The round table-webinar event “Telling and sharing good sports practises for the inclusion of female refugees – Experiences from the territories and Europe” was organised by UISP on January 28. The national gathering involved several activities under the umbrella of the FARE Network and UISP-led INSPIRES (INtegration through Sport and Inclusion for Refugees in Europe for Sustainability) project.

The webinar fostered discussion among the various parties that UISP works with to promote sport as a means of social participation and integration for refugees and asylum seekers. Examples from different UISP local committees’ recognised experiences were illustrated, underlining how despite grassroots, sport promotes inclusion and integration of refugees as their access to sports facilities is limited. Aiming to raise understanding of the needs and expectations of refugees, grassroots sports organisations are working to modify already-existing activities and develop appropriate engagement programmes.

The purpose of INSPIRES was depicted to offer refugees, football actors (coaches, referees, club administrators) and civil society organizations the necessary knowledge to promote the integration and social inclusion of refugees around Europe.  The webinar illustrated experiences developed in other European countries and shared the good practices promoted in territories in Italy, with a focus on the challenges posed, in particular, by the goal of including refugee women.

Speakers of the webinar were: Daniela Conti, Head of Interculturality and Cooperation Policies Uisp; Patrizia Alfano, national Uisp deputy Chair and Paola Voltolina, from the Turin Committee Uisp; Alberto Urbinati, Liberi Nantes president, with the experience of inclusion of refugees and asylum seekers present in trekking, rugby, football and other activities in Rome; Daniela De Angelis, Social Responsibility referent in the Italian Rugby Federation; Fabio Appetiti, responsible for institutional relations in AIC (Italian Footballers Association), who illustrated the experience of solidarity and inclusion between Italian and Afghan female footballers, conducted by the Association.

An important contribution came from Gian Marco Duina, an expert on the INSPIRES project on the experiences, and good practices from other European countries. The Meeting was moderated by Raffaella Chiodo Karpinsky, project coordinator on behalf of UISP. “Uisp has always been committed to promoting good inclusion practices that take into account complicated situations such as those of refugees – said Patrizia Alfano, Uisp national deputy Chair and president of Uisp Piemonte Region, who presented the women’s swimming pool experience together with Paola Voltolina of the Turin Committee. Patrizia added: “in addition to this, we are an association that knows how to grasp requests and needs and transform them into actions.

It began 12 years ago by granting a group of Muslim women’s request and turning it into a project open to all women; in this way, the initiative gained content from its connections to other realities that deal with the inclusion and integration of immigrant women. “We understand that the experience of the women’s pool is not simply replicated,” Patrizia continues. “Good practise must be handled in every particular detail, especially in the relationships between teachers and members, in order to be repeated and produce beneficial effects.

Finding professors who are prepared to go above the technical requirements and welcome students and listen to them is essential. For this reason, in order to lay strong groundwork for our initiative, we have arranged for times of debate and conflict, as well as dealing with contentious matters. We specifically included regional UISP committees that work with refugees or have plans to expand such social work through sports like soccer and others.

The meeting was scheduled in person, but the Italian government’s constraints prevented it from going as planned. Regardless, the event went smoothly in terms of the involvement of many Committees and celebrities, which could not be guaranteed due to these constraints The workshop that was held in Torino on May 29 in addition to the events involving a women’s football game between teams composed of Iranian and Russian-speaking girls and the swimming activities with Muslim women inspired by the webinar, which served as the project’s other activity and was managed by UISP. Together, a network of volunteers helped make these events in Turin a reality.’’

Here is an article from the UISP site on the webinar that illustrates the content of the round table.  Here you can find the recording of the webinar: recording. Attached to this report you can find the flyer about the event that was used to spread the information on the agenda and how to participate as well as some pictures from the events in Torino. 

As a final point, the challenges are in lines with the social distance brought on by the pandemic, which prevented practising and gathering for two years. It was more difficult and required more time and effort to re-motivate and involve migrants, refugees and volunteers in this type of situation where they are already experiencing separation from the local population. Despite this, it was a lovely celebration of a fresh start for everyone while also analysing and assessing the previous efforts!

The workshop was a unique chance to discuss potential new tactics for reaching out to various generations of refugees and migrants and to gain knowledge from other experiences provided by the INSPIRES project on how to design and potentially improve football and swimming experiences to be more beneficial both quantitatively and qualitatively. From this perspective, the events and the workshop were very beneficial for relaunching a fresh vision in response to the experiences provided by the INSPIRES project during the webinar on January 28 and the workshop in Torino on May 29.

Picture of the Russian Speaking girls Team
Picture of all the teams involved

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