, whilst also being incredibly moving and intimate. No stone was left unturned, and we were given personal access into these young people’s lives while getting to see first hand what amazing work FBB do for the community every day. Indeed, the showcase challenged us to ask questions of the status quo; from underfunded estates, to establishments such as schools and large corporations. The true power in this showcase was its ability to show the light as well as the dark, making it an absolutely unforgettable experience. 

Thank you to FBB for inviting us to witness such an incredible event. Working with charities is such a huge part of Passion, especially given that one of our values is respect. We truly respect the work that FBB do each and every day. At Passion we feel incredibly proud to support these amazing organisations and can’t wait to continue our journey with them to help make the world that bit better. Read our blog for more content that will leave you feeling inspired.