Brothers in arms. Youngsters from across Europe demonstrated the social benefits of football.

FOOTBALL: College of West Anglia students have been busy building bridges on the international football stage.

College staff took a team to Rome to participate in a five nations football tournament to mark the end of the two-year Social Soccer project, which has been focussed on integration. 

Social Soccer is an initiative set-up by Cohesion and Reintegration Opportunities through Social Soccer (CROSS), funded by the European Commission, supported by research from the University of Rome. 

The project involves countries from Hungary, Bulgaria, Italy, Germany and France, as well as the King’s Lynn presence.

The countries have combined with the aim of increasing participation in sport through emphasis on the social benefits of football, promoting cooperation, tolerance, mutual respect and cultural diversity. 

The CWA team were mixed up with others to include all nationalities and different levels of ability and gender in teams of 20, named after the EU constitution founding principles – Equality, Solidarity, Freedom, Dignity and Justice. 

It was Equality who proved strongest, winning the tournament.

Team members also participated in a number of other activities including a beach clean, cooking lessons and visits to historical and religious sites, such as the Vatican, to promote integration and awareness of cultural diversity. 

CWA programme manager of sport Scott Leadley said: “This is a brilliant initiative, aimed at getting people to enjoy the physical and many social benefits of football. 

“We were extremely fortunate to be able to go to Rome and experience such a rich programme, filled with games, trips and regeneration activities to help the community. It has been a fitting end to what has been an incredible two-year programme.” 

College assistant principal Andrew Gedge added: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to go to Rome and work together with other European countries to celebrate some of the core values we believe in, such as equality, mutual respect and diversity. 

“This has proved to be a fantastic initiative for college staff and students.”