Four badges.
Four badges.

Identity through a badge

Introducing historical themes through football badges

Like a company logo, a football badge is the public face of any major European football club. Color schemes and symbolism such as FC Barcelona’s blue and purple or the Chelsea lion make the clubs immediately recognizable and provide inspiration for countless football fan tattoos.

Thanks to Norwegian history teacher and avid football fan Geir Ove Halvorsen, these badges now provide inspiration for history education as well. He devised the learning activity ‘Identity Through a Badge’, which stimulates students to analyze football badges as primary sources and trace their historical origins.

After the lesson, students should be able to understand the connection between modern day football clubs and broader historical developments, know how to approach primary source material and develop their discussion and presentation skills.

Maker of this approach Geir Ove Halvorsen:

The reactions I received from my students after using football as an example in my history class were positive. Both those students who were interested in football and those who were not into football said that they had learned something from the lessons!

Geir Ove Halvorsen

Adapt ‘Identity Through a Badge’ to suit your needs

The activity works best as an introduction at the start of a new year, block, or theme. In groups of four or five each, students receive a poster with a unique football badge and accompanying research questions. Through group discussions, the students determine what the badge is about, how the badge reflects the club’s identity, and present their analysis to the rest of the class. You can easily adapt the activity to your curriculum by altering the badges: the she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus on AS Roma’s badge is a perfect introduction to ancient Rome, while the double headed eagle on AEK Athens’ badge refers to its origins in Greek Constantinople, an ideal segway into a discussion on identity and migration or the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. Of course, you could also use different sources entirely, such as football shirts, flags, etc. Originally intended for students anywhere between 13 and 19 years old, the activity can easily become more and less advanced by varying in sources and questions.

Gaining knowledge, acquiring skills, and working towards inclusion

Are you looking for a fun, original, and visually stimulating way to start a new term? By using the learning activity ‘Identity Through a Badge’ you will be sure to engage your students in one of the many historical themes reflected in modern football badges. Moreover, students will learn the historical significance of football, learn how football can communicate group identities, and develop key historical research skills on the way. And of course, using football as a new perspective will include students who would normally rather be outside chasing a ball.

Get the resource

The learning activity ‘Identity Through a Badge’ is available through Historiana. Make sure to also check out Geir Ove Halvorsen’s other learning activity on local football history on Historiana and the accompanying article we published on this website.

Are you interested in Spanish football badges in particular? Check out ‘Nationalism in Spanish Football’ on Historiana. Read all about Geir Ove Halvorsen’s passion for sports and history in an interview we did in the summer of 2020.

Read more on Historiana website

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