The institutional agenda of FC Barcelona in New York as part of the opening of its new office in the city began on Tuesday with a large community event. The FC Barcelona Foundation was in the Bronx for the ‘FutbolNet’ project, one of its flagship programs for promoting values through sports. It was at Middle School 129 of the said district of the city; from the early hours of the morning, some 200 youngsters between the ages of 11 and 15 took part in various sporting activities which use sport as an educational tool.
This event represents the kick off of the agreement between the FC Barcelona Foundation and the Department of Education of New York City for the 2016-2017 school terms, which involves implementing ‘FutbolNet’ in one school per borough: Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan and Brooklyn.
This long-term initiative is aligned with FC Barcelona Foundation’s focus on education through sports and physical fitness in New York City public schools.
Event attendees included FC Barcelona first vice-chairman Jordi Cardoner and sporting vice-chairman Jordi Mestre, as well as former Barça star Ronaldinho, who formed part of the Club’s delegation on this trip, while ‘Dream Team’ member Hristo Stoichkov, and Line Hansen from the women's soccer team were also there.
‘FutbolNet’, values through football
It should be remembered that the arrival of FC Barcelona in New York also includes a strong social and charity aspect whereby the club’s foundation will be one of the main protagonists, and the ‘FutbolNet’ project has been chosen for this first visit.
‘FutbolNet’ is a social intervention program created by the FC Barcelona Foundation. It was first implemented in vulnerable areas in Catalonia, especially in the poorer neighborhoods of Barcelona. The underlying idea was to use sport as a tool to promote holistic development and foster social interaction amongst kids that were experiencing serious conflicts at home and were performing badly at school. The experience was so positive that it attracted international attention and received requests to be implemented overseas. Nowadays the FutbolNet program is implemented in 46 countries and reaches more than 140,000 participants.
The impact evaluations identified changes in the participants involving more focus and concentration in the classroom, greater effort to complete their homework and improved academic results. The program has proven to contribute to the improvement of school performance and reduce absenteeism.
‘FutbolNet’ works on five values which are considered key for child development: effort, respect, teamwork, humility and ambition. However, in its application in New York City, special emphasis is placed on conflict resolution, improving school performance and reducing absenteeism.
Sports at the service of sustainable development
Sports are acknowledged as a vehicle for Human Development. In 2000, the United Nations Millennium Goals, and more recently, the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development, has appointed its importance to the contribution of human development. It has been proved and measured that sport can also provide empowerment of discriminated groups and social inclusion to vulnerable children and young people.
FCB aims to put sport at the service of social development, defends values and promotes respect and equality for people everywhere. Barça represents these ideals and shared principles, which are increasingly necessary in the construction of a fairer society. The FC Barcelona Foundation's goal is to support the most vulnerable children and young people with the aim to develop their opportunities for a better future in a more inclusive society including the prevention of violence. We do this through different local and international projects that use sport as an educational tool. We want to share our expertise and place our knowledge in education through sport at the service of children in the United States.
Quote from Jordi Cardoner, FC Barcelona first vicechairman
“It is a privilege and we are delighted to be here in The Bronx. From the looks on the faces of Ronaldinho, Line and Hristo we can see that it’s been a great day for them too. The reason for the FC Barcelona Foundation and ‘FutbolNet’ being here in New York is for children to enjoy sport, strengthen their network of values and improve their motivation at school. We are hoping to expand the project to the 1,800 schools in the city.”
Quote from Eric Goldstein, NYC Department of Education School Support Services CEO
“We’re thrilled to partner with the FC Barcelona Foundation in bringing the FutbolNet project to schools in all five boroughs to provide students with a fun and interactive way to learn healthy habits and be part of a team. We congratulate FC Barcelona on the opening of their New York City office and look forward to continuing to work with them as they expand programs for students.”