GAME strives for a world with equal opportunities for all children and youth. To achieve this vision, GAME’s mission is to create lasting social change through youth-led street sports and culture. The nonprofit’s programs seek to integrate vulnerable ethnic-minority youth (refugees, immigrants, etc.) into the community and offers the opportunity for them to grow as peer-educators and drivers of social change in a local setting.
The activities are targeted young people in less-advantaged neighborhoods in 10 countries in Europe, The Middle East, and Africa and span across ethnic, religious, and social divides. In 2019 GAME had more than 381,952 visits at its practices, tournaments, workshops, and open gyms in 75 neighborhoods across EMEA (+19% compared to 2018). The engagement of a record high number of volunteer role models (990) has allowed for an impact increase. The numbers for 2020 are not finalized yet, but a drop due to Covid-19 of at least 25% on KPIs are expected.
During 2020, GAME shifted to online training of volunteers and developed a risk matrix, which allowed local staff to navigate the impact of Covid-19 and ensure safe operations. To keep the children and youth active, some of the creative new initiatives included splitting up the GAME Zones and sending out GAME kits with balls and cones to allow for groups of maximum 10 participants to play together. Online practice sessions and videos using the hashtag GAMExHOME was also used to keep everyone physically active during lock-down.
Over the last five years, GAME has successfully scaled the impact by providing micro grants worth 2 mill. USD to more than 500 youth-led street sports projects. In 2021 this method will be exported to Lebanon, where the EU as a trusted donor has asked GAME to implement the Street Sports Incubator.
An acute need for social change in urban areas due to an increase in urban youth populations and historically high numbers of people on the move has led GAME to refocus its strategy to better address these challenges. At the annual general meeting in 2019, a new strategy with the name “Growing Together” was approved for 2019-2022. The new strategy will allow the organization to scale the impact and improve social cohesion, health and gender equality for underserved urban younger generations (5-25 years old) challenged by marginalization, social economics, and gender & health inequality. By the end of 2020, 78 activities under Growing Together have been completed including a new organizational structure strengthening the cross-cutting functions (e.g. MEL, Innovation).
A set of five Design Principles together with an online Innovation Toolbox have also been developed to ensure that social design and youth-led innovation stays at the forefront. Having an “ear to the asphalt”, “playing with the ideas”, and “taking it to the street” to test the ideas, constitute three of these.
In 2018 the nonprofit opened the doors to its latest two new indoor facilities for street sports – GAME Viborg and GAME Aalborg. Both have come into being through a social design-based approach with the youth playing a central role. After the first year of operations, the 4 mill. USD facilities have each attracted more than 3,500 active members of all ages and GAME Viborg has won several awards including ArchDaily’s “Building of the Year” as well as IAKS Gold – the closest you can get to an Olympic medal in architecture. The latter was awarded for sustainable re-use of abandoned, industrial buildings and the creation of lasting social change through youth-led sports and culture.