EFDN was officially established in 2014, however, its inception dates back to 2007 in the city of Breda, the Netherlands. The local football team, NAC Breda, was looking to develop community programmes and become more active within CSR initiative, a concept that at the time that was not very common for Dutch football clubs.
With a strong vision of how football clubs in the Netherlands and Europe could work together in collaboration by sharing knowledge and experiences and best practices to tackle social issues, the club became familiar with other clubs in Europe who shared the same ideas and values.
Together, they started an informal network with the aim of creating a shared platform which would enable clubs to more efficiently and effectively exchange information, methodologies, programmes and activities that shared a common goal. It became clear that although football clubs compete in matches on the field, clubs and their foundations are willing to come together to share knowledge and collaborate on programmes targeted at young people in their communities who were facing similar issues and challenges. This ignited a passion to create opportunities, not only for clubs to share best practices, but also to extend the option out to young people to engage in learning opportunities and bring them together using European exchange programmes.
In 2012 the first network meeting was held, with four clubs from three countries participating in a collaborative discussion about their shared visions. In the same year the first EFDN conference was staged at Emirates Stadium, the home of Arsenal Football Club.
During the second EFDN conference in Rotterdam the following clubs came together to officially found EFDN and exchange knowledge and best practices: Feyenoord Rotterdam, Fulham FC, KAA Gent, Valerenga Fotball, Anorthosis Famagusta and Tottenham Hotspur. It was at this time that EFDN was formally established as an NGO under Dutch Law.
In 2014 the word began to spread through advocacy and engagement with the European football family where opportunities continued to present themselves, such as establishing partnerships with the European Union through accessing Erasmus Plus fund to deliver youth exchanges and Pan-European programmes for clubs and young people.
Since its formal establishment in 2014, the growth of EFDN has been remarkable, and has seen the delivery of programmes and conferences positively impacting the lives of young people and disadvantaged groups across Europe. The network has gained credibility within the industry with conferences attendees comprising recognised figures within sport and business. It provides comprehensive services to its members and non-members through the delivery of Bi-Annual Conferences around Europe, Youth & Staff Exchanges & Pan-European Programmes.
The network currently consists of 58 clubs from 25 European countries who directly benefit from EFDN’s strategic partnerships with the UEFA Foundation for Children, the ECA, Football Against Racism Europe (FARE), Centre for Access in Football Europe (CAFE), the European Union and numerous Football Associations and national governing bodies across Europe.
EFDN continues to look for new ways to serve its members to enable them to engage in meaningful experiences and opportunities to inspire them to implement innovative community programmes using football as a tool for social development.