FIRE’s national conferences heading to Bucharest

The FIRE project first of four national conferences was kicked off  the 26th of September at Hampden Park stadium in Glasgow, Scotland. The event was an opportunity for all stakeholders present to learn more about our FIRE project and discuss the initiatives taken in Scotland.

The FIRE project (Football Including REfugees) goal is to use football to facilitate and promote social inclusion, but also to allow asylum seekers, migrants and refugees to socialize with locals while sharing moments around something they all have in common. Since football is the most popular sport around the world, it is a the perfect way to spread the positive values of sport we are fighting for at Sport and Citizenship and reach the most people. FIRE’s project objective is to support grassroots football organisations in the development of their inclusion programs towards refugees and foster cross-sector partnerships between all stakeholders by creating a network for mutually enriching participants. At Sport and Citizenship, we are convinced that encouraging cultural openness through grassroots sporting association is a truly efficient way to fight against discrimination and ostracism in European societies. We also believe in the mutual benefits that this program could bring to the migrants, asylum-seekers or refugees and the local grassroots organisation and its volunteers.

The FIRE project will have four national conferences in Scotland, Romania, Belgium and Spain, whose insights will nourish the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), that we are currently building. With the help of our wide range of partners including ESSCA School of Management, Fare Network, LaLiga Foundation, Fundacja Dla Wolnosci, and the Royal Belgian, Scottish and Romanian Football Associations, we will aliment this online tool that will contain valuable information, best practices and modules on how a grassroots football club can implement inclusion programs for newcomers.

As the project is moving forward, the next national conference will be held on the 12th of December in Bucharest, courtesy of the Romanian Football Association (project partner). Migration’s impact in Romania is mainly seen negatively as it is instrumentalized by politics and medias. This results in a climate of fear  of terrorism and rejection of migrants. Thus, football allows to see immigration differently, as the country benefits from a good diversity of players at the top level with 30% of players being from 28 different nationalities. A good zero- tolerance  policy against xenophobia is running in Romanian football showing that sport is considered as a relevant tool to fight discrimination and exclusion. Nonetheless, even if initiatives are already existing, they need to go further and make these programmes, long term and sustainable, in order to overcome the mentality barrier and entrench a real change in the  society.

The event is open to everyone interested in the topic and it will be the opportunity to bring all national stakeholders together, whether they are volunteers, coaches, local grassroots football associations, asylum-seekers, migrants or refugees, associations or governmental bodies, around the same table to come share their projects, good practices, ideas and initiatives while networking.

Details on the program and will be soon communicated.

Sport et citoyenneté