Personal development as an objective of “Welcome through Football”

2 August 2019

Personal development as an objective of “Welcome through Football”

Last Wednesday, EFDN visited member club KAA Gent to get an insight into the ongoing “Welcome through Football project” in the Belgian city. At the same time, the employees of EFDN and the club representatives discussed opportunities for further cooperation in the future. 

KAA Gent is together with EFDN members Werder Bremen, Apollon Limassol, FC Emmen and Everton FC part of the Welcome through Football project. It is a 12 months project with the purpose of sharing expertise, experiences and best practices of community programmes that focus on young refugees. KAA Gent Foundation organises the football sessions with children and youth from age 7 to 15 in the neighborhood ‘New Ghent-Steenakker’. Most people in that area live in social housing. Unfortunately, many inhabitants are suffering from unemployment, discrimination, drug addiction or social exclusion. The “Welcome through Football” project is one of the initiatives that strive to tackle these issues by using the power of football and the expertise of KAA Gent.

After discussing the monitoring and evaluation and the financing of the project, EFDN and KAA Gent representatives went to visit sessions of the “Welcome through Football” project right next to the community center “Bij Pino”. Although there are schools holidays in Belgium, a lot of children used the opportunity to come together on the pitch and played football. The community coaches of KAA Gent were fully involved in the sessions. The coaches also took the time to talk to children and parents that watched the other kids playing. At the end of the session, children and coaches came together, to discuss some situations and to chat with each other.

The community appreciates the engagement

“For the kids it’s just playing, for us its personal development. We also believe in co-creation and work together with Campus Atelier”, said Pierre Van der Veken, who is responsible for the social inclusion programmes, and explained how the project participants have built their own goals and even small stands next to the pitch. Van der Veken added: “This is a dangerous time now as the grassroots clubs are currently not offering football training due to the holidays. But we have decided to go on and we are surprised by the good level of participation. The community really appreciates it and is giving a lot back to us. They are happy that we do not give up.” KAA Gent Foundation delivers currently several children and social inclusion programmes and has also a homeless team. An important aspect of all community programmes is also the promotion of healthy eating habits. At the end of each session, participants get free food and water and can talk to the community coaches. Read more about the KAA Foundation on its member page or in the latest annual report.


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