Football contributes to the integration of refugees across Europe

12 January 2017

Football contributes to the integration of refugees across Europe

In the past years, the integration of refugees has become one of the most pressing tasks, which the European countries face. Some of the problems, which the people who are escaping war face are the long-term integration in society, language barriers and the re-settlement of individuals and families.

By now, many initiatives on all levels have been created to tackle the growing issue. Major efforts have also been taken by a number of football clubs, football organisations and football initiatives since football has shown to possess the capacity to help people integrate into society. Case studies and reports show that refugees have increasingly become involved in grassroots football clubs throughout Europe. A great number of activists and volunteers contributed to realising those football intervention programmes.

Also a number of EFDN members, as Club Brugge, PSV Eindhoven, Bayern 04 Leverkusen and Werder Bremen have shown their belief in football as a tool for integration by implementing diverse programmes.

Initiatives from clubs

In autumn 2016, Bayern 04 Leverkusen and FC Basel launched the first project of the Football Club Social Alliance for refugees. In a six-day project, 39 Syrian women and men from the Azraq refugee camp in Jordan became football coaches with special competences. The men and women received training from two trainers from Bayern 04 Leverkusen.

Club Brugge is also actively engaged in integrating refugees. The club has opened its solidarity team to refugees. This means for participants that they receive training materials, meals and assistance in the job and housing search.

Werder Bremen provides children and young adults with the opportunity to attend football practices in four different city districts. The club regards the training as a valuable opportunity to socially integrate the refugees. Next to football practices, Werder Bremen aims at integrating the refugees through offering excursions and moviemaking courses.

As well PSV Eindhoven believes that football has the ability to integrate refugees into society. Therefore, the club collaborates with a local asylum seeker centre. Together, they provide weekly football training for adult refugees. Playing football shall keep the adults physically active and offer the possibility to find a carefree leisure activity.

Overall, the opinion that football can be helpful in addressing some of the challenges, which the newly arriving refugees face, is shared by many football clubs, football organisations and football initiatives. For that reason, the number of projects, which contributed to a safe integration of individuals in society has been rising.

This article is based on an article published on the website fare.org.

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