Football for refugees

Members of Ariston '80, the open student football club of TU Delft, recently hosted a football clinic for refugees in Delft. The event took place April 30th at the sports centre on campus.

The idea and planning was a joint effort according to Ariston ‘80club treasurer Bob Dijkhuizen, a master's student in Technology, Policy and Management. "We were contacted by a foundation from Delft called Delftse Buur asking if we could do something for refugees arriving in Delft," he said. Because Ariston ’80 is a student association, members must be associated with the university when they join, so offering memberships was not an option. "Then we got the idea of organising a soccer clinic for them," said Dijkhuizen. Another foundation called Present helped organisers to reach out to the refugees in Delft. In addition, financial support was provided Puur Voetbal, a sports shop located in Delft city centre.

About ten refugees and 15 volunteers participated in the afternoon activity. "We were asked specifically to arrange a large number of volunteers, because the refugees are looking for contact with Dutch people and fortunately, there was a lot of enthusiasm within our club," said Dijkhuizen. The club coach led some football exercises and fun games and finished with a match that included all participants and volunteers.

Most of the participants, in their 20‘s and 30's, came to Delft from Syria. "I spoke with a guy who was in his last year of his law education at his local university before he had to leave Syria," said Dijkhuizen. "They all had their own story." One participant said that he would have been home by himself if this activity wouldn’t have been organized. Dijkhuizen said he felt it was a good opportunity for them to get out and they seemed to enjoy it very much.

Organisers felt it was a successful event and the club is already talking about planning another in the fall. "The volunteers enjoyed it, the participants enjoyed it and I even saw some people exchanging phone numbers so they could play some matches at some other time," said Dijkhuizen. "But I hope even more that other clubs will start organising these kind of activities. I guess there are around 85 sports clubs in Delft and if all of them would organise an event like this, there would be two activities per week for refugees to get out of their house, meet Dutch people and improve their Dutch speaking."