Football challenging intercultural sharing

(Part 1)

From Cañada Real – a shanty town on the outskirts of Madrid.

For Adrian, a 17-year-old Romani who lives in Cañada and is a big fan of Sergio Ramos, and Mohammed, a 16‑year-old Moroccan who dreams of one day seeing Messi play, the recent ‘Moros v Gitanos’ tournament was Cañada Real’s equivalent of Real Madrid CF v FC Barcelona.

Last February, Red Deporte organised a special Under-15 tournament for boys from the two largest communities living in Cañada: Moroccans and Roma – ‘Moros v Gitanos’, as the locals dubbed it. For the hundreds of boys and girls who came to cheer the teams on, the result mattered a lot, with both communities keen to prove their superiority. However, despite the divisions between the two groups, there was mutual respect and a good atmosphere throughout, with all tension relating purely to the football.

Through this tournament, Red Deporte sought to foster mutual respect and friendship, without seeking to eliminate spontaneity – as reflected, for example, in the name that the children gave to the tournament. Indeed, one of Red Deporte’s key objectives is to use football – and sport in general – to break down barriers and prejudices, both inside and outside Cañada.

Both teams conducted themselves impeccably on the pitch – a far cry from the stereotypical behaviour that a large section of our society would expect from ‘gitanos’ and ‘moros’. Although the Moroccans secured a narrow victory on the pitch, everyone was a winner, enjoying a great day’s football and successfully using sport to dignify life in Cañada a little.

Red Deporte’s football programme, which is run under the motto ‘football with no limits’, is also aimed at other immigrant and refugee groups in the Madrid region.

Cañada Real, where those young people live, is just 7km from Madrid – a stone’s throw away. And yet, their infrastructure and environmental conditions are light years away from those seen in the Spanish capital. Meanwhile, the neighbourhood shared by the Moroccan and Roma communities is, in turn, divided by an age‑old invisible wall called ‘mistrust’. Those two communities are both beneficiaries of the sports programme run by Red Deporte and four other social organisations in Cañada, but the Roma and the Moroccans essentially train separately seven days a week.

Field in a Box – Cañada Real

Location and general information


The UEFA Foundation for Children exists to promote the fundamental rights of children all over the world. Health, education, access to sport and personal development are all areas in which children’s rights can be safeguarded.
By providing infrastructure such as football pitches, the Foundation aims to use football as a powerful tool for social cohesion.


The Field in a Box project was launched in Cañada Real. Situated less than 15 minutes from the Spanish capital, Cañada Real is one of the largest shanty towns in Europe, housing a total of 30,000 people in deplorable conditions. Relations between the different communities that live there, especially between Roma and Moroccan immigrants, are often difficult.
Thanks to financial support from FedEx – the world’s largest logistics company and main sponsor of the UEFA Europa League – and coordination by the not-for-profit organisation streetfootballworld, the UEFA Foundation for Children donated a football pitch to the charity Red Deporte y Cooperación. The pitch was built using the Field in a Box system, in which all the components of a football pitch are supplied in two containers. The system provides a safe sports facility comprising an enclosed artificial football pitch, goals, floodlights and changing rooms.


The project’s main objective is to enable young people in Cañada Real, where sports facilities are few and far between, to play sport. By promoting football in Cañada Real, the foundation hopes to curb the exclusion of marginalised communities and foster greater social harmony.


In the space of one year:

  • Participation of 400 children (90% boys and 10% girls) in football
  • Organisation of 500 matches
  • Pitch maintained by youth coaches from the local community

Field in a Box is funded as part of FedEx Cares, a wide-ranging campaign that aims to invest in more than 200 communities in Europe and beyond by 2020. By cooperating with the UEFA Foundation for Children alongside its sponsorship of professional football, FedEx hopes to support initiatives with a positive local impact.


UEFA Foundation for Children provides funds to Play for Change programme in Nepal

Programme designed to bring positive changes in children’s lives

At its last board meeting in November, the UEFA Foundation for Children decided to provide funds to Play for Change, to help the organisation in its delivery of a sport and education programme in Besisahar – a municipality in Nepal that was affected by two earthquakes in April and May 2015. The programme, known as Khelaun Khelaun (‘let’s play’ in Nepali), is designed to use sport as a vehicle to improve children’s health and well-being, increase girls’ participation in sport and create local employment, thereby developing long-term opportunities and access to sport.

The programme will be based in and around Besisahar, which is located in the Lamjung district of Nepal. Current access to sport is poor, especially as Lamjung and its sports facilities were were damaged by the two earthquakes last year. The participation of women and girls in sport presents another testing challenge.

Play for Change is working hand-in-hand with Global Action Nepal to ensure that all children have the chance to play sport in their schools and communities.

The main aims of the Khelaun Khelaun sports programme are to:

  • increase participation in sport among disadvantaged children, especially girls;
  • establish sports activities and local leagues in 40 schools in and around Besisahar;
  • improve sports infrastructure and facilities;
  • train coaches and teachers in local communities;
  • promote health and well-being;
  • create brighter perspectives for children in and around Besisahar, by enabling them to acquire new skills;
  • empower and develop skills within the community.

José Manuel Durão Barroso, chairman of the UEFA Foundation for Children’s board of trustees, said: “Sport has a vital role to play in bringing meaning and fun to children’s lives, and the UEFA Foundation for Children is determined to be at the vanguard of promoting health and well-being through sporting activity. The establishment of a sport and education project in this area of Nepal will not only give joy to children, but also help create and foster a positive future for the community. We fully support Play for Change in its admirable work, and wish everyone the very best in this exciting venture.”

Marie Le Page, Director of Play for Change, said: “We are really excited to be working with UEFA Foundation for Children where we share a passion for sport. We believe that this project will offer a great platform and opportunity to the devastated communities of Nepal.”


Play for Change (PFC) is dedicated to the provision of life-changing opportunities for children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Read more about Play for Change and its work on

Global Action Nepal (GAN) has been improving access to and the quality of education in Nepal for 20 years, working primarily with remote and marginalised communities. Read more about Global Action Nepal and its work on

Just Play raises funds to rebuild the Louis-Antoine de Bougainville School in Vanuatu

After Tropical Cyclone Pam, which badly damaged the Vanuatu archipelago’s infrastructure, it is now time to take action and start rebuilding. The coordinators of the Just Play programme have decided to start fundraising to contribute to the rebuilding of the severely damaged Louis-Antoine de Bougainville school, with the support of partners such as the government, several institutions, and children who are involved in sport programmes and community life.

Just Play trainers VAN(1)

Delphin N’alunis, fundraising coordinator, said: “Sport can put a smile back on our faces. Let’s get together and work together to lift the spirits of all the children who have been affected by Cyclone Pam with peace, joy, and happiness.”

Despite the recent events, the Just Play programme is continuing its training and education activities. A train the trainer course was held from 27 April to 1 May in Port Vila, at the Teouma academy. It brought together the 13 Just Play coordinators from the different islands involved.