Hungary & Bulgaria Reach Out to Refugees

Last month, the European Commission selected 11 applications from 10 EU countries as part of an effort to fund projects that promote sport and physical activity for refugees. Two of those projects are organised by Homeless World Cup partners in Hungary and Bulgaria.

The Oltalom Sports Association in Hungary give disadvantaged and homeless people the opportunity to participate in sports and social activities. Their new project is called “Welcome to the pitch!” and aims to integrate refugees residing in Hungary into society with the help of football.

“We are implementing weekly training sessions, special fair play football tournaments, integration workshops for participants, and publishing a handbook on how to use sports for social integration that will include best practices,” explained programme organizer András Rákos. “We are very happy to implement our new project focusing on refugees!”

To the south, Sports Management Bulgaria will kick off “Football and Fun: HEPA for Refugees.” The pilot project will promote health-enhancing physical activity. They’re aiming to involved 120 young refugees and asylum-seekers living in six refugee camps in regular training exercises and sporting events. Their aim is to provide opportunities for personal development, improve overall welfare, and introduce participants to the Bulgarian culture and way of life.

The Bulgarian programme plans to use “Suggestopedic” methods. “Suggestopedia is a unique Bulgarian method of communication on the level of the hidden reserves of the human mind, created by Prof. Dr. Georgi Lozanov,” explained organizer Viktor Kirkov. “[It provides] an alternative towards an easier, faster and joyful way of getting comprehension of foreign languages. It will help the young refugees to derive maximum delight and fun from the physical exercises.”

Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said of the projects: “I am very pleased that the EU is supporting concrete actions enabling refugees to participate in sport and physical activity. Sport can be a great way to convey EU values and will help to better integrate refugees into European societies. Through these projects we hope to draw many lessons, which we can use to set up even more ambitious actions in future.”

Photo: Kuasi, the Bulgarian Team of Hope’s first refugee player, pictured at the 2014 Homeless World Cup in Chile