The aim of the sessions between the 16 and 23 September was to inspire the next generation, by using video materials that will form part of an exhibition to be available online and in public spaces across Madrid as part of the #FootballPeople weeks.
Dolores Galindo, the founder of Dragones de Lavapiés, wrote about these activities in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We invited male and female sport activists to share their experiences with our players and displayed powerful footage and imagery that would resonate with them.
We showed the picture of Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists and making the ‘black power’ salute on the podium of the 1968 Summer Olympics, on screens at the Dragones de Lavapiés urban court in Madrid.
Some of our under-12 players also watched the video of that historic 200-metre race that lasted 19.83 seconds, under the watchful eye of Yeison García López.
Yeison is one of the up and coming young black leaders in Spain. He was born in Colombia, raised in Madrid, and is an activist against racism. He delivered a thought-provoking speech.
“You can all remember the image of Real Madrid player Marcelo kneeling on the football pitch earlier this year. This is a legacy, and represents a commitment to the fight against racism,” he explained.
Yeison referred back to the events of 1968, at a time when the assassination of Martin Luther King was still recent and the world was shocked by that black power salute at the Olympics.
The young Dragones footballers wanted to share their own stories about racism on the field, Yeison added, “Before fighting back you always should think first. I discovered that the best way to face insults is to be proud of yourself. No one can be superior to you if you have confidence in yourself.
Black feminist Arita Mitten was among many other speakers at the workshops giving messages of hope and solidarity to the children. ‘Listening to the stories of black women athletes who made a difference is a way to tell girls that they can achieve their goals, even when they are told otherwise,’ she said.
‘As difficult as it was for Brazilian footballer Formiga, gymnast Simone Biles, tennis player Serena Williams and pioneer athletes like Alice Coachman and Wilma Rudolph, they were able to fight race and gender discrimination to conquer their dreams.’
As well as empowering our players by highlighting the success of black athletes, we also wanted to show how these individuals have used their enhanced status to make a big difference to their respective communities.
One of our coaches, Babou Jallow, spoke about the inspiration which Sadio Mané provides to everyone at the club, with many children wearing the Senegal national team shirt with Mané’s name on their back.
Like Mane, Babou comes from a very religious family who didn’t want him to play football. Though their life paths and football careers have taken very different turns, Babou risked his life on a boat to come to Europe and wait years to be granted legal status in Spain.
He shared the idea of giving back to the community, like Mané or Keita Baldé, the Monaco player who provided lodgings for African seasonal workers after they were trapped in Catalonia due to the Coronavirus pandemic this summer.
Babou, along with eight other men, created a school and a football club in their home village back in Senegal, called, Dragones of Keur Babou Ndiity.
It was an inspiring week for our young people. We hope the stories we told and the images we used can all help to raise awareness of how the efforts and sacrifices of black sportsmen and sportswomen have aided social justice across the world.”