Together with the local foundation Juvente Mainz and the amateur team FC Ente Bagdad, the top tier club is setting a series of training sessions, where refugees and local can play together, grating young immigrants access to play in football and actively participate in society.
The programme also includes holiday and city tours and cultural events. In addition, the Bundesliga club will donate jerseys for all the youth and senior teams participating in the programme, engage their youth squads, and systematically invite refugees communities to attend their matches.
Roland Uhlich, FC Ente Bagdad spokesperson said: “We have been engaged in migrant affairs for over 40 years.
“We feel that with the current situation we are touching a nerve. The request for support is enormous and we want to encourage other grassroots teams in Mainz to open their doors to refugees and welcome them.
“We can build a second home through football for people who have lost theirs.”
‘Inclusion of refugees one of the most important tasks’
In March 2015, DFB made available 1.2 million euros to support inclusion projects for refugees living in Germany. The campaign, which promptly spread across the country, wants to draw attention to integration and support people in need, a problem that the DFB consider as “one of the most important tasks in Germany at the moment”.
In a similar move, the Bundesliga-Foundation and the professional club Schalke 04 have also carried out initiatives fostering a more plural and diverse society. The latter has donated 100 tickets and organised a stadium tour for refugees for the friendly match against Twente Enschede. The initiative also counted with the support of a group Gelsenkirchen ultras.
As the number of asylum applications and refugees in Germany increases, the country has been facing a rise in xenophobic attacks targeting refugees and immigrants.
Media reports suggest the number of arson incidents or similar attacks reached 150 in the first six months of 2015 and several shelters for asylum seekers have been destroyed and damaged by local protesters.
To counter this during the 2014/15, Bundesliga giant Borussia Dortmund also carried out several initiatives to promote the inclusion of refugee groups, inviting them to attend matches and by donating goods.
Several fan initiatives took on stadiums with colourful displays and banners reading ‘Welcome refugees’.
Furthering inclusion through grassroots movements
Since the start of the DFB refugee inclusion campaign over 500 grassroots clubs have applied for funding hoping to cascade a wave of support to refugees and asylum seekers through the practice of football.
Among these is SG Bostalsee, who are currently offering language and cooking lessons for Syrian war refugees living in the city, facilitating relationships with the local authorities and setting up internships, in addition to the sporting activities.
Stefan Kunz, the club’s chairman said: “Your home is where you feel accepted. This is possible here.
“Of course it is demanding but as soon as you have seen the refugee’s gratitude, you feel that you are capable of helping a person and you immediately want to help again.”
Several other grassroots clubs, including such as SV Blau-Weiß Concordia Viersen, VfB Korschenbroich, SV Rot-Weiß Scheeßel and Teutonia Kleinenbroich, have lend their support to local refugees and charity projects.