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How do we promote the inclusion of migrants through sports?
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On the occasion of International Migrants Day, the Sport and Citizenship Think Tank, alongside the Fedasil Reception Centre in Mouscron (Belgium), organized a day of awareness, exchanges, and debates about sports as a tool for the social inclusion of exiled individuals.

The day commenced with a football tournament, involving players seeking asylum or refugees competing against various members of the local community. It concluded with a roundtable discussion on social integration through sports, especially within soccer. Three crucial points emerged from this dialogue.

Limited European regulations governing sports

The integration of immigrants, asylum seekers, or refugees poses a significant challenge for the European Union, often a topic of division. National approaches in this area can greatly differ. Sports, therefore, provide an advantageous platform for fostering social bonds, facilitating encounters between newcomers and host inhabitants. Nonetheless, the European Union's progress on this matter remains stagnant, with minimal legislative tools to steer policies in this direction. Hence, local levels and their grassroots stakeholders appear better equipped to address this need, currently serving as the primary channel for developing actions within the EU zone to promote migrant inclusion.

Football clubs as a springboard

Football stands as one of the world's most widely practiced and accessible sports. It presents itself as an intriguing avenue for inclusion. Not only does it offer a space for sharing and social cohesion for those often deprived of access to sports or culture, but it also serves individuals whose future prospects hinge on asylum requests that endure over extended periods. The Red Cross in Manhay (Luxembourg province) initiated football sessions to encourage interaction between locals and migrants residing in the village (with a capacity for 180 residents at the Red Cross center). This initiative not only enables people to share sporting activities but also aims to dismantle prevailing stereotypes. Moreover, it has fostered connections with the town's club, now accommodating approximately ten participants within the village club!

Go further

Merely engaging in sports cannot resolve everything. In fact, involvement in sports can sometimes reintroduce individuals in fragile situations to failure. Joining a traditional football or sports team with all its demands can be challenging. To offer an alternative avenue for success to these displaced individuals, United Belgium organizes tournaments that bring together social organizations, communities, and football clubs. In Belgium, 48 teams train weekly for a tournament held every two months. This ensures safe practice and creates new opportunities.

Authors

French-speaking consultant
sportanddev

Tags

Country
Belgium
Region
Europe
Sport
Football (Soccer)
Sustainable Development Goals
17 - Partnership for the goals
Target Group
Displaced people

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