First League of Ireland Football & Social Responsibility Conference

8 April 2024

First League of Ireland Football & Social Responsibility Conference

On Thursday 4th April, the Grand Hotel in Malahide hosted the first League of Ireland “More than Football” Football & Social Responsibility Conference.

The event attracted a large audience including representatives from a wide range of agencies as several Government Departments, Healthy Ireland, Local Authorities, Academic institutions, An Garda Siochana, LOI Football Clubs and Sport Ireland but also representatives from the UNHCR, the Immigrant Council of Ireland and the UK Embassy.

The guests had the opportunity to experience a variety of excellent presentations on innovative programmes focussed on health and well-being, social inclusion, education, employability, and climate action as well as hearing about the work of the European Football for Development Network (EFDN) and more locally, the incredible social impact that Bohemian FC is having in their community. The topics of social impact partnerships and social outcome contracts were also discussed, as an alternative and innovative funding mechanism for outcomes-based FSR work.

However, the star of the show was undoubtedly Liverpool FC and the England legend John Barnes, author of the book, “The Uncomfortable Truth About Racism”.

John tackled the issues surrounding prejudice head-on with his trademark intelligence impressing the audience by confidently addressing a variety of questions and comments on racism.

“This was the LOI Department’s first major Football & Social Responsibility Conference and I think it’s provided food for thought for people from the wide range of organisations who attended. The key message resonating today was that partnerships are essential if LOI Football clubs are to play a significant role in social and environmental sustainability especially in their local communities. LOI Football clubs can be a vehicle to promote social good and this conference provided an opportunity to bring the clubs and a very broad selection of agencies together in the same room for the first time to highlight opportunities to cooperate on shared objectives”.

Derek O’Neill, LOI Football & Social Responsibility manager

The Conference was delivered as part of the FAI’s involvement as a partner in EDFN’s “More than Football” Networks which is funded by the European Union. The project is a collaboration of six top European leagues, alongside the International Olympic Truce Centre and EFDN, aiming to create partnerships across the sports sector to share best practice, enhance clubs capabilities to monitor and evaluate their activities, and promote youth social inclusion programmes.

EFDN’s CEO, Hubert Rovers, also attended the first League of Ireland “More than Football” Football & Social Responsibility Conference. He himself held a presentation at the conference, regarding the previously mentioned “More Than Football” Network.