“Physical activity and sport as an effective tool for the integration of immigrants and refugees to Bulgarian society”
The Bulgarian Association of Physical Culture and Sport (BSF), a key partner of
an international project led by the ENGSO - The European Sport NGO
ASPIRE – Activity, Sport, Play for the Inclusion of Refugees in Europe is an international project that focuses on social inclusion in relation to people who are at risk of exclusion, especially refugees.
ASPIRE seeks to establish how sports clubs can best support the inclusion of migrants and refugees building on the wide popularity of sports and other forms of physical activity.
ASPIRE could serve as a pioneer in the long-term perspective, offering a positive, evidence-based response with the help of sport to the many problems of inclusion, during and after the settlement of migrants and refugees, by utilising sport to facilitate the access of refugees to social services.
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More than a million migrants and refugees have crossed into Europe in recent years, sparking migrant and refugee crises. Some of the challenges of the current situation in Europe are well known; other issues will only become clear over time. Workable solutions will probably only emerge by taking a long-term perspective, one that offers a practical solution to the many problems of inclusion, both during and after the settlement of migrants and refugees.
Sport is often claimed to help address social problems, such as the effects of social exclusion. Participation in sport, physical activity and play can be a means of promoting intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding. It can also ease the transition process, alleviate trauma and support the psychological and social wellbeing of individuals in marginalised, traumatised, or other at-risk groups. There is evidence that sport and physical activity contribute to positive relationships, trust, community cohesion, and enhanced social status (Human Capital Model, Bailey, et al., 2012, 2013). This way, sport can help Europe to address some of the challenges related to the recent migrant and refugee crises and the social inclusion of refugees.
The ASPIRE project has the main aim to offer refugees opportunities for participation in sport and in community life through sport. This aim can be best achieved by the development and implementation of a specialised training module that guides sports organisations to become more accessible. It also supports individuals with sporting background how to adapt existing coaching activities to the specific context of refugees and migrants.
The implementation occurs through the organisation of training sessions for facilitators from national or regional sport umbrella organisations in 9 European countries with a wide geographical coverage. Continuous awareness-raising and dissemination activities are an integral part of the project. We work with a variety of organisations to create a strong link with the grassroots level and to raise awareness of the potential role of sport in promoting the social inclusion of refugees..
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