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Football unites faith communities at Wembley

Sixty Year Five students from Muslim, Christian and Jewish faith schools across London met at Wembley Stadium for a Faith and Football schools linking day on 20 June. The initiative, organised by 3FF (Three Faiths Forum) and the Football Association, uses football to encourage understanding and collaboration between people of different faiths and beliefs.

Faith and Football is part of 3FF’s Faith School Linking programme, working with 50 schools across England. The programme actively involves students, teachers, parents and community leaders in the process.

The event marked the 4th time the students from St. Monica’s Catholic School, Al Sadiq and Al Zahra School and the North West London Jewish Day School gathered to explore each other’s identities through a range of activities. The students were given the opportunity to collaborate and design their own football strip reflecting who they are, to play football together and to deliver presentations to their parents on what they learnt from each other at Wembley Stadium.

Darren Bailey, Director of Football Governance and Regulation at the FA, said: “The FA has supported this project from its inception by using football to remove barriers between different faith based communities and engage a new generation of England fans. We are pleased that the first term of Faith in Football linking sessions has been a success. We look forward to working with our partners to continue this important work.”

Ten year old Muntazir Mohammed of Al Sadiq School said of his experience with 3FF: “The programme has been good for my social and religious development. I enjoyed playing football and meeting new people from the other schools, and I also learnt a lot about other religions.”

More than 50 parents accompanied their children to the Wembley event. Speaking about the impact of the project on her son Charlie from St. Monica’s School and his classmates, Monica Hankin said: “It has opened up their minds to different faiths. Everything you see on the news is so negative at the moment, so that they get to know different cultures is very positive. For Charlie, he has always come home and talked about the things he’s learnt about other religions. Although they learn about it at school, to actually be involved and meeting the young people as well is brilliant.”

Aisling Cohn, 3FF's School Linking Manager, said: "The Faith and Football education programme has been a great opportunity for 3FF to work in partnership with the FA. The stadium and its Learning Zone facilities has been a massive draw for all the children, their teachers and parents. It has provided a rich learning environment for everyone to understand each other's faiths and work together using the power of football. This year's project has paved the way for a similar programme to take place at Wembley next academic year."

Faith and Football is one of many initiatives taking place in 3FF’s 15th anniversary year. 3FF engages over 10,000 students, teachers, young professionals, artists and public figures a year, celebrating difference and working towards a more integrated, diverse and dynamic society.

For more information on 3FF see: www.threefaithsforum.org.uk/