Football, Colonialism, and Migration

Dec 18, 2021

EDU Resources

Explore the history of relations between Europe and Africa with the case of Congo and Football

How did football evolve over time in both the Congo and Belgium? How has football (environments) been used beyond playing a sport?

This is a learning activity to help students explore these topics.

In this article:


Soldiers in Congo in uniform, approx 1910-1925 (Source: Collectie Stichting Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen).

Soldiers in Congo in uniform, approx 1910-1925 (Source: Collectie Stichting Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen).

A support to your own lesson on colonialism

Have you planned a (series of) lesson(s) about European colonialism in Africa and about European-African relations? Are you looking for new, inclusive, and representative sources to talk about this complex topic? Would you like to tackle it from a new perspective? Then, check out our brand new collection of resources on the relationship between Congo and Belgium from the establishment of the Congo Free State (1885) until Congolese Independence (1960)!

This collection of resources combines engaging visual sources, including photos, postcards, artifacts, and maps, with an historical overview of the relations between Belgium and Congo (and Europeans and African people more in general) over the 1800s and 1900s. Designed by Chris Heim, a member of the Football Makes History Team, to support the learning of students aged 14-18, the sources presented can be used to teach about race, ethnicity and (de)colonization, culture and sport.

A deliberate selection of sources

The colonial powers, as well as the colonised people, have produced a wealth of sources that can now be used to teach about colonialism from a variety of perspectives. In this collection, we present sources and narratives that highlight specific moments of the past that can help our students discuss migration and injustice.

In 1830 Belgium became independent after an opera performance; in 1959 Congo demanded independence after a football match… football is gunpowder – David Van Reybrouck.

Football is used as a tool to make the connection between migration and society, and the topic of migration, more accessible to students. In addition, the sources presented represent the voices of individuals with different social and ethnic backgrounds, so that students learn how to approach different sources.

For each of the sources, Chris has also identified key questions that students, in groups or with the teacher as an introduction activity, can answer to deepen their understanding of the history of European-African relations.

Get the resource

EuroClio is currently updating the eLearning Platform Historiana to host documents such as this collection of resources. Until then, you can find this collection of resources on the EuroClio website.

If you would like to see more activities about football, colonialism, and migration, check out also our lesson plans on “French colonialism and National Identity through Football” and “Understanding the History of Migration through the Lens of Football”.

Article Tags:   19th century  |   Empire  |   migration  |   teaching  |   world history

RELATED STORIES  You may also be interested in

Seen from the Valley

Football in India arose from the presence of British troops, but the game that could unite, was later eclipsed by cricket. A local story from India.


Latest Educational Resouces

We. We are the best

We. We are the best

Helping students define nationalism by looking at photos of football matches and reflecting on the main expressions of it in the stadiums.

Equal Pay for Equal Play

Equal Pay for Equal Play

How is the gender pay gap reflected in women’s football and what can be done to change it? How do we help students reflect on this?

LATEST POST  You may also be interested in

Formation for Human Rights

Formation for Human Rights

A class of high school history students in Oslo was asked to create an ideal starting XI line-up based on Human Rights. Find out why and how it went.

Share This