Former FC Barcelona defender Lilian Thuram playing with children in Beirut, Lebanon | Credit: EPA/ALEX CAPARROS - BARCA FOUNDATION
Former FC Barcelona defender Lilian Thuram playing with children in Beirut, Lebanon | Credit: EPA/ALEX CAPARROS - BARCA FOUNDATION

Sport can play a crucial role in helping migrant children and teenagers overcome fears and trauma. Over 70 percent of participants in a sports program run by the charity of football giant FC Barcelona "showed significant improvement," a study found.

The research carried out on 800 young refugees found that 45.3 percent of the unaccompanied minors polled were less fearful, while 58.2 percent were socializing more due to their participation in soccer training. The research was carried out on underage migrants who received help from the FutbolNet program, which is active in centers and camps for refugees and unaccompanied minors in Italy, Greece and Lebanon. The program is funded by the Stravos Niarchos Fundation and the Foundation Barcelona FC - a charity run by the five-time Champions League winner from Barcelona, Spain. 


Jordi Cardoner, the vice president of the charity, which also goes by Barça Foundation, presented the results of the study saying that "71% of minors showed significant improvement with our activities and this study shows the positive impact of our action to support integration."

14,000 beneficiaries of the program

Since the end of 2015, the Barça Foundation, in cooperation with other institutions, has funded the program with 6 million euros. 

In total, explained Maria Valles, the director of the Foundation Barcelona FC, the program FutbolNet helped 14,000 refugees,. This includes 10,800 young people in schools in six municipalities of the Bekau region in Lebanon, and 3,200 children and teenagers in Greece or Italy who are staying at refugee camps in Skaramagas, Lesbos and Moria, who are  enrolled in schools in Athens, or who live at hosting centers for unaccompanied young migrants in Sicily and Calabria. 

Self-esteem, empowerment increased, study says

Valles said that ''self-esteem, empowerment and confidence'' of the minors that were polled "increased significantly" thanks to the program. All indicators of socialization, self-confidence and autonomy registered a significant improvement already in the first 25 weeks of the program, the report noted. 
 

More articles