Tuesday 04 June 2024, 17:00

FIFA Foundation, AS Roma and Twinning Project celebrate graduation of Rome cohort

  • AS Roma joined forces with the Twinning Project to run a course for male and female inmates at the Rebibbia prison in Italy

  • The course was part of the Twinning Project, founded in 2018 to help prisoners through football

  • The FIFA Foundation is supporting the worldwide expansion of the Twinning Project

A group of female inmates at the Rebibbia prison in Rome have become the first in Italy to complete a programme that uses football to step up prisoners’ rehabilitation, successfully graduating with a vocational qualification that can help them contribute to their communities upon release.

The Twinning Project – which is supported by the FIFA Foundation – seeks to enlist professional football clubs to team up with penal institutions to help prisoners prepare for their release and find a job, thereby also reducing the reoffending rate.

First introduced in the United Kingdom in 2018 and working under the mantra “Don’t look down on someone unless you are helping them back up”, the project was extended to Italy when AS Roma signed up in March, supported by funding from the FIFA Foundation.

The first 13 female inmates have now graduated and they will be followed by a men’s group of 12, followed by two more cohorts later in the year. Through a course run by AS Roma coaches on a weekly basis, participants at Rebibbia have gained a grounding in how to become coaches themselves in future. Topics included improving communication and reflection, teamwork, planning, leadership, resolving conflicts and how to boost physical and mental health.

“In life, as in football, anybody can fall down, but it’s how you recover and get back up again that is the true measure of a person,” said FIFA Foundation Executive Chairman Mauricio Macri. “The inmates who have graduated today have done just that and can justly be proud of themselves. They have stood back up again and decided to achieve something.”

“The FIFA Foundation is proud to support the Twinning Project, which is a bridge to rebuilding lives. It fully aligns with the FIFA Foundation’s belief that football can help make a positive social change in communities in every corner of the world – and among people from every walk of life,” added Mr Macri.

The Twinning Project began in the UK as a partnership between HM Prison and Probation Service and professional football clubs, with the objective of pairing every prison in England and Wales with a local professional football club.

It aims to engage approximately 48 prisoners per year at each of the 117 prisons in England and Wales in football-based programmes to improve their mental and physical health. The participants can also obtain a qualification that will improve their life chances, including by helping them to gain employment on release.

Hilton Freund, the Chief Executive Officer of the Twinning Project, commented: “The Twinning Project is delighted to be supported by the FIFA Foundation. Football can act as a powerful catalyst for change; it can create safer communities and save lives. Together with the FIFA Foundation, the Twinning Project is harnessing the power of football and football brands and ensuring criminal justice systems around the world benefit from our innovative and robust intervention.”

The project was also launched in South Africa earlier this year and the FIFA Foundation is supporting its implementation and long-term expansion worldwide.

In line with FIFA’s strategic objectives, the FIFA Foundation harnesses football as a unifying force, with revenue generated by FIFA invested back into the game through multiple channels throughout the year.

FIFA Foundation