ALLtogether: Football as a global means of communication

  • ALLtogether promotes the meeting of cultures among young people

  • Uses football as a global means of communication

  • "It’s about collectiveness, not isolation"

The ALLtogether – European youth football festival development project, run by the KOMM MIT not-for-profit organisation for international youth, sporting and cultural exchanges – can be summarised in one simple word: together.

"The ‘altogether’ idea of peaceful coexistence is the basic principle behind KOMM MIT. We organise international youth tournaments to promote the meeting of cultures among young people, and this saw the hosting of the ALLtogether – European youth football festival in 2008," the organisation’s CEO Philipp Reinartz says of the project, in an interview with FIFA.com.

Football is used as a way for children and young people from different countries aged eight to 18 to be brought together and to get to know one another by means of a specially designed framework programme, and the sport’s popularity makes it a global means of communication.

"I believe that football makes it easier to get certain messages across. With children and young people in particular, it has the greatest potential to deal with or subconsciously create an awareness of subjects that may be more complex, all while playing sport," explains Reinartz, whose father founded KOMM MIT back in 1983.

"We shouldn’t expect too much of football though," Reinartz continued. "It already does plenty as it is, but I think it would be tough to use football as the universal panacea for a lot of social problems and complex issues. It always comes down to who is organising the football. When volunteers are involved, you need to keep an eye on how much these people are being expected to do when it comes to using football to solve social problems."

Picture: copyright by KOMM MIT

The youth football tournaments have always been held in Europe with the exception of 1993, when one was organised in Senegal, but interest and demand is increasing outside of the old continent.

"Argentina, Chile and Mexico are three examples of countries which are increasingly looking at what KOMM MIT has to offer," Reinartz continues, "and this has got us thinking about whether we could organise another tournament outside Europe."

This would be no easy task for the organisation, which is fully self-financing.

"Our development projects – and indeed the volunteer positions and the health aspect – are all financed or re-financed by the contributions of the teams that take part in our tournaments. What we make at the end of the day goes straight back into the football. We support clubs with volunteer work, health education via the German Children’s Cancer Support Associations and the ALLtogether European youth football festival."

The emotions that you can generate from working together and the obvious fact that we all have more common ground than differences is what ALLtogether is trying to communicate at the end of the day.

Philipp Reinartz, KOMM MIT CEO

While teams specifically sign up for the other KOMM MIT youth tournaments, for example to get international playing experience, those taking part in an ALLtogether European youth football festival are specifically invited, with the respective national associations submitting requests. The focus of the festival is respect, diversity, fair play, peaceful coexistence and developing new friendships.

"The emotions that you can generate from working together and the obvious fact that we all have more common ground than differences is what ALLtogether is trying to communicate at the end of the day, which is why I believe that events like ALLtogether are very important – particularly at the moment," concluded Reinartz. "For people to see that it’s about collectiveness, not isolation and to reflect on what is happening where you are from. You need to be able to get to know people in a positive environment to have a positive interaction with them in the future."