The 3rd European ASPIRE Sport training session, co-organized by the Finnish Olympic Committee and ASPIRE Sports was held on the 12 December 2019 in Helsinki at the Taitotalo Centre.
The Session focused on the topic how sports clubs can become more inclusive to minorities and how participation in sport can contribute to refugees bonding, linking and enhancing their active presence in society.
The opening speech was held by Nasima Razmyar. The Deputy Mayor of Helsinki, previously active in a migrant women's organisation shared important tips - sometimes it takes special arrangements to make migrants physically active, for example women-only days at the swimming pool.
Razmyar drew also attention to the strength of patterns among the immigrants themselves. When specific groups of people, such as immigrants participate in exercises, the example and success of others inspire new "our" immigrant groups. This can make a positive twist.
The keynote speaker, football player Mehmet Hetemaj shared the story of his childhood - how sport helped him to adapt after moving to Finland. Born in Kosovo, Mehmet arrived with his family in 1992 at Oulu Reception Centre and then moved to Helsinki. In his speech he described how football supported not only building cohesion inside the team, but also with the whole society.
“In sport, everyone has the same rules. Through football it was easy to get into the community”
After two inspiring speeches, the ASPIRE training session continued with an grassroot example, the Vantaa City “Sport for All” project. The presentation led by Jasmina Gharieb touched an extremely important issue - the huge diversity of cultures and backgrounds that stand behind widely used generalization - the word “Immigrant”.
The presentation can be found here.
The ASPIRE training session drew wide field of participants - the representatives of various Finnish organisations, including the Football Association of Finland, the Finnish Swimming Association, Skating Finland, the Finnish Orienteering Federation, the Finnish Snowboard Association, MonaLiiku, Icehearts, the City of Helsinki, Vantaa, Järvenpää and the city of Hyvinkää.
For all participants the day finished with one more practical training - Lillemor Lindell and Sofia Karlsson from Riksidrottsförbundet presented key themes of "Accessible Sports Organizations" topic.
The full training material can be found here.
ASPIRE Sport training are held all over Europe with the aim to make a real impact on the lives of thousands of refugees through sport and play. We are glad the Finnish session ended with great success and provided inspiration, knowledge and many rewarding conversations.