‘When you're on the pitch...life goes away.’ Maradona
Currently, there are 1,603 refugees on the island of Leros. The numbers keep rising as the warm and calm weather continues allowing refugee boats to attempt the dangerous crossing from Turkey. Now, more than ever, the Hub has become a vital part of the resident’s everyday life while they wait for their asylum case to be decided. The Hub continues to thrive, attendance to all classes remains at full capacity, and the success can be measured in the exams passed both in English and IT by our students. Greek lessons have continued to draw people in, the positive outcome daily visible in the streets of Leros, where our students are able to address members of the local community in the native language. With the arrival of so man people from different countries, diverse cultures and languages, it has been an opportunity more than ever to all to learn from each other at our Hub. This can be witnessed particularly during our Women’s Day, which is a haven of multicultural activities, new dances to diverse music and delicious dishes.
‘This team challenges you and I like that. Football is in my blood and I have to play. I’ll play with anyone, it doesn’t matter, but there are some very good players on this team.’ Hassan
Our team has taken full advantage of the warm weather and moved a lot of our extracurricular activities outside. From art classes under our newly constructed pergola to sports day in the garden, to swimming in the Aegean Sea, we are enjoying everything Leros has to offer. The most popular of all these activities remains football. Sport allows for clarity of mind, it provides our players with both a physical and mental release, which is of utmost importance, and that is why we continue to offer it in our weekly schedules.
‘On the football field, we all communicate with each other. Each player is a piece of the machine doing its job.’ Raed
We have seen a steady increase in attendance ever since the beginning of the year, with football teams often reaching full capacity. Due to the enthusiasm and commitment of the players, we started dividing playing time into two sessions. The first half consists of training, tactics, strength building, skill development, the other half is for playing a proper match. This is the time when players show what they have learnt in order to execute a healthy and competitive game. This new system ensures proper training and development of team-work, useful both on and off the field, as well as maximising the numbers of players, so no one gets left out.
‘I like the competition and the challenge. I am a competitive person!I like playing here because I can improve my skills.’ Ibrahim
It has been a very exciting time in terms of establishing football partnerships. We welcomed back Konrad from Buntkicktgut. Konrad focuses on participation, integration and identification, mirroring Echo’s philosophy that football is a common language that it is understood and accepted worldwide. His positive outlook is openly accepted and inspires our players to self-coach and support each other on and off the pitch. It has been a very exciting time in terms of establishing football partnerships. We welcomed back Konrad from Buntkicktgut.
‘Playing football here is better than staying at the Hotspot. It allows me to meet a lot of people from different countries and it brings us all together.’ Laith
This year we’ve also been lucky enough to join forces with ISMP (International Sports and Music Partnership) whose mission is to increase access to sports and music programming in shelters, refugee camps, orphanages, and vulnerable communities around the world as a means of bolstering positive mental health. Our partnership has brought in funds for new kits, boots and equipment for our players. This outside interest and support of our football team has released new energy, pride and belonging amongst the players, boosting morale and resulting in a 1-0 victory against the local team of Leros! It is true, football, like all sport, knows no barriers of culture or language and has worked wonders in furthering integration and acceptance of the refugee community on Leros.
‘I have fun playing with this team, even though some of the players are new to the game. I come to keep playing and because the members of the team treat me with respect. Thanks to this football team I have 10 close friends and we play together.’ Abdul