Once Upon a Time....
After living in Paris during an inspiring 1998 World Cup that united a French nation, ABB exploring the idea of using football to welcome refugee youth and their families between 2004 and 2006. ABB met with football groups, people, community groups, individuals, MRC’s and conducted a literature review to explore what was happening around the world. A steering committee was formed in early 2006, and the first funding opportunities were sought.
The Refugee Soccer Program was launched in August 2006, followed by coaching, refereeing courses for youth in Blacktown.
In 2007 the first Camp took place in partnership with STARTTS, with Aytek Genc headlining as coach. It was during this camp that participants were asked to come up with a name, and Refugee Soccer Program was rebranded as Football United. Early activities were supported by PCYC. Two huge 2007 achievements continue today: Blacktown's Football in the Park drop in program and law firm Gilbert + Tobin establish a strategic partnership.
In early 2008 Football United launched the first 2 school-based programs at Miller and Lurnea High Schools. Both remain engaged to this day. The first Football United girl's program kicked off in mid-2008, and we locked in 2 game-changing partnerships: membership to Streetfootballworld network, and a successful ARC grant application. At this time Tun Aung Shwe joined the team.
The ARC grant allowed us to monitor and evaluate the impact of the program on humanitarian refugee youth arriving in Australia. Anne attended the first FIFA Football for Hope Forum in South Africa, and soon after received a formal invitation to FIFA's Football for Hope Festival to be held during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. In late 2009 Assmaah Helal and Stuart Meney joined the team.
2010 saw a team of 8 youth in Sydney attend the FIFA Football for Hope Festival. The journey was documented in Passport to Hope, a feature length film that won a Human Rights award later in the year (see below, password: united). One of the team members, Anyier Teresa Yuol, secured a UNSW scholarship through Football United.
Anne Bunde-Birouste, Assmaah Helal and Tun Aung Shwe joined the Australian delegation at the first Pacific Youth and Sports Conference in New Zealand. In mid-2010 Football United launched early versions of what would become Creating Chances, our life skills through sport workshops and activities.
In 2011 our innovative vision was rewarded with a Telstra Foundation grant, and Digital Connections project was launched. We worked with our partner schools to embed film and photography in our activities, and Phillip Noyce joined as Ambassador. Weekly programs in Sydney continued to grow and new sites were launched to cater to demand.
3 years of monitoring our programs were shared through the ARC Report launch, presented by David Gonski. Our global engagement grew, with ABB a featured speaker at the first ever Beyond Football during the global Beyond Sport forum.
Field of Dreams: The Football United song was produced by Vienna People in early 2013, quickly followed by the 2nd FIFA Football for Hope Forum in Brazil during the Confederations Cup. The Creating Chances name was formalised and HRH Prince Ali al bin Hussein joinedFIFA Exco Committee Member Moya Dodd at our program in Auburn.
After many years of planning, we launched Football United Myanmar, directed by Tun Aung Shwe and Myanmar Red Cross. The program continues to grow. At the end of 2013 Football United led a 50-strong Australian delegation to the 2nd PYASC in New Caledonia.
Our international engagement grew, with a team of 6 youth invited to the FIFA Football for Hope Festival in Rio de Janeiro during the 2014 World Cup, and ABB presented Football United at Soccerex Asia in Jordan and AFC Conference in Vietnam.
During the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia, Football United organised the Dream Asia United Football Festival in partnership with AFC. We also began collaborating with Rugby Youth Foundation to transform Creating Chances from a program into an innovative social enterprise.
UNSW awarded a second scholarship to Football United youth, and Founder ABB was acknowledged for her working, being named as NSW State Finalist for Australian of the Year.
In the 10th year of existence, Football United joined hundreds of international delegates in Lyon at Streetfootballworld's Festival 2016, and formed a partnership with UNSW SPHCM Yunus Social Business for Health Hub.