22 May 2006
A group of young people from across England are gearing up to travel to Germany as part of an international bid to promote peace at the World Cup.
Young volunteers from crime reduction charity Nacro's community sports projects will represent England in an international delegation of youth organizations working towards a peaceful tournament.
The "Ballance 2006" project will aim to promote tolerance, fairplay and integration through grassroots community football in Germany and will bring together more than 150 volunteers from partner organizations in Poland, Italy, Norway, France and Germany.
Nacro's volunteers, who act as mentors for young people on Nacro's sports projects across the UK, will take part in a cultural celebration event in Wiesbaden, near Frankfurt, on 11 June.
The event will focus on stamping out racism in football and promoting fair play and will be attended by former international footballers and Ballance 2006 supporters, Patrick Battiston and Jürgen Grabowski.
Everyone involved in Ballance 2006 across Europe will also attend the England versus Paraguay game on June 10 as a build-up to the event in Wiesbaden.
Ian Hands, national football partnerships manager for Nacro, said: "Ballance 2006 provides a fantastic opportunity for Nacro volunteers to take part in a cultural exchange with other young people from all over the world and unite against violence, racism and intolerance in the game.
"Nacro works with more than 15,000 young people a year, using sport as a tool to educate, engage and eradicate social exclusion. It's a great way of keeping young people out of trouble and giving them a stake in their local community.
"Ballance 2006 is an extension of this work, giving these volunteers a chance to get involved in an international community and tackling issues that can often give the game a bad name.
"For some of these young people it will be their first time away from home and their first World Cup. They're really excited about meeting the other young people and, of course, the prospect of seeing England play in the World Cup 2006."
Ballance 2006 is a networking and training project based in Hessen, Germany. The project was officially launched in May 2002 and promotes integration and tolerance through football with special focus on a peaceful World Cup in Germany.
Nacro runs more than 50 youth projects in England and Wales, working with more than 15,000 young people and 500 volunteers each year. The projects focus on those who may have been victims of crime and may be at risk of getting involved in anti-social behaviour or offending.