Following Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Europe is facing the largest movement of refugees since the Second World War. Solidarity with and inclusion of refugees is once again under scrutiny. Our EU project Sport Inclusion for Refugees across Europe (SPIN Refugees), which has entered its third and final year in 2022, is therefore more relevant than ever. Currently, in addition to the integration of people from Ukraine, the project focuses on promoting the qualification of refugees in sport.
Since 2020, fairplay has been coordinating the SPIN Refugees project together with partners from eight European countries. Its aim is to improve the social inclusion and participation of asylum seekers and refugees at local level through training, education and capacity building of stakeholders in grassroots sports.
Currently, we are launching the next initiative of the project and look back at the meeting of the international platform Integration of Refugees Through Sport focusing on Ukraine.
Supporting Refugees to Gain Professional Qualifications in Sport
Currently, people with refugee experience are still largely underrepresented in organised sport. They often lack the financial means to obtain the necessary qualifications. In the next step of the project, people with refugee experience who live in one of the project countries (Austria, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Hungary) can apply for one-time funding of up to 500 euros. Funding is provided for training and courses that qualify participants for further careers in sport, for example as coaches, referees or sports managers.
In order to ensure gender-equitable participation, we are particularly addressing women refugees and asylum seekers and inviting them to apply. Submissions are initially possible until 23 May, 2022. Details on this initiative and the opportunity to apply will soon be available on the project website.
Networking Meeting of the Platform Integration of Refugees Through Sport
The escalation of the war in Ukraine has forced more than 12 million people to flee their homes in search of safety, protection and assistance. More than 4 million are now in neighboring countries and many more are on the move inside and outside the country.
To mark the war in Ukraine, an online partner meeting of the Integration of Refugees Through Sport (IRTS) platform was held on 7 April. This internationally unique network was initiated by the International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA), based in Denmark, and consists of over 80 partner stakeholders from sport and humanitarian work.
The meeting was about understanding how and where IRTS partners and stakeholders can help and support in the current situation. Fairplay was represented at the meeting by Kurt Wachter as coordinator of SPIN Refugees and Stefan Belabed.
Jakub Kalinowski from the Polish organisation V4Spport from Wroclaw reported that their organisation has set up logistics on the border with Ukraine so that urgently needed goods such as medicine, first aid equipment but also radios and bullet-proof waistcoats can be brought into the country. On the other hand, the organisation evacuates families from the affected towns and brings them to Poland and other EU countries. Jakub Kalinowski appealed to the 30 participants of the meeting: “We must not allow ourselves to get used to this war, let’s continue to support the people in Ukraine!”.
György Molnar from the Oltalom Sport Association (OSA) reported on their work with refugee children in Budapest. Most of the refugees are members of the Hungarian minority or Hungarian-speaking Roma from Ukraine. In contrast to the official Hungarian policy, the people in Hungary give the refugees a friendly welcome and show solidarity.
Rolf Schwery from the organisation SchweryCade informed about the situation in Switzerland. A curriculum is currently being developed to help trainers and coaches as well as officials of sports clubs to deal adequately with refugees from Ukraine and elsewhere. The Swiss Football Association is also involved here. In addition, the existing internet platform #Sport4Refugees (http://sport4refugees.net/) will be utilized to connect people who are in need and have fled to Switzerland through no fault of their own with Swiss sports clubs.
Daniel Conti from SPIN’s Italian partner organisation Unione Italiana Sport per Tutti (UISP) reports on their latest initiative to support refugees from Ukraine. On 3 April, UISP organised a Vivicittà sports event in Suceava, a Romanian city 40 km from the border with Ukraine. It is a race for peace, as it has been done before in Lebanon or in Sarajevo. On the ground, UISP cooperated with Sport for All Suceava, a Uisp partner at the international level, and with Save the Children, and aid and medicines were also provided. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5rhyJJjj4s
The IRTS platform will continue to be used to support organisations in the EU and especially in Eastern Europe in integrating refugees through sport. Information about the IRTS platform and its members can be found here: https://irts.isca.org/
All information about the SPIN Refugees project can be found here!