The importance of football in the local community was a consistent theme during the so called county conference that took place at the beginning of the week. Around 85 people from counties, football clubs and business partners gathered to gain new knowledge about how football can create a positive impact on the local community. The conference was based on the socio-economic report “Fotbollsplanen mitt I byn”, which among other things addresses the important role of football in preventing lifelong exclusion.

Ingvar Nilsson, Sweden’s leading national economist in socio-economics, was one of the guest lecturers present during the conference. Through his lecture, he demonstrated the cost to society of people living in exclusion and how much money society can save by adding the right preventive measures.

“Football has a unique opportunity to create a meeting place for many young people. The entry barriers to football are very low, where a lot of expensive equipment is not required. You do not need to know Swedish and you do not need to be able to pass the school results. With over a million active players, of which half of all nine-year-olds play football – the sport gives young people a context, a sense of belonging and an identity”, says Ingvar Nilsson, lecturer and national economist in socio-economics.

The lecture with Ingvar Nilsson also gave the participants the opportunity to talk and reason with each other in groups. The chosen discussion topics touched on, among other things, football’s role in society and how it can be used to create a more inclusive society together with business and the public sector. The session ended with all groups sharing their reasoning. The process was led by Eva Lundmark Nilsson – co-author of the report The football pitch in the middle of the village.

“We have talked a lot about the issues in work, integration and employment. We have common goals but different roles to achieve success. It is important that we cooperate, cooperate and communicate with each other in order to achieve success with our efforts”, says Elisabet Alerstam, Section Manager at the labor market department for Malmö City.

The conference was also attended by representatives from OBOS, Sara Nazari; Sweden’s foremost spoken-word poet, Håkan Mild; club director at IFK Gothenburg and Pär Johansson; initiator and leader of Glada Hudikteatern.

The aim of the conference is to spread knowledge about the important role of football in the local society. Together with the public sector, private sector and associational life, there is a great potential to create better societies together.