European Life Goals Games

European Life Goals Games 960 720 our civic space

European Life Goals Games

In 2021, Hungary won the European Football Championship. A strong statement… We can all remember the memorable penalty shootout at Wembley, but it was fought by two teams and Hungary definitely wasn’t one of them. Still, the above statement is true: Hungary did win a football EuroCup this year.

How come that it is not all over the press? How is it possible that hardly anyone has heard of this?

The answer is simple: the above success has been reached by another Hungarian team, in another football EuroCup. Not in the Wembley stadium in London, but a light structural stadium at the Jaarbeursplein in Utrecht. Instead of large teams of 26 players much smaller teams of 8 played, on way smaller pitches.

However, in some ways, this little tournament is similar to its big brother. It is also played with a ball, for goals. Just like in our ‘big’ national team, some players come from migrant backgrounds, here, as well. In our case, this is true for half of the squad. Three Afghani and one Iranian player have also earned undying merits in the victory. It is a result of valuable professional work: coaches and players do their best to eliminate their faults by holding video analyses daily, while they do the same analysing their next day’s opponent. Just like on the highest level.

With the European Life Goal Games – as the name of the tournament suggests – sports performance is not the primary and exclusive measure