A piece of paper and a Miro Board: Football Makes History
And here we go, it started.
We live in a world where everything, year after year seems more evanescent, ethereal… Working remotely, far from each other, sitting on a zoom call while sipping coffee in a bar full of strangers, it is hard to see what’s real and what’s not nowadays, in many different ways.
But one project: Football Makes History, is definitely “real”. And I could see it, with striking evidence, in Katowice, Poland in October 2022.
Football Makes History is the first EU-funded project that In Media Res joined as a partner in a consortium. Even though I worked on many projects – in and out of IMR – that received funding from the EU, it is a different thing to be part of a Consortium with your own company and it is something that deserves a few lines and a sip of wine (pun intended).
The project is led by the University of Rotterdam and it is funded by the European Union under the Erasmus+ programme and aims to unlock the potential of football for education and cultural heritage.
There are hundreds of famous football teams (only if counting the major leagues), with thousands of players, loved by millions of people. Almost all of these clubs have a museum. What if we make them more than just museums focused on the successes and the trophies of the team and start to show more than just success stories? What if we show “Histories”?
There are hundreds of famous football teams (only if counting the major leagues), with thousands of players, loved by millions of people. Almost all of these clubs have a museum.
Football is much more than just a collection of wins and losses, and we came to understand that deeply during the previous edition of the project (2018-2021) I was contracted by Jonathan Even-Zohar (Evenzo Consultancy) as a Filmmaker to write and produce a series of documentaries about football and society but also as Creative Director, to lead the content strategy and the design of the website.
During that project, we met great people and learned about amazing stories, among others, a group of fantastic women who climbed Kilimanjaro to bring attention to the too-often underrepresented female football league, and St.Ambreous football team. A team that brings together Italians and refugees from Africa to climb the ladder of FIGC (Italian federation of football) and bring attention to the problem of asylum seekers. This documentary that I had the privilege to write and direct, is nominated for an award at the prestigious 40th edition of FICTS, one of the most important Sports Film Festivals in the world, that takes place in Milan on November 9-13 2022.
This year, the new edition of the Football Makes History Project brings new challenges, but as said before, it started with a piece of paper (and a Miro Board). Jonathan Even-Zohar, the initiator of the project back in 2018, contacted me in 2019 and asked to join the project to increase its impact and reach; but our collaboration fueled new ambitions and ideas. This is what was brought to the table in 2021, with a goal in mind, not only to continue a great project but to come up with an ambitious renewed vision.
During the previous edition of the project, innovative teaching materials were developed and tested in many school history classes all over Europe, with the goal to teach history through the lens of football.
The new ambition is to bring the project (and the students) outside of classrooms, in the public. Push the students outside of the schools and in their community, and bring the community of real people, from every walks of life – that is so well represented by local football teams – into school education.
The goal is to unlock the potential of both domains: Football and History Education, and allow the students together with their teachers, educators and professionals, to do it.
Specifically, it will be the students of ZSTIO, a technical High School in Katowice (PL), where students will engage with their local football teams as producers, seeking those stories (or “Histories”), writing articles and short documentaries, and one class of older students from Reinwardt Academy in Amsterdam (NL) at the Cultural Heritage Master Programme, that will engage with Eintracht Frankfurt Museum in Frankfurt (DE), to pave the way for a change in Football Museums.
Erasmus University in Rotterdam (NL), will assess the whole process in order to provide useful inputs in informing the implementation of these practices during – but most importantly beyond – the end of the project. Euroclio – The European Association of History Educators, will develop a Methodology, including a set of hands-on teaching strategies and FARE Network, the organization in charge of monitoring discriminatory incidents for FIFA, will engage with their global and diverse network of football supporters, stakeholders and the interested public in order to share the ambitious aims of the project.
Until 2021, all of this was just a piece of paper and a Miro Board, but it transformed into hundreds of students and local authorities meeting together to celebrate the beginning of a three years effort that will certainly (at least I hope) have an impact on many people’s lives.