A few children sit around a ball and, guided by some trainers, decide the rules to be implemented in the football game. As they are rules adopted jointly, they can not be skipped and, in case someone does or there is an argument, the obligation is to sit down all over again and solve the mess so that the ball can roll again. It is a simple and routine act that, nevertheless, because of the environment in which it is carried out, becomes exceptional and formative. Because these children live in a refugee camp (Skaramagas, Lesbos and Mória in Greece), in school settings within urban areas (Athens), in municipal settings (Bekaa in Lebanon) and in shelters for unaccompanied minors (Sicily and Calabria in Italy), places where the Foundation of FC Barcelona has implemented the methodology Futbolnet to try to change the lives of those infants and young refugees.
"Although at first it costs a lot, in a few sessions it is seen that they stop discriminating, that they improve their behavior and emotional well-being, they are even able to disconnect at times from their reality and make friends that extrapolate to their families", says an boy who prefers to remain anonymous but has been in all the centers, which are usually owned by the administration or fields financed by the cooperation of countries such as the British development agency and some other NGO, as well partners local. And, in each of the centers, Barça places local coordinators who are responsible for regularizing the training of educators, the provision of materials, clarifying the implementation of the methodology … Thus, Barca worried about how the aid program evolved to refugees, decided to conduct an independent study with fabulous results. "I wish there were more projects like this and above all organizations committed to the cause. It's brutal the work they do and the results they get, "reveals a person who has participated in the study. "After 25 of the 72 sessions we did, we see a very large change in behavior," adds María Vallés, director of the Barça Foundation.
Vallés was the one who gave a turn to everything on his arrival because he decided not to say yes to all the proposals of the thousands that come to the Foundation, but chose to choose the actions to be able to give him all the dedication, to the point that It already has 14,000 beneficiaries in its programs and some 3,200 refugees assisted. "Beyond implementing our programs professionally and with results, our responsibility is to go further and bring this hope to millions of people who do not have it today," Vallés said at the ceremony held on Wednesday to raise awareness the results of the study. "We try to get smiles before the social injustice that these children live", added Jordi Cardoner, Barça vice president responsible for the social area. Something that works as witnessed former player Liliam Thuram, who went to Lebanon to lend a hand. "When I saw the smile of the children, I thought that football gives them self-esteem. I also met the parents, and I remember that there was someone who invited me to dinner in the refugee camp. We had already had dinner, but we could not say no. It's about giving them back their dignity, "explained the exazulgrana.
The study says that there are six very evident impacts in their actions: reduction of conflict situations; children show less fear and are more calm; they coexist in a more secure space; forge friendships; behavioral changes are appreciated in the first phases of the programs; and your confidence grows. "But not only that," intervenes the boy who has passed through all the centers; "It helps them think, reason, make decisions, acquire judgment … Because there are not a few who have their school on Futbolnet because they can not go to school because of their personal situation".
So far, thanks to the support also of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), has invested about six million euros in these centers and in the training of 191 educators (30% have been refugees), and within a month will start another program in Catalonia for unaccompanied minors, where there will be about 200 more beneficiaries.