Footballing refugees succesfull 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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Famous Greek footballer helps refugees


This video is about the Greek national football team unexpectedly winning the 2004 European championship by beating favourites Portugal in the final match.

A big factor in the Greek victory was their goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis. He stopped many dangerous shots by Cristiano Ronaldo and other Portuguese players.

As Dutch daily De Volkskrant reports today, Antonis Nikopolidis now is 46 years old, and still involved in football. He is a trainer for refugees from the wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, stuck in Greece because of anti-refugee policies in European countries.

Football helps the refugees cope with their terrible memories of bloody wars, and with their uncertain present.

How a project to help refugee women is making American produce a lot more interesting: here.

Ancient Aeschylus play and today’s refugees


This video from Scotland says about itself:

29 September 2016

Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh and Actors Touring Company Present

THE SUPPLIANT WOMEN

by Aeschylus, in a new version by David Greig.

1 – 15 October 2016 at The Lyceum and then touring.

The creative team talk about staging this 2500 year old play that feels more relevant than ever, working with a community chorus and combining ancient and contemporary music….

Learn more about the play here.

By Paul Foley in England:

Women begging immediate attention

Tuesday 21st March 2017

Written almost 2,500 years ago, a drama on the migrants’ plight is a play for today if ever there was one, says PAUL FOLEY

The Suppliant Women

Royal Exchange, Manchester

5/5

THIRTY-FIVE women, fists defiantly aloft, chant: “Power to women!” The lights snap off and the theatre erupts with cheers.

As endings go, they don’t come much better than this and David Greig’s scintillating adaptation of Aeschylus’s The Suppliant Women deserves that audience response.

In it, migrant women risk everything as they cross treacherous seas before washing up on Greek shores. Fleeing forced marriage, incest and rape, they seek asylum. As the women enter at the opening, suppliant batons in hand, they chant and move as in some native American ritual dance. Their fear is palpable but their pride is intact.

“To act or not to act” is the dilemma facing The King of Argos. Protecting these migrant women will lead to war but fail them and Argos will be shamed for ever. His solution is to rely on democracy and let the people decide.

On the eve of the vote, the women are reminded that as migrants they will be feared and mistrusted. They must remain meek and respectful so that the people — and we — can see the merits of their cause.

Ramin Gray’s spellbinding production for the Actors Touring Company, aided by Sasha Milavic Davies’s choreography and John Browne’s music, has 35 women — all volunteers from the local community — making the case on behalf of refugees around the world, with Gemma May superb as the ringleader corralling her sisters.

Aeschylus inverts the normal Greek dramatic tradition by putting the chorus, usually a device to drive the narrative forward, centre stage. But here it is itself the story, with the main protagonists merely on the periphery.

Moving to the rhythm of the sea, they sway back and forth like hypnotised snakes as they dance to the haunting sounds of Callum Armstrong’s Aulos pipes.

Then, suddenly, they’re whipped into a frenzy, as if an ill-wind is tossing them into a vortex of doom.

In a world where scapegoating migrants and refugees escaping poverty and war is the norm in some quarters, Aeschylus reminds us of our common humanity.

Highly recommended. Runs until April 1, box office: royalexchange.co.uk.