Refugee boom sees German FA launch advice guide
A major refugee influx has had a knock-on effect on football pitches across Germany with four times as many foreigners now playing in the home of the world champions.
The German Football Association (DFB) says 42,000 foreigners-many of whom are refugees seeking shelter here-applied for a licence to play here in the last 12 months, after Germany took in almost 900,000 asylum seekers.
There are 6.5 million registered players in Germany, organised by over 26,000 clubs. To help new arrivals, the DFB has produced a brochure “At home in football” designed to help German clubs and refugees alike.
The brochure offers refugees advice on how to learn the language and integrate in clubs, while it suggests ways German clubs can help any new arrivals who may have endured trauma in their former homeland.
The brochure, which was presented to German Chancellor Angela Merkel at an Integration Summit in Berlin on Monday, is fronted by Paris SaintGermain winger Lira Alushi.
The 28-year-old is a Germany international who fled Kosovo as a four-year-old, but says football helped her integrate.
“We were foreigners (in Germany) and had to deal with rejection,” she said. “As children, we nevertheless made contacts quickly. “Football helped me make friends and gave me new self-confidence.”
Nearly 3,000 football clubs across Germany are participating in a “1:0 for a welcome”, a DFB campaign to encourage clubs to recruit refugees in both sexes. The impact of refugees in German football is felt from grassroots levels up to the top tier.
Players such as Bakery Jatta, 18, of Hamburg and Werder Bremen’s Ousman Manneh, 19, have signed for Bundesliga clubs this season having originally arrived as refugees from Gambia.
“For many refugees, football means a lot and thousands of football clubs in Germany have understood that and invited people from Syria, Afghanistan or Erirea to football matches,” said Jatta, who has signed a three-year contract with Hamburg.
“Football made it possible for me to learn the language, to come into contact with Germans and escape the boredom of being stuck in a home.
“I grew up without parents in Gambia and in 2015, my 6,000 kilometres journey to Germany began.
“I felt the special atmosphere in Hamburg, (the club’s bosses at the start of the season) Dietmar Beiersdorfer and Bruno Labbadia were friendly, ready to help and interested in me.
“It was a great feeling to have been welcomed with open arms. “I can’t, and don’t want to be, a role model for other refugees, but I am proud of the football in my new homeland, Germany.”
Jatta has so far only played for Hamburg’s reserves, but Manneh, 19, who arrived here in 2014, has played in six Bundesliga matches this season and scored his first German league goal in October. — AFP