When sports becomes more than just a fun activity…

Fighting off despair and death each single day is the reality of millions of individuals whose own country is being besieged and devastated. If lucky enough to survive a perilous journey, the future of these people might still be flickering like a candle in the wind. The trauma of detaching oneself abruptly from one’s own country, home, job, school, friends and family is already extensive. Additionally, refugees continue to experience a number of difficult situations once they arrive in a safer place.

Life at the camp site is not blissful presenting challenges for everyone. Basic facilities like food, water, hygiene and shelter might not always meet the demand. Personal space becomes an issue since families have to be cramped together in tents in order to accommodate everyone. Various elements such as: cultural traditions, beliefs, and attitudes are mingled in a contained space which sometimes might lead to issues of intolerance.

All of these adverse situations are continuously loading more stress on the lives of refugees. It is well known that stress leads to poor mental health. Bereavement, fear, anger, disappointment, helplessness, uncertainty and worries are part of the emotional melange which has to be endured by these refugees.  Moreover, only a few tasks and events are present at the refugee camp leaving many refugees idle for hours on end. Thus these individuals have limited space and opportunities to recreate themselves in positive and destressing activities.

The aim of this sports project is to encourage these refugees to participate together in engaging and stimulating activities and focus their mind on new techniques. Studies have shown that physical exercise and sports can help the body to generate ‘happy’ hormones – Endorphins, dopamine and serotonin, making the person training feel good and happy. Moreover exercise can also help in reducing negative hormones such as cortisol, which therefore reduces the psychological stress as well as unpleasant emotional states. Sports also might prevent certain mental conditions such as:  anxiety, depression, obsessions and post-traumatic stress disorders.

Sports helps individuals to discover abilities which they were not aware before or might never had the opportunity to develop. One feels empowered when he/she is able to accomplish a task or activity, which in turn boosts one’s self esteem. The element of competition also serves to induce more effort and motivation and pushes people forward to keep on persevering, practising and sharpening one’s abilities.

Finally and most importantly sports also leads to human interaction and communication. Team sports might serve individuals to meet and share common thoughts, interests and passions.  Even though each individual retains his/her identity, during games one learns how to tolerate and respect other cultures and traditions and works in unison as a team.

Therefore engaging in sports is a celebration for diversity and unity for human beings to cherish.

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