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By The Drum | Editorial

November 27, 2023 | 6 min read

Football Beyond Borders (FBB) won the Experience For Good category at The Drum Awards for Experience with its clever campaign to build upon the success of the Lionesses team.

Objectives and Challenge: Following the Lionesses’ landmark Euros win in the summer of 2022– hailed as a breakthrough for the women’s game – 46% of teen girls say they are watching more football than ever before, yet 53% say they rarely or never play football at all (Football Beyond Borders research, 2023), demonstrating that their interest is not translating from screen to squad and a legacy opportunity has been missed. When asked what is stopping teen girls from playing the results are wide-ranging – from being told they can’t play football while wearing their hijab, schools removing girls' football when certain PE teachers leave, or boys’ tendency to dominate the football pitches in schools (only 40% of schools offer girls the same access to football as boys).

Football Beyond Borders (FBB) – an education and social inclusion charity – is the solution to many of those barriers. They started in 2018 and have grown massively to now work with over 800 girls across London, Manchester, and Birmingham. FBB’s programmes use football to keep young people engaged in school – 95% of young people at risk of exclusion that the charity supports finish school and their participants are 11x more likely to pass English and Math GCSEs than national comparison groups.

Ahead of the 2023 Women’s Football World Cup and the increased attention on Women’s football, FBB were determined to ensure the Lionesses’ crucial legacy opportunity was not missed this time. In partnership with GoFundMe they set out to raise enough money to ensure a generation of teenage girls aren’t left behind by:

Generating mass awareness of the barriers preventing young girls from playing football

Raising enough money to fund 100 places for young girls on FBB programmes

Raising awareness of FBB’s work and how the general public can support it

Strategy: For most people, particularly men, it’s hard to fully grasp the barriers these young girls face just by being told about them. To drive awareness, understanding and, crucially, donations we needed to make them actually feel and experience the barriers. Our plan was to create an immersive experience in a high footfall inner-city location where we could target people with an interest in football and money to spare. We aimed to insert the life of a teenage girl’s experiences with football into the hearts of the public in London, during the Women’s World Cup.

This experience served multiple purposes:

It utilized behavioral psychology to appeal to people’s emotions and then provide the opportunity to donate when they’re at the most immersive, emotional point.

It acted as a base for media coverage, inviting press, TV, and social down to experience it.

It featured in supporting content.

Execution: The experience ran over two days in London’s King’s Cross and was staffed by young people that had been through the programmes. Only they truly know the barriers faced, and only they could deliver the messages so we wanted to employ them as opposed to generic promotional staff. They accompanied participants through the experience and told their individual story.

The experience featured four areas:

Break barriers The experience started by walking through custom-made turnstiles which were a physical representation of the barriers girls face when playing football- hard to pass and featuring relevant stats such as “Only 30% of parents think sport is important for their daughters versus 41% for boys”.

Where change happens They then entered a makeshift changing room, which showcases the work the charity has been doing to level the playing field, featuring success stories from girls helped by FBB. These individual stories were augmented by the participant’s host telling their own personal story.

Pathway to potential A crucial element of behavioral psychology when it comes to charity donation is to make it personal and specific. If there is no link between your donation and a specific use case it is a less compelling proposition. So we created a pinboard of numerous monetary amounts and specific user benefits that would come from those donations with pictures of the relevant individuals.

New Era New Game The final area was a place of hope and possibility. Featuring a replica of the Women’s World Cup designed by one of FBB’s young people, and multiple opportunities to donate, it was a place for reflection for the participant and their guide. To reflect on their experience, the barriers faced, and the change that is possible.

The experience was accompanied by a film telling the stories of the girls positively affected by the scheme (the same girls that staffed the experience). The girls developed their relationship skills, engaging in intergenerational dialogue and communicating their stories to an array of people from different demographics whilst developing their understanding of marketing, sales and behavioural psychology.

Results: Our aims were to increase awareness and donations, and we achieved both. Over 275,000 people were exposed to the experience over two days in King’s Cross. Using the experience as a base for PR coverage led to over 450 pieces of coverage including ITV News 6PM bulletin, Sky Sports and BBC News. Most important of all, £59k+ has been raised so far. This will provide sufficient funding for 128 girls to receive a full year’s worth of support from FBB’s award-winning programme in schools, providing access to classroom and football sessions focused on developing key social, emotional and life skills and therapeutic mentoring. These elements are combined with transformational trips and rewards, such as visits to the home of English football, St George’s Park.

“This activation, delivered in partnership with The Park, was a first for FBB. We’ve held high-profile events at the Tottenham Stadium with hundreds of guests, but to see our young people lead conversations with the public about the impact that football had on their lives was really inspiring. The two-day pop up saw us engage with thousands of people from across the UK in one of the busiest commuter areas of the city. The exposure, relationships and media packages that came with the experiential will help us to achieve our mission of transforming the lives of young people through football for many years to come.” - Ceylon Andi Hickman, Director of External Relations; Football Beyond Borders

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