Location and general information
Royal Europa Kraainem FC are an amateur club that aspires to defend diversity in Belgian football. In September 2015, during the migration crisis in Europe, the club launched a flagship project to promote the social integration of young refugees and asylum-seekers and adapted its structure to host unaccompanied minors with a migrant background.
Every afternoon during the football season, from September to May, the club welcomes groups of young refugees and asylum-seekers. They take part in round-table discussions and train with the youth teams. Since 2015, the project has become long-term with the aim of helping these youngsters to blend into society in accordance with the club’s conviction that football is a great integration tool.
The project’s main objective is to support asylum-seekers and refugees by getting them involved in the club. This keeps them active and gives them a sense of belonging in their host community. The club also wants to share its experience and approach with football stakeholders and other organisations and inspire them to set up their own projects.
A typical afternoon for the beneficiaries comprises a round-table discussion, football training and a social moment around a group meal. The season ends with the Football and Freedom tournament involving 200 youngsters from football clubs and Fedasil asylum centres all over Belgium. Besides the project, occupational training and internships are organised in cooperation with the club’s partners.
Next year, the club ought to be able to host about 500 young migrants, bringing the total number of beneficiaries since the start to 3,000. One objective is to focus more on young women, so the club intends to open its doors to over a hundred female refugees. In addition, the club wants to strengthen its partnership with HUMA, a non-profit that provides expertise in producing editorial projects and documentaries, with the aim of developing the club’s digital platform. Videos and interviews with those involved in the project will be published to reach the broadest possible audience.