During an OSCE seminar on how to prevent racism, intolerance and hate crimes through sports, the leader of the Inclusion Project of the Norwegian football club Vålerenga, Tamseela Afzal, presented the club’s work in fighting intolerance and promoting integration through sports.
The seminar was the first of a series of four Supplementary Human Dimension Meetings arranged by the Irish OSCE Chairmanship and held at the Hofburg Conference Centre in Vienna. Here, representatives of NGO’s and civil society throughout the OSCE area gathered to share knowledge and exchange best practices.
- Vålerenga takes responsibility for its community. Rather than just observing, we choose to address the situation, Afzal said in her presentation during “Session II: Monitoring, Preventing and Responding to Hate Crimes, Racist Incidents, Intolerance and Discrimination, including in Sports”.
A wide range of projects
Vålerenga Football works along four programme areas: Integration, Work, Community and Inclusion.
The programme area Integration includes a football tournament for 5th to 7th grade pupils with a strong focus on fair play, good attitudes and inclusion. Vålerenga also has projects aimed at promoting girls’ participation in sports.
Integration in the labour market is a precursor for successful integration into society. Therefore, Vålerenga Football also runs work training projects for unemployed young people. The positive effects from these projects lead to the start of an employment training project for minority women and a similar project for drug-addicts, in order to increase their chances in the labour market.
Vålerenga Football co-operates with several actors in the community. To ensure the best possible follow-up, local schools and the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) are also involved in the projects.
The programme area Inclusion organizes leisure activities for children aged six to twelve. There are also special teams for disabled children and adults. The team for the blind players is called The Blind Stars.
Tackling the problems where they occur
The professional players of Vålerenga Football also contribute to the work, visiting hospitalized children and inviting them and their families to watch home games. The poverty project helps include children from poor families in sporting activities.
Vålerenga Football runs a network café for minority women where lectures are held on topics ranging from health issues and family planning to the importance of physical activity. The aim of this project is to strengthen the women’s self-confidence and to encourage them to apply for jobs and contribute to their community.
- The feedback has been exclusively positive, says Tamseela Afzal. – Vålerenga Football is well known for taking responsibility and tackling the problems where they occur.
The aim of Vålerenga Football is making Oslo a better place to live for all its’ inhabitants.
- We will continue in the same spirit – taking measures where the need arises. All our community projects are built on that. It was a very nice experience to be able to present our work at the seminar here in Vienna, says Afzal.
- But the best feedbacks we get are the smiling faces at our events and the support from the community around us.
Vålerenga Football has received several awards for its work in the field of corporate social responsibility. In 2011, the club’s work training programme “Jobbsjansen” was nominated to the award for the best project run by a European football club.