The Integration of refugees through Sport in the Belgian Football Club “Kraainem FC” : A “spaghetti Bolognese” between refugees and European Commissioners in the Kraainem FC
Sport has the unique power to transcend the barriers between human beings and unite them in the effort. As such, it is one of the best ways to fight against obscurantism, discrimination and intolerance. It is a universal language with the power to give a man his humanity and his dignity back.
That’s exactly what the Kraainem football club (near Brussels, Belgium) understood. For several months, the club has weekly hosted around twenty Afghan, Syrian, Iraqi or Eritrean refugees and give them the opportunity to play football with the local players. The club also offers them the possibility to follow language courses (French and Dutch) and to enjoy a meal. According to the President of the club,
“Sport has a great power of social integration. This initiative gives these young people the right to look ahead and hope for something other than what they lived before coming here. “, Laurent Thieule, President of the Kraainem Football Club and President of the Think tank Sport and Citizenship
This Wednesday (2/3/16), the bar of the club was transformed into a reception hall for an exciting evening which was attended by numerous Belgian and European political representatives (European Commissioners and MEPs in particular), journalists, sports officials but also and especially the players of the Kraainem football team and their new teammates currently housed at the FEDASIL Center of “Woluwe Saint-Pierre”. After a friendly game between Kraainem players and refugees, everyone joined the bar to share and discuss around a spaghetti Bolognese. Later in the evening, several players and refugees were invited to speak about their history, their experience and their new future. This evening has once again demonstrated the values of solidarity, tolerance and integration that sport embodies.
It is now necessary to extend such initiatives not only to Europe but also to the whole world and not just in the context of the integration of refugees. Indeed, wouldn’t the fight against all forms of racism and discrimination be more efficient if sport had a more central role to play? Wouldn’t the fight against radicalization and extremism weight more if sport was supported further? In the current context, sport seems to be one of the last forces able to restore men’s identity and citizenship.
More information: www.kraainemfootball.be
Adrien Rodrigues, Policy Officer for the Think tank Sport and Citizenshipsportetcitoyennete