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The initiative represents the FC Barcelona Foundation’s new approach towards refugees by promoting sports as a tool for social integration for more than 3,000 children
The FC Barcelona Foundation is already active, like at the Kara Tepe refugee camp on the Greek Island of Lesbos.
The FC Barcelona Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation are collaborating for the implementation of the FC Barcelona Foundation’s FutbolNet methodology programs with the aim of helping refugee children and teenagers by preventing and solving conflicts and encouraging social inclusion and integration in hosting communities. The grant by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation will allow the FC Barcelona Foundation to help children in refugee sites in Europe and the Middle East.
More than 3,000 children in Greece, Italy and Lebanon will be the direct beneficiaries of the FC Barcelona Foundation's refugee program, with the financial support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
Details of the agreement will be announced on Friday, June 23rd during the Sixth Annual Stavros Niarchos Foundation International Conference on Philanthropy, at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, in a meeting between the Co-President of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Andreas Dracopoulos, and the CEO of the FC Barcelona Foundation, Nacho Mestre.
During the first phase of the program, the FC Barcelona Foundation will carry out the FutbolNet methodology program with 1,300 children and teenagers from refugee sites and local hosting communities in Greece, and specifically in Lesbos, Chios, Skaramagas and central Athens. These areas have been selected because of the large proportion of children living within these refugee communities, representing one of the most vulnerable groups affected by the crisis. The program, in the context of the agreement between the FC Barcelona Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation was launched in Lesbos with a game and a clinic, an educational activity that included the participation of former FC Barcelona players.
The second phase of the program will take place in Italy. FC Barcelona Foundation will engage 900 children and teenagers at unaccompanied minors’ centers, many of whom lost their families in war zones or during their journeys to Europe.
The third country where the program will be implemented is Lebanon, and specifically the Bekaa Valley region. Many children in this area have been residing in refugee camps for more than 5 years and more than 70% are not attending school.
Integrating children with their local host communities will be a key focus of the program in all three countries.
FC Barcelona Foundation sports methodology: FutbolNet
The FutbolNet methodology uses sports as a neutral platform to tackle social problems and provide education on values and reflection tools to stimulate children and young people. FutbolNet is a proven program that has been evaluated and recognized for its social impact and transformation in many countries and in different contexts.
The FC Barcelona Foundation will adapt the FutbolNet methodology to the refugee context and will address self-confidence and trauma mitigation, respect, integration, and conflict management between people using dialogue as the main tool. FutbolNet sessions will be implemented weekly throughout the year.
In addition, FutbolNet Festivals will be organized throughout the year, where participants of the regular FutbolNet program will have the opportunity to share the experience with other children and their families.
Innovation: Sports kit for refugee sites
Together with the implementation of the FutbolNet methodology, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation grant will allow FC Barcelona Foundation and FC Barcelona’s Innovation Hub to pilot the development of an innovative, portable, and easy-to-use sports kit specially designed for promoting sports and education values. The kit will be distributed in selected refugee sites through partners and will be evaluated for future use.
The co-president of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Mr. Andreas Dracopoulos stated: “Since the outbreak of the refugee crisis in 2014, the SNF has funded grants totaling more than $25m to support organizations and civil society efforts in Greece and elsewhere that provide aid to those afflicted. We are excited to support the FCB Foundation’s impactful educational and sports programs for refugee children in Europe and the Middle East and look forward to witnessing how the universal values of teamwork, effort, humility, dialogue, sport and fun can build friendships and help refugees and local communities connect and truly integrate in a joyful and positive environment.”
The CEO of the FC Barcelona Foundation, Mr. Nacho Mestre, said: “FC Barcelona and its Foundation are profoundly committed to this unprecedented migratory crisis where more than 65 million people have been forced into displacement. The FC Barcelona Foundation is honored by this strategic alliance with an organization as prestigious as the Stavros Niarchos Foundation that will allow us to take a step further in our goal of trying to normalize the living conditions of refugee children and young people, as well as facilitating their integration into their host communities.”