Last July, we received funding to roll out a pilot project we have entitled as ‘Club Welcome’, which is aimed at increasing participation in sport on the part of those from refugee/ asylum seeker backgrounds.
Club Welcome promotion poster
To date, we have clubs in Dublin, Laois, Limerick, Sligo and Westmeatn participating and each are at different stages. Initially, we established a stakeholder group to advise us on how best to engage in the programme. Attending the meeting were representatives from sports governing bodies, local sports partnerships and refugee groups too. Arising from this meeting, a rough plan of engagement was developed to oversee the implementation of the programme.
In response to the circulation of the poster promoting the programme, we received expression of interest forms and informal inquiries from accommodation centres, people working with asylum seekers and from asylum seekers themselves.
We then met with clubs and potential participants in each location, Athlone, Clonakilty, Clondalkin, Laois and Sligo to discuss how the programme would work in each area. Each programme has a different plan because clubs are different and the accommodation centres are different. Some have large numbers of children such as Clondalkin and Athlone, while others have only adults such as Clonkilty and Emo in Co Laois, while Sligo have a mix of adult and children asylum seekers.
The club welcome programme is designed to recognise and award clubs for good practice in including refugees/ asylum seekers in their activities. It is envisaged that like the Green flag for schools, which awards schools who do things for the environment, the club welcome plaque will be presented at the conclusion of the club’s activities with refugees/ asylum seekers.
As part of the programme, we are allocating funds for each of the participating clubs to implement their activities. Finance for the clubs is important we believe because finance is a crucial barrier to participation in sport.