During the 2020/2021 football season, as part of the project activities focusing on sports impact in local communities, Bridges supported Football Club Zagreb 041 in organizing their season for their junior team. They held regular training sessions, around two times a week. In addition, the junior team also played a game almost every weekend during the season! They were not without hindrances – the trainings and games were stopped for a period because of Covid-19 measures, and for most of the season there was no audience allowed at the games, which stopped the club from organizing bigger public tournaments and get-togethers. But the sports part was successful – kids trained, played the games, and made new friends!
Around 15-20 children up until the age 11 were regulars at attending trainings, and those most willing played the weekend games. Children were coming from different countries: Croatia, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq etc., gathering from the communities currently most numerous in Croatia. The FC has been focusing its work in the last years on supporting children refugees who moved to Croatia with their families. Important to mention is the big support to the kids that came from their families – who would encourage them in taking up football, took them to practices, watched the games.
Kids got a chance to have a regular sports activity to keep them healthy, an opportunity to connect with local kids, and have an extra activity to keep them busy. Throughout the season they built connections, proving that sports really connects people, even if you are lacking a common language to communicate with, they laughed and cried together, and most importantly approached football as a fun activity.