In a bid to give young people a space to openly talk about their lives in lockdown, charity Football Beyond Borders and sports creative agency
Dark Horses, with support from Joe.co.uk, have created Football Beyond Walls. During Mental Health Week, this initiative will use games of FIFA between young people, FBB practitioners and professional footballers to show this at risk, but often forgotten, group that meaningful conversations can have a positive effect on a young person’s sense of wellbeing. And that they can happen within the confines of their home. While playing FIFA.
Football Beyond Walls combines a passion for the game and the psychological process of distraction therapy - which says that when partially distracted we are able to have more sincere and meaningful conversations - to help teens open up.
The initiative is being launched by a four-minute film starring professional footballer Cyrus Christie playing two young people, Freddie and Bland, at FIFA. During the games, they move into honest conversations about football, mental health and the current lockdown. Cyrus has himself talked openly about his own issues with mental health.
The piece was filmed in their own homes with remote direction from Outsider’s Tom Day, adding a level of production quality difficult to obtain during the lockdown period. Questions and conversation starters were provided and guided throughout by FBB’s professional practitioners. Parents also gave written permission for Freddie and Bland to appear.
Tom Day, director at Outsider, said: “Like any Director, I thrive on set with cast and crew around me, but lockdown has forced us all to quickly adapt to new ways of working. I’m so proud of how the film looks despite not being in the room with Cyrus, Bland and Freddie. Although I’ve never met them in person we’ve bonded remotely and through necessity, which only strengthens the message of this project. We all made this film together.”
As the captivating and enlightening film progresses it shows the highs and lows of their game of FIFA juxtaposed, through the conversation with Cyrus, against the highs and lows of mental health. As they open up, they begin to reveal some incredibly insightful thoughts about how to live in today’s world and deal with the lockdown.
Jasper Kain, co-founder of Football Beyond Borders, said: “When it comes to the lockdown, there has been a clear trend that teenagers feel isolated and do not feel as though they have a voice. We have also seen during this period that gaming is hugely popular and the main avenue in which teenage boys connect with the outside world. We want to harness this popularity as a force for good. When used in the correct way, games such as FIFA can be beneficial. It provides an opportunity to connect with others in a safe space and give young people a place to talk in a way that is very difficult to achieve in everyday life - especially when that life is spent indoors.”
Adam Burns, senior creative at Dark Horses, added: “To anyone who's grown up playing FIFA, this isn't news. Some of the most meaningful conversations I've had with my mates have taken place whilst playing FIFA. The shared focus on the game allows you to almost detach emotionally, you lose yourself on the pitch, giving you the freedom to talk about whatever is on your mind. And this is what we wanted to capture with the film.”
The film is scored by London grime artist, Yizzy, and his track Hustle Hard, which also appears on FIFA 20. EA Sports suggest that more than 10 million people play FIFA globally with the largest proportion of those being teens. Each and every game with a friend is an opportunity to reconnect and have a meaningful conversation. You can become a supporter of Football Beyond Borders by clicking here
Football Beyond Borders (FBB) is a youth football charity that supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who are passionate about football but disengaged at school. Their aim is to use the power of football to help them finish school with the skills and grades to make a successful transition into adulthood. It does this by providing long-term, intensive support, built around relationships and young people’s passions, in the classroom and beyond. Since it was founded in 2013, more than 2000 young people have benefited from Football Beyond Borders programmes. It now works with hundreds of young people every day across London and the North West of England.
Since the beginning of the lockdown, they have launched their FBB Virtual School which is working with over 250 young people each week to provide wellbeing and educational support. As part of this, they are supporting young people to connect in meaningful ways that will benefit their mental health, during a time of prolonged social isolation.