The 12-month project began in January 2018 and its focus is aimed at identifying refugees’ needs for and barriers to participation in local sport activities, supporting the provision of sporting activities and providing opportunities for refugees and asylum seekers at grassroots sport level, while developing a transferable methodology based on the findings.
Particular emphasis for the INSPIRE project is being placed on gender balance and increasing levels of participation of female refugees in grassroots.
Project partners Fundacja dla Wolności are a non-profit organisation based in Warsaw, Poland that aims to promote cross-cultural values and empower migrants, refugees in particular. It uses football to seek a common language for different groups.
Since 2010 Fundacja dla Wolności has run Etnoliga – the biggest grassroots cross-cultural amateur football league in Eastern Europe – for hundreds of people from 100+ countries. Their methodology is based on combining sports with cultural and other activities in order to integrate communities across different cultures, backgrounds, ethnicities and gender through sport. The project was shortlisted for the Beyond Sport Global Awards (2017).
The foundation has vast experience in using sport for the wellbeing and integration of refugees. As well as including them in Etnoliga, the organisation has delivered football sessions to children for many years as part of wider education programmes in one of the local centres for asylum seekers. Occasionally, they deliver sessions of other sports to refugees of all ages.
As part of the INSPIRE project, partners Fundacja dla Wolności have been running football sessions for asylum seekers throughout the summer at Podkowa Leśna-Dębak, a centre for foreigners close to Warsaw. The coaching sessions gathered people of different age and genders, both children and adults, from Iraq, Yemen, Bangladesh, China, Armenia and Chechnya.
“It is not not easy to help these people. They are stuck in unfamiliar surroundings, they suffer from trauma and their futures are often uncertain,” said Krzysztof Jarymowicz, local co-ordinator of Fundacja dla Wolności. “Just recently, border guards deported roughly a dozen families in one day.
“Lawyers, psychologists, translators, and social workers are needed more than sport. But football is a perfect distraction – it improves well-being and social life as well.”
“The greatest progress has been made not in football but rather in social skills,” confirms Łukasz Biernacki, the session coach. “The workouts make participants feel self-confident. In particular, it helped girls and more vulnerable members of the community learn their strengths.”
The Fare INSPIRE project has received funding from the European Commission as part of a grant scheme for initiatives using sport for refugee integration and social inclusion.
Further activities will take place including a seminar on October 23rd in Warsaw during the #FootballPeople weeks, further info for which can be found here. Event will also take place during the European Week of Sport and a toolkit will be developed and presented at the project’s final conference in Warsaw in November 2018.
Here, training modules will be shared along with best practice examples and recommendations for sports organisations and practitioners.
Project partners include the Fare members Les Dégommeuses and Fundacja dla Wolności.