The football team of the Greek Forum of Refugees (GFR F.C.)

Football is an ideal tool for approaching and achieving the goal of integrating refugees, migrants and asylum seekers into the local community.

Utilizing the know-how built in recent years in daily contact with the refugee and migrant communities, we realized that the creation and continuation of the football team is a reference point for the refugees and migrants who are a part of it.

Thus, through the daily competitive activity, the communities come in communication, interaction and substantial contact with each other, facing the difficult issues of discrimination and separation, through the status of a sports team, with foundations, principles, values ​​and an operating mechanism that can and does integrate people with different cultural backgrounds.

Sport is a valuable tool for young people to gain self-confidence and forge a strong character. Through this football team we aim to address several issues that affect the daily lives of refugees and migrant team members.

The group itself offers an enhanced interaction between the different nationalities that constitute the group and can also serve as a mapping tool that will collect the challenges and needs of refugee communities, asylum seekers, migrants of first and second generation. In addition, it will enrich the skills of participants with a general goal to create an academy that will function as a talent pool for football teams throughout Greece and Europe.

GFR F.C. emerged through the Erasmus + program and specifically, through the MATCH Project in Greece which aimed to support social inclusion through sports.

The success of the project consists in the willingness of the team members to continue to fight under the roof of the Greek Forum of Refugees, which led us to work hard for the viability of the project.

The Greek Forum of Refugees was the only partner in the original project that chose to maintain the team and support it in every possible way.

Today the Greek Forum of Refugees Football Club has twenty-five (25) regular members of the roster and about 50 young athletes who work through daily training to develop and improve their skills. The team trains daily and participates, at the same time, in one of the most historic amateur football championships in Greece,, which counts over forty years of presence in amateur sports events.

The group consists of asylum seekers, refugees, migrants and second generation people born in Greece. Our team consists mainly of young people of African descent, but maintains an exceptional diversity: Syria, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Congo, Cameroon, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Eritrea, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Palestine, are the athlete’s origin countries.

The athletes of the team are usually between 18 to 34 years old. Many of our athletes have gone through professional or semi-professional football leagues and their experiences help us to guide the younger ones to the right path.

Greece as a transit country for most of the aforementioned populations which means that the team is constantly renewing its members while maintaining, however, a base of dedicated athletes.

The Greek Forum of Refugees utilizes the football team as a tool for mapping the needs and challenges of refugee and migrant communities. Thus, we work to facilitate the accessibility of team members to educational processes, the labor market, health services and their interaction with administrative services. At the same time, we support athletes who are trying to rise to an athletic level through communication and networking with sports clubs and associations.

The biggest success of the project is reflected in the operation of the football team during the pandemic period, where many of our players faced even survival issues. The core of the team was activated by taking the initiative of recording, but also of solving problems. Thus, the basic principle of the Greek Forum of Refugees was confirmed: Solutions can come from the refugees, with the refugees, for the refugees.

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