7th Edition Football Works Festival – Recap

18 September 2023

7th Edition Football Works Festival – Recap

Last Thursday (14 september) the 7th edition of the international football tournament ‘Football Works’ took place. Together with the Penitentiary Institution (PI) Veenhuizen and ‘Work Through Sport’ of Ex-Made DJI we organised a day full of fun activities combined with the interesting stories of four different speakers throughout the day. Football Works is a tournament for football clubs and prisons from all over Europe that are active in the employment guidance of ex-prisoners through sport. 

Within this edition, 14 teams, including several prisons from the Netherlands participated. There were also teams from abroad that are part of the European Erasmus+ project: Bohemians FC (Dublin, Ireland), Bayer 04 Leverkusen (Leverkusen, Germany), Valerenga Fotball (Oslo, Norway), London United (London, United Kingdom) and Serbian prison Sremska Mitrovica. And of course the former pros with ‘a scratch’ from FC De Rebellen also participated.

This project utilizes a unique methodology that, if proven successful, can be replicated across Europe. The Football Works Methodology presents a three-step path towards preparing inmates across Europe for their reintegration after release to the labour market through a collaborative effort of health-enhancing and employability projects.

  • Step 1: Empowering inmates through sport and football inside prisons.
  • Step 2: Building essential hard and soft skills and coaching accreditations.
  • Step 3: Internships, volunteering and paid jobs.

As part of the opening of the tournament the teams walked onto the pitch with the flag of their country and the national anthem echoing through the speakers. With the sun fully risen, the first games started off with great joy and happiness of all the participants. With the help of Sportfishing Netherlands we introduced a new element this year – fishing. Regarding the effort put in during the football games, it was nice for the participants to have some rest at the waterfront.

Apart from all the activities outside, there was also a possibility to have a visit to the conference room and enjoy interesting workshops and lectures about related topics. During the presentations, there were enough possibilities to ask questions or have a discussion to exchange ideas and beliefs. We started off with a representative from the PI Veenhuizen who explained to all attendees about the family approach within the prison. The aim of this initiative is to minimise the damage children suffer as a result of their father being in prison. Secondly, Edward van Gils told an interesting and inspiring life story of how, through his talents and commitment, he built a life free of crime and is now a role model for youth and inmates. Football was his saviour and his best friend, his talent and passion for football earned him his own character in the popular football game FIFA, a contract with Nike and he is also the director of The Street Kings.

After the lunch break everyone was ready for the second part of the event. In the conference room, the programme resumed with a presentation of Keith Potter and Michele Glassup, who both work in Feltham prison within the Community Engagement Team. Their role involves linking with the community to bring in opportunities for the young people and young adults they work with. Both received Royal recognition in 2022 for their exceptional dedication to supporting these young people. Hadyn Morgan, an Associate Professor in the Department of Health at the University of Bath (UK), rounded off the day in the conference room with a more academic perspective on how engagement with sport and physical activity may act as a tool to divert or prevent engagement with crime and anti-social behaviour.

Meanwhile, the games continued outside, where every team did their very best to reach the final. In the end, the Bohemians were the ones to lift the trophy after an exciting final against Bayer Leverkusen. The award ceremony rounded off the day. Every team received a remarkable trophy to take home and all the trophies were manufactured inside the prison.

We can look back at an inspiring and successful day at the PI in Veenhuizen. We want to thank the DJI, Work Through Sport and the PI Veenhuizen for their collaboration. Special thanks to our main sponsor ”Your Gift” for helping to make this tournament possible.

Check the aftermovie here:


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