International Women's Football Cultural Festival 2016 in Berlin
Intercultural relations and understanding through the soft power of the sportSeptember 16th, 2016
The Discover Football: International Women's Football Cultural Festival is an event, which aims to bring together female football players from all around the world and to give them an opportunity for cultural exchange and understanding through sport. In addition, the festival acts as a platform for discussing different approaches for dealing with new global challenges like flight, migration, transition as well as integration through football.
From 31th of August to 4th of September 2016 in Berlin at the Willy Kreßmann Stadion under the slogan "Home Game" the 5th edition of the International Women's Football Cultural Festival was held. It was a festival full of emotions, fun and actions between women’s teams from around the world – about 100 football players, coaches, referees and activists. During this one week event the participants can build new interpersonal relationships between each other and gain invaluable cultural experience.
Many of the players in the International Women's Football Cultural Festival came from countries with difficult political backgrounds but with a common passion for football. The teams were from Turkey, Afghanistan, Kenya, France, Italy, Sudan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Greece.
There were also participants from the German non-profit association Champions Ohne Grenzen Ladies (CHoG) (Champions Without Borders). The CHoG was also the organiser of the first congress of Refugees and Sports in Berlin in October 2014. It provides assistance for the refugees in Berlin-Brandenburg and uses sports as its main tool of empowerment.
The festival is a project, which will contribute to peace building and cultural relations between the countries. It aimed to show that the women have to stand up for their rights, self-realization and recognition. It was also focused on the current global situation of refugee movements. Therefore Chancellor Angela Merkel had a chance to meet all of the festival’s participants.
During the festival a special team named “Green Unity” was made. It had a coach from Sudan and players from Greece, Palestinian Territories and Libya. This team showed that football can unite the people despite languages barriers or borders. During the event workshops and training sessions were held as well as public friendly matches, team football exhibitions, panel discussions and forums, outdoor activities like beach-soccer or foot volley, concerts and films.
Through the Discover Football Festival the organisers want to show that the national, cultural as well as religious and political borders can be overcome. Furthermore, the festival is focused on bringing together women who are committed to the idea of football and its importance for better cultural understanding between people. The festival also provided opportunities for sharing experiences and building strategies related to women’s rights and gave them a common voice to advance women’s football.