Save the Dream and its partners in the EU ERASMUS+ Crossing the Boundaries through Sport “CrosSport” project the International Olympic Truce Centre (IOTC), Spanish Fundación Sevilla Fútbol Club, and Italy’s Fondazione Lazio 1900 hosted the final conference of the project held at Centro Desportivo Nacional do Jamor in Lisbon, Portugal.

The event represented an opportunity to commemorate the World’s Refugee Day by sharing a positive message of integration, inclusion, cohesion, tolerance, and solidarity.

Discussions revolved around an insight-sharing debate where project partners, participating organizations, the Community Leader for Sport Inclusion in the hosting communities (CLIS) and of the Sport for Inclusion Activist in the refugee community (SIA), and representatives of the refugee community who presented key activities, results, and challenges of the project.

Participants also shared insights on the future perspectives of the project implemented as a pilot action which tested a new working methodology and adjusted it to each country’s specific conditions, with a focus on the benefits for the refugees and the stakeholders supporting them.

CrosSport project is a trans-European partnership that fosters inclusion and integration of youth refugees through sport by establishing collaborative mechanisms and peer to peer platforms with the aim of empowering sport organizations and connecting them with integration-focused social development organizations.

It was designed and implemented to support young refugees in Europe by using sport as a transformative tool to offer opportunities for their integration and social inclusion while tackling the challenges that migration flows pose to the four selected countries: Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.

The 36-month EU-funded project established a national and European collaborative mechanism and a network of key “like-minded” players in the sport-for-inclusion ecosystem while building the capacities of sport and social development organizations.

During the project’s implementation, all partners, stakeholders and refugees have worked together to create national focus groups and collect good practices; design and implement new educational tools aimed at empowering committed stakeholders and refugees through the creation of the figures of CLIS and of SIA.

Project partners elaborated a Methodology Handbook on how to achieve a strengthened cooperation between sport organizations and integration-focused social development organizations and to increase community participation of youth refugees through the attractiveness of sport activities.

The project also raised awareness about actions aimed at promoting the inclusion of refugees and migrants in their new communities across the four selected countries: Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain which face the challenges posed by the current migration flows.

“A ball can change the world. This is my motto. Thanks to my sport team I feel more powerful and encouraged not to fear the new society I have joined, continued in my life without giving up. Sport helped me be where I am today. Today I am in Germany, where I started a training in an IT company, and I feel very good there”. Said Shakiba Shaeedi, refugee from Afghanistan, playing football at Team Hestia in Greece, Champion of the Global Goals World Cup Europe 2019.

“After five years from the beginning of the war, I started looking for my inner peace and I found it with sport. I knew archery and since 2016 my life changed. Sport for me was like a bubble where I could live a good life during the war. I participated in national competitions and then I got the chance to apply for a scholarship outside of Syria. With sport, I had that chance that other people wouldn’t have. Thanks to the Save the Dream scholarship I participated in the TASEM project and then I went on with my studies and made a life in Portugal.”  Said Bushra Shehadah, refugee from Syria, and archery athlete.

Massimiliano Montanari, Save the Dream CEO, said : “CrosSport project sent a clear message that sport is a significant tool for inclusion, integration, and socialization among young refugees.

This final conference marks the culmination of years of collaborative effort between partners dedicated to using sport as a platform to promote physical and mental health among refugees in host countries. I wish to thank the European Union for having believed in our vision and helping us in restoring hope and create new opportunities in the live of young refugees living in the countries targeted by the project.”

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