- Cost of the sub-project: €119,000
- Foundation funding: €119,000
- Partners: Aiolikos FC and Cosmos FC
Cosmos FC, a refugees’ football club, was founded in September 2016 on the initiative of a Lesbos native and ex-footballer who saw the potential for sports to alleviate the tensions caused by the refugee crisis on the island. Football can be more than just a game. Since 2016, the club has involved over 400 adults and minors – including girls, and regardless of religion and race – from 17 different countries.
Over the last two and a half years, Cosmos FC has been a sanctuary for people arriving on Lesbos (the island with the largest refugee population in Greece) on their way to the so-called ‘promised land’. Regular training and friendly matches against local clubs provide people with a sense of normality. At the same time, the club has gained the appreciation and respect of the local population of Lesbos.
In January 2019, Francis Kalombo, a 15-year-old Congolese boy and member of Cosmos FC became the first refugee to obtain an official licence to play in a European club, Aiolikos FC. His story instantly went viral, spreading throughout Greece and beyond and helping locals and refugees together raise awareness about refugees’ limited or non-existent access to sport. Subsequently, the Greek parliament passed legislation granting the right to participate in the amateur league and amateur cup matches not only to recognised refugees, but also to asylum-seekers, stateless persons and migrants who have a residence permit or have applied for a residence permit.
With the Two teams, one world project, Aiolikos FC and Cosmos FC are working together with the UEFA foundation to support more young refugees, including unaccompanied minors, teenagers and young adults.
The project will give 250 to 300 unaccompanied minors and other refugees aged 13 to 18 the opportunity to learn more about football through regular training. Regular exercise will help improve their physical and mental health, and football, as a team sport, will help them gain a sense of belonging, learn about teamwork and improve their self-confidence.
Friendly matches with local clubs will be combined with educational field trips to teach refugees about Greek and European societies and lifestyles, with a view to helping them adapt and integrate more easily. Refugees and Greek people from all backgrounds will play together, regardless of politics, religion or ethnicity, thus bridging possible divides between refugees and locals and creating the ideal opportunity to get to know one another.
An annual tournament (Cosmos Cup) will also be organised, involving either national or local clubs depending on the funding available, with the aim of combatting social exclusion and negative perceptions about refugees in society.
- Improve refugees’ living conditions and securing their fundamental right to personal development through sports and social interaction
- Build a stable environment in which young refugees can overcome psychological disorders and build self-confidence
- Cultivate a spirit of teamwork and solidarity
- Integrate refugees into a European society and mainstream football
- Reach female refugees, most of whom did not have the chance to play football or any other sport in their country of origin, because of the cultural and/or religious context
- Combat social exclusion and negative sentiments about refugees in society
- Use regular training and tournaments to create opportunities for refugees and locals to play together
- Act as a pilot programme, raising awareness and encouraging and supporting other clubs to launch similar programmes, particularly on the other North Aegean islands (Samos, Chíos) that accommodate large number of refugees
- Knowledge-sharing between Cosmos FC and Aiolikos FC, the only professional football club on Lesbos
- Regular football training for 300 unaccompanied minors and teenage refugees aged 13 to 18
- Educational field trips combined with friendly games with local teams
- Cosmos Cup tournament
- Encouraging other clubs and refugee camps to launch similar projects, especially on the other North Aegean islands (Samos, Chíos), which also accommodate a large number of refugees
- Regular football training held for at least 300 unaccompanied minors and teenage refugees aged 13 to 18
- One annual Cosmos Cup tournament
- At least four educational field trips combined with friendly games with local teams each year
- Increased participation of girls
- Development of similar programmes at other football clubs