Since 2013 a team of staff and volunteers from House of Opportunity & FSCI have delivered a football-based project in Boychinovtsi Youth Prison, Bulgaria. Through sport, personal contact and group sessions our team trys to show the young inmates that there are alternatives to a life of crime. This venture builds upon a relationship, first established during visits by our team in 2011, through which we aim to make a really positive impact upon the lives of the young offenders.
The young offenders (15-21) are overwhelmingly from Roma communities. Roma are the most marginalised group of people in Europe. At Boychinovtsi they make up more than 90 percent of the inmates, compared to 10 percent of the wider population in Bulgaria. With access to education, health and employment all very limited, many Roma turn to crime – with many drawn in from a very young age. So begins a cycle of crime and imprisonment that, for far too many, lasts a lifetime.