How is sport facilitating the integration of refugees across Europe?
Dribbling past the hurdles of integration: how is sport facilitating the integration of refugees across Europe?
Participants discussed how sport can contribute to successfully integrating migrants into their new communities. Among the key points discussed were:
There is a need to change the approach to integration. We should stop thinking of it as a problem and make the narrative positive. The focus on the local level is essential as it allows to create links with other policies, such as health, employment or education.
Need to know the “landscape” of the community you operate in, to create networks and build a solid structure that can be of help to migrants and refugees not only when it comes to practicing sport, but also in providing support for other issues they encounter, such as housing, language, schooling, insurance etc. It is essential to create networks and exchange good practices.
Communication and trust are key elements, integration should be a participative process that involves and listens to the needs/desires of migrants and refugees, without imposing activities on them but asking them what they would like to do and building from there.
The support of the local community is essential and it can be difficult to reach. A possible approach would be to reach out to the community and explain any project before the project starts and in detail. Explain who the people involved will be, through which activities, on which budget and make them feel included in the decision-making.
Most successful projects involve refugees and migrants at all stages of planning and implementation not only as addressees of the action but also as volunteers, coaches, people working in the administration etc.
Laurent THIEULE, President, Kraainem Royal Football Club, Kraainem (Belgium) and Director in the European Committee of the Regions
Volker REHM, Programme Coordinator “Sport and Refugees”, Hessen (Germany)
Carine NKOUE, Project Coordinator, UEFA Foundation for Children (Switzerland)
Piara POWAR, President, FARE Network (UK)
Jord VANDENHOUDT, Policy Officer Sport, Flanders Sports Agency (Belgium)