Footballing refugees succesful in Greece


This video says about itself:

(15 Feb 2017) A former Greece national football player is heading a project to help refugees stranded in Greece regain a sense of purpose.

The team that former goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis helped build is called “Hope” and made up of players who fled war zones like Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Most players live in a large trailer park at Skaramagas, an industrial zone west of Athens, where metal containers are turned into shoebox-shaped homes.

They train during the week, and on Sundays play in an amateur league against teams made up of professional groups like lawyers, telecom workers, and accountants.

Football’s governing body in Europe, UEFA, sponsors the refugee team as well as Greek charity Organisation Earth, which spearheaded the idea for the team.

Nikopolidis, who was key to Greece’s stunning 2004 European Cup victory, says the team provides a distraction for team members who face an uncertain future in the European Union’s slow-moving relocation programme.

Football is the main source of entertainment for many of the 60,000-odd refugees in Greece, housed in army camps, abandoned factories and disused facilities of the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Nearly 9,000 refugees have been moved from Greece to other European Union countries, but the EU says the speed of relocation is still just over half the target rate.

Several Hope players have been lost to the relocation scheme, but most are expecting a long wait in Greece.

“I think the main thing is that we’ve created a group of friends, a family with bonds of friendship,” Nikopolidis said.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Footballing refugees win (almost) everything in Greece

Today, 07:08

“Run, run”, the players shout on the soccer field to a team-mate sprinting past the high fences. The training of the refugee team is about to begin, on the artificial grass field of Atromitos amateur club at Piraeus. “That’s Tufan, from Afghanistan. He’s always late,” says a laughing Syrian boy.

That is a well-known problem, assistant coach Abdullah Sulleman, who comes from the Iraqi city of Mosul, explains. Public transport is irregular from the refugee camp. By bus and metro it takes about an hour to get to the training site.

There in Skaramagas refugee camp all began last year. It is one of the largest camps in Greece, with more than 3000 people living in container houses. Many are waiting for a verdict on their asylum procedure, relocation to EU member states or family reunification.

That often long wait leads to boredom and frustration. Boys and young men tried to kill time with – of course – football.

“Then I thought why we do not make a team,” says Abdullah, who has done sports training in Iraq. “We started with a ball, without sportswear or soccer shoes. On a simple concrete ground.” …

By calls on Facebook, and after selections, eventually 25 players were selected, a trainer and doctor appointed and a technical manager. He is a well-known person: ex-keeper Antonis Nikopolidis from the Greek national team who became European champions in 2004. …

“We now have a team of players from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen and recently from Morocco and Tanzania. They play in an amateur competition, against, eg, company teams, and are doing very well.”

“We’ve only lost two times,”said 23-year-old Mohammad Omar Shurdji of Damascus proudly. “Winning more than twenty times,” adds Abdessadek Chahine, a tall Moroccan boy from Casablanca, who has lived for a year and a half in Greece. Who also plays at a Greek club. 25-year-old Mohamed Wael Sefi played at an Aleppo club before leaving his country. “Soccer is all, it’s my life,” he says.

What the young players of this team, most of them between the ages of 18 and 25, have in common is that they played competition in their homeland, some at high level. Their dream is to play at a European club.

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5 thoughts on “Footballing refugees succesful in Greece

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  2. Tsipras ‘must let migrants go free ’

    GREECE: Human rights and aid groups wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras yesterday urging him to end a “containment policy” towards refugees reaching the Aegean islands.

    The groups warned that thousands of desperate people face “abysmal conditions” on the islands but are not allowed to travel to the mainland.

    About 15,000 refugees are restricted to the islands under a deal last year between the EU and Turkey.

    http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-e391-World-in-brief-Tuesday-October-24#.We8ZhXZpEdU

    Like

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