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Written by Jessica Kellner

Posted on 05/04/2022

Jessica Kellner

Supporting underprivileged children in their football trajectory with Multifoot

Bits of Love is sponsoring Multifoot, a three-day football camp in Bruges with Easter and summer editions. The camp is focused on teaching and further developing children’s technical, tactical, and physical football skills. 

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From left to right: Kenny Verduyn (head trainer @ V.V.C. Beernem), Siebe Hindryckx (trainer @ Club Brugge NXT U11), Jessica Kellner (Managing Partner @ Bits of Love), Dimi Wellens (physical coach @ Club Brugge NXT)

Multifoot vzw was started by four football specialisation” colleagues at KTA Brugge. On the one hand, the organisation is focused on teaching and further developing technical, tactical, and physical football skills. On the other, they aim to pay sufficient attention to athleticising” young footballers by offering a wider range of omnisports’.

For this year’s Easter and summer editions, Bits of Love will be sponsoring a couple of spots to grant underprivileged children the opportunity to attend a fun camp and improve their football skills. With this, our aim is to promote the accessibility and inclusion of the sports camp.

In order to do this properly, we worked together with Houvast Brugge to guide and refer suitable candidates from vulnerable families. This collaboration ensures that underprivileged children can get the opportunity to attend a fun camp and improve their football skills considerably, free of charge. 

Empowering those who need it.

With managing partner Jessica’s background as a social worker and her first-hand experience in helping welcome and integrate refugees, we know how impactful sports can be.

In my time as the coordinator for our leisure offers, it really struck me that football is a sport that nearly everyone likes to play. There are many other activities where the cultural differences can end up being a real barrier or serve as a point of frustration. In football, the rules are universal and well-known across the world, and language isn’t an absolute requirement. This makes it easy for people to get involved.

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Jessica Kellner,
managing partner and Social Innovation expert - Bits of Love

Additionally, sports are a great way for children to learn a lot of different valuable skills: learning how to deal with different kinds of leadership, cooperating in a team, finding your place in a group, figuring out your part in a greater whole, taking your own responsibilities, and many more. We’re happy to do our part.

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To learn more about what makes Multifoot special and why this partnership makes sense for us, we interviewed Kenny and Dimi about their approach to coaching and their organisation:

How did you end up in the world of football?

Kenny has been playing football since he was 4 years old. He’s currently in his 21st season as a youth trainer, and in his 12th year as a first team coach.

Dimi played football from the age of 5 until 29 and has been a youth coach since, counting in at 13 years so far. 

What do you enjoy the most about football?

As the trainer for a first team, Kenny is most excited by the Sunday matches. You’re playing for the leaderboard, you’re playing for money. It’s the positive stress of the build-up to a match and really going for the win. 

Dimi trains youth players from the ages of 13 to 18, as well as coaching 9 to 11-year-olds separately at Club Brugge. The primary drive is to make people better. Educating young players who could become excellent footballers over the years and eventually even make their way to a first team is the main thrill.

What’s the story behind Multifoot?

We started out in December of 2017 as four colleagues whose aims are to offer and manage high-quality internships and theme days. We hope not to be perceived as a daycare centre. As the entire Multifoot team possesses pedagogical diplomas as well as meaningful experience in the football world, I believe we have everything we need to offer something of quality. That was our absolute priority. 

We’ve said from day one that we want something unique: Multifoot is a football camp that is always in combination with omnisports. Many football camps will exclusively play football for an entire week straight, whereas we can choose between tennis or many other kinds of sports and physical activities in the afternoon. We offer adventure days where we play paintball and jump square, for example, so it was very important for us to separate ourselves a bit from the typical football camps’. 

We also still do everything ourselves. Both the football training sessions and the adventure days are given by us. We have the luxury that we’re all certified trainers and PE teachers, so we have the necessary pedagogical abilities to provide good guidance.”

What’s your primary source of motivation when organising the camp?

We really aim to offer quality for our players. The unique concept of the football & omnisport blend and the luxury of working with qualified trainers and teachers with strong pedagogical abilities means we’re able to put together an excellent package.”

What’s the most important aspect in a team sport?

According to Kenny: The willingness to cooperate, the click outside of the field, and an overall sense of respect on and off the field, though I might first be thinking about this from the perspective of performance in a first team.”

For Dimi, it’s making sure the sport remains fun. We put a lot of effort into the fun aspect for the youth. If that’s missing, it gets harder to process new information. We always try to offer exercises that make things more fun. If the players are enjoying themselves, they’ll pick things up faster, or at least that’s the intention.”

What are your ambitions with Multifoot?

