How Futbol Mas is adapting to the pandemic
Every year, we mark World Refugee Day on 20th June. It is a day to celebrate the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee and is an occasion to build empathy and an understanding of their plight and resilience. In these times, displaced populations are especially at risk. Sport has been known to play a positive role in the lives of displaced populations, and these organisations have been a crucial part of this movement around sport and refugees. This year, we want to recognise the efforts of organisations working with refugees, as well as highlighting how the pandemic has affected lives of displaced people.
To mark World Refugee Day this year, sportanddev reached out to organisations across the globe who are working with and for refugees. These organisations operate in different regions across Africa, South America and Europe. This article on Futbol Mas’ work is part of the series of articles sharing the stories of these organisations and how they have been affected.
Futbol Mas focuses on working with children and young people through sport for development - “We seek to develop different skills and values in the beneficiaries through resilience, and we always focus on highlighting the positive aspects of the children and young people.” To reach this goal, their main element is the ‘green card’, which is “used to demonstrate and highlight the positive elements that occur during their sessions, and thus use sport as a positive element.” Their work focuses mainly on neighbourhoods, schools, residences, refugee centres and the development of professionals in this methodology.
What work do they do with refugees?
The work of Futbol Mas spans three different continents, in the specific case of programs with migrants and refugees in the beneficiaries are the children, teenagers and families seeking asylum or who are in periods of transition from one country to another. In these interventions, they also promote interculturality and integration into the local context. As they state, “Our main objective in this kind of intervention is to re-establish and protect the rights of infringed children from a resilience model applied to play and sports in contexts of humanitarian crisis.”
How has the pandemic affected their work?
The COVID-19 pandemic presented them with several challenges as they work mainly in the field, in direct contact with children and young people. In response to how they have had to adapt to this new context, they stated, “we have created a series of digital content, which reaches our communities through different ways, mainly through social networks, which allows us to impact way beyond our areas of intervention. This content was developed together with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in different countries, with the name ‘Mi Casa Mi Cancha’, which has as main objective to promote a healthy daily routine for children between 6 and 12 years old, to increase the protective factors in context of isolation.”
As we discuss how the world will look in light of the pandemic, it is important to look at how sport can contribute to this future. For Futbol Mas, the work with refugees focuses on making children and young people feel part of the communities in which they find themselves, as well as dealing with the traumatic shock of migration. In this context, “it is likely that isolation will be greater in refugee cases, which could lead to higher levels of stress and family and child violence. Thus, our work with parents and staff working in refugee centres is essential to better cope with this situation.”
What does World Refugee Day mean to them?
For them, World Refugee Day is about raising awareness and sensitizing people who have to leave their countries for different reasons - “This day is very relevant because we work with them in different contexts and we believe that every child and young person has the right to play and recreation, and to a safe space in which they can dream and develop.” Furthermore, “this day invites us as individuals to make these situations visible, as well as to understand the responsibility that we all have to other people, that we should all have the same rights.”