Refugee boom sees Ger­man FA launch ad­vice guide

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

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

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