Ideally, we wouldn’t want to get too big because we would like to continue ensuring high quality leadership by providing the training ourselves. This also applies because we’re all still active in education and as trainers outside of Multifoot. As this is our third ongoing football project, our intention is not to turn it into a large-scale non-profit or to attract as many attendees as possible. 

We have agreements within our team that we don’t intend to fully book every holiday by organising a sports camp every week, for example. We could expand by offering an extra week here and there, but that’s not where our ambition lies for the time being. Above all, we aim to offer a qualitative experience. 

If you were to ask what is the ambition?”, I would like for people to know our name precisely because we can offer that quality. Not just because we’re a football camp, but because they know that there’s a high level of training. When people talk about us, I would like for it to be Oh, that’s a great camp. It’s well organised, they have good trainers with experience in strong teams, …” .

So qualitative training is the focus, not mass. We work with groups of 12 of 13 players and no more. There are camps who do the same with up to 18 players sometimes, and that just cannot be maintained properly. We look at the level of each player and determine who would fit best in which group, so that every child – boy or girl (and that’s also very important: girls are certainly welcome and we see the numbers increasing every year) – is able to have fun at their level and get better.”

How did you come into contact with Bits of Love?

Dimi first met managing director Andries because both of their sons play football together. Andries’ son signed up for last year’s Easter edition of Multifoot and really enjoyed the experience, hence the link.

What does this sponsorship mean for your operations?

In a very direct sense, it means more registrations, being able to help underprivileged young people, and increased operational resources. Ultimately, this means that a major player in the digital product field is willing to work with us on this project while they also have well-known and meaningful partners such as Studio 100 and Club Brugge, so it’s nice for us to be able to make that connection with a strong digital player.

On the other hand, it’s also nice for Bits of Love to collaborate on a social project like this and partner with a (hopefully) respectable organisation. It’s certainly excellent publicity for us to be able to link ourselves with a strong digital player.”

Is there sufficient support for youngsters with different backgrounds in football? How do you foster and promote inclusivity?

At a higher level, definitely. At lower levels, it’s more difficult. 

When we talk about our personal approaches to teaching and how we personally provide training, we are of course used to diversity thanks to our experience as teachers and our professional football careers. But in terms of offering direct support in terms of financial matters or to combat exclusion by giving underprivileged young people a chance, this partnership with Bits of Love is the first time that we’re able to contribute directly and we support it 200 percent. 

It is not currently our intention to shift towards accommodating a camp of entirely underprivileged young people. It’s possible, but it would require a different approach and different formulas to remain sustainable. We’ve seen and are aware of the harrowing things and stories that some young people go through, how they have a super hard time and don’t get opportunities at home at no fault of their own. We think this is a fantastic initiative and a unique opportunity to give those children what could be the week of their lives so far, because they otherwise might never get that chance. We do think there is still a lot of work to be done, in football and in general, to further promote accessibility and inclusion on a wider scale.”

We’re aware of the problems. Camps are expensive. Children end up being the victims of an unfortunate situation where they never get that joyful holiday feeling.”

Jessica Kellner,
Managing Partner

What are you looking forward to the most in this Easter edition?

As we’re nearly fully booked, we’re mostly looking forward to offering fantastic internships, a great atmosphere, and a lot of enthusiasm. With a full house, you’re able to offer a much more well-rounded experience. We now have five different groups to work with, varying widely in age from U6 to U14. The numbers seem to only be growing more and more each year, which is great to see!”

What are your plans for future editions?

One thing we’re very excited about is to keep innovating in terms of coming up with new formulas. We started out with football + omnisport”, offering a mix of basketball- self-defence, athletics, handball, volleyball, badminton, tennis, frisbee, … . We then added the combination of football with tennis, where we have a specialised tennis trainer join the team in the afternoon.

Over the years, our offerings have expanded to include more alternative sports such as paintball, archery tags, adventure days, and jump square. We also started a series of lessons on Wednesday afternoons in May & June, so we’re always looking for new opportunities and formulas to combine with football. Water sports or mountain biking are ones we haven’t done before, for example. However, the intention is to always keep football at the centre of attention: our camp offers football with omnisport. We play football every morning, that won’t change, but we combine it with plenty of other sports and physical activities, giving you a very wide range of non-traditional’ sports like paintball on top of the classic (team) ball sports.

We’ve really noticed the positive effect this can have. In many other football camps, you could often find yourself in a situation where kids end up getting a little tired of the sport by the end of the week. It’s nice for them to be able to familiarise themselves with another sport and get a taste of something different.”

Everyone’s a winner.

Values such as accessibility and inclusion are at the heart of our digital product studio, as we always aim to design user and people-friendly experiences in every project.

We believe that sports harness the power to deconstruct socioeconomic status and background. By enabling people who could use the support, you open up the playing field to more diverse opportunities. 

Thinking of a project?

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