Greece’s Pas Giannina breaks down social barriers with refugee initiatives

September 4 – Today Olympiacos FC is hosting a conference in partnership with Harvard University promoting football’s social responsibility, particularly in relation to refugees and other vulnerable groups. The Greek giants aren’t the only club in the country who believe that football has a social duty and ability to be a great equalizer.

Greek SuperLeague club Pas Giannina in Ioánnina, Western Greece, has embraced a solidarity and integration programme with refugee families in the Epirus region.

The initiatives have included working with UNHCR Spain, Athens and Ioannina offices last year to deliver football workshops and a solidarity match against a team of Barcelona veterans (the match was broadcast on Facebook Live). More than 350 refugee children participated in the workshops.

Last August, through REACTweb the club connected with the OneWorldPlay Project who donated 285 of their futbols for rough terrain. The club coordinated with UNHCR Ioánnina (and UNHCR Thessaloniki) to bring 180 refugee youth aged 10-20 from the sites and accommodations in the Epirus region to the PEAKI Stadium for football workshops.

“These were organised by Pas Giannina coaches and run in conjunction with the SuperLeague club’s youth players. For many players, this was their first experience of volunteering. For the participants it was an opportunity to interact with Greek youth who they will see in their classrooms this September,” said Grace Christovasilis, CSR co-ordinator at Pas Giannina.

“As a club we have given 100 season tickets for all home games to a nearby orphanage for the last ten years. We are aiming to offer the same to refugee families in 2018,” said Christovasilis.

“If a regional soccer team in Greece, albeit in the SuperLeague, can accomplish this, imagine what can be done by the famous big name clubs in Europe and worldwide.”

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