LAST week QPR joined forces with partner and guest clubs of the Football Club Social Alliance (FCSA) to continue an educational project for refugees in Eastern Ukraine.
Over the course of eight months of the project, 40 young women and men are trained to become Young Coaches, children’s football coaches with special social competence. They learn how to plan games and sports activities to promote integration of internally displaced children in their host society.
In Europe, the topic of internally displaced people (IDP) had not been relevant any more since over a decade. This changed quickly after the eruption of the armed conflict in Ukraine in 2014. According to UNHCR, more than 1.7 million people were forced to leave their homes in Eastern Ukraine and find refuge in other parts of the country. Since there is no prospect of solution of the conflict in the near future, the IDPs now need to be integrated into their host communities. For this reason the FCSA decided to launch a project in Ukraine which uses football to promote integration and convey social values.
The second of three education modules was conducted by instructors of QPR, FC Basel 1893, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Shakhtar Donetsk. The 40 young adults come from all over Ukraine and are trained from October 2016 until May 2017 to become children’s football coaches and mentors.
Project partners like UNICEF, International Organisation of Migration and Terre des Hommes selected the participants and supplement the education with workshops about children’s rights and psycho-social care for traumatised children. After successful completion of the education, the so-called Young Coaches will be able to use sports and games to promote integration of children in their host communities and support them as persons of trust with overcoming the trauma they have suffered during the war and the flight.
QPR in the Community Trust coach Tom Charles travelled to Kramatorsk to share his experience as a children’s coach, telling www.qpr.co.uk: “I felt privileged and humbled to be invited to Ukraine to be a part of the instructor team to educate the young coaches working with children, some of whom may be internally displaced, from their local communities.
“It was an exciting opportunity to visit Ukraine for the first time in order to learn about their culture and share ideas to use football as a vehicle to educate children at the grassroots level. It was an interesting experience communicating through an interpreter which confirmed that being an effective coach is about more than having an excellent knowledge of football; it is about people and being able to develop positive relationships.
“Amazing work is being carried out across the world by the FCSA who use football to create social change by up-skilling young coaches to educate children on current societal issues and provide them with enjoyable experiences and the tools to develop relationships within their communities. The FCSA brings coaches from a diverse range of backgrounds and provides an environment within which they can share their knowledge, experience and ideas, while challenging each other to become better for the good of the children.
“I was impressed by the standard of coaching on display but more importantly, the young coaches were good people. From the first day it was clear that they had made friends with each other during the previous module, and they were enthusiastic about child development and inspiring the next generation. They displayed a willingness to share ideas, implement them practically and critically evaluate them with the children in mind. During the coaching sessions, their care and affection for the local children came to the fore which was reflected by the enjoyment of the children – they didn't want to go back to school! With this group of young coaches I think the future of Ukrainian children is in good hands.
“From a personal perspective, being involved with the FCSA was hugely rewarding. The power of the QPR badge instantly opens lines of communication which enables us to share the positive impact we are having within our local communities. I have learned about the issues these coaches face and how they manage them. Some of which I plan on implementing into my approach. For me, this experience has confirmed that coaching is about people, relationships and the importance of our role as coaches, for inspiring people through football.”
Yuri, one of participants, added: “The programme has changed my training approach with children.
“Before, my focus was rather to develop future professional players. Here I learned how to foster the children’s general development and their joy and happiness during the training. This is actually much more important and only this way you can actually positively impact the children’s lives.”
The instructors will return to Ukraine in May 2017 for another week of training and complete the education.
The project is financed by the UEFA Foundation for Children, the Football Club Social Alliance, FC Shakhtar Donetsk and the Scort Foundation.
CLICK HERE to see pictures from the training modules in October and March.