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EUR 50,000 for football at reception centres – top players to coach asylum seekers

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Reception centres will soon be applauding for their own players as the Football Association of Finland (FAF), the Football Players’ Association of Finland (FPA) and the Finnish Immigration Service are set to start coaching asylum seekers in football. Top players from the nearby clubs will be acting as coaches.

UEFA (the Union of European Football Associations) has awarded a grant of EUR 50,000 for football activities at reception centres in 2021. With the grant, the Finnish Immigration Service, the Football Association and the Players’ Association will organise a ‘Football belongs to everyone’ tour at reception centres and offer a training course for reception centre employees.

The goal of the project is to improve asylum seekers’ physical and mental well-being by increasing physical activity and football at reception centres all over Finland.

– Football supports asylum seekers’ well-being and increases their sense of community. I am extremely glad that we have been given a chance to improve football instruction skills at reception centres together with the Football Association and the Players’ Association, says Senior Adviser Kaisa Rontu from the Finnish Immigration Service.

Top players join the tour at reception centres

On each day of the tour a top player from the local or nearby club will be coaching the participants. In addition to asylum seekers, employees who have taken the training course will take part in the tour.

The tour days will culminate in a football match. In addition, asylum seekers will be provided information on equality. Study material from the Finnish Immigration Service’s course on Finnish society will be used in these discussions. Local players will also participate in the event to promote equality and speak against racism.

– The everyday life of football players is very multicultural, and on the pitch, everyone plays by the same rules. These basic elements of football provide a solid foundation for active interaction on the tour, says Executive Director Markus Juhola from the Football Players’ Association of Finland.

During the tour, asylum seekers will be provided information on local football events and activities.

Football Association to offer training course for reception centre employees

The aim of the project is that football can be played at reception centres regularly throughout the year. The Football Association will offer reception centre employees a two-day training course to help support asylum seekers’ well-rounded training.

– Football unites people and brings joy to the everyday life at reception centres. It is outstanding that with the help of UEFA’s Refugee Grant we will be able to create a model for promoting football and futsal at reception centres, says Sports Director Hannu Tihinen from the Football Association of Finland.

The Football Association and the Players’ Association are also collecting football gear, such as balls, boots, clothing and shin pads, for reception centres.

The grant-funded project builds on the earlier ‘Football belongs to everyone’ project that kicked off in 2013. Football is a popular hobby at reception centres and the highlight of the year is typically a tournament between centres. The project also entails cooperation between reception centres and local football clubs.

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Contacts

Finnish Immigration Service: Kaisa Rontu, Senior Adviser, Reception Unit, tel. +358 295463365, email: firstname.lastname@migri.fi

Football Association of Finland: Hannu Tihinen, Sports Director, tel. +358 503099345, email: hannu.tihinen@palloliitto.fi

Information on football gear donations:

Football Players’ Association of Finland: Markus Juhola, Executive Manager, tel. +358 505960727, email: markus@jpy.fi

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The Finnish Immigration Service is a decision-making organisation in matters related to immigration, asylum, refugee status and citizenship and maintains the reception system.

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