The international conference on refugees in football brought together policy makers, NGOs, grassroots groups, refugees and sports providers, with a special focus on female refugees. A full day of discussions and workshops took place aimed at setting out a European-wide approach for host communities to successfully engage and integrate refugees through sport.
The INSPIRE project – Integration through Sport and Inclusion for Refugees in Europe – is a project that has been developed and initiated by Fare and funded by the European Commission. The focus of the 12-month project has been on identifying the needs of refugees and barriers to participation in local sport and promoting a transferable methodology based on the findings.
This has also led to a toolkit being developed together with project partners Les Dégommeuses and Fundacja dla Wolnošci, featuring training modules, best practice examples, and recommendations to sports organisations and practitioners.
Words into action
Topics covered at the conference in Warsaw included the measures that can be taken at local and international level to drive meaningful social change to improve the lives of refugees through sport.
The importance of working with refugees and the need to address women refugees in particular was stressed, and a major focus of the conference was on what makes participation in local sport difficult for refugees – and how these difficulties can be challenged and overcome.
Delegates from UEFA, the UNHCR, the Polish FA and the European Commission were all present in Warsaw alongside activists, grassroots groups, FAs and other policy makers. An opening address was given by Bogdan Wenta, Polish politician and Member of the EU Parliament.
The findings of the INSPIRE toolkit were also presented by Fare in Warsaw, and will be made available publicly on farenet.org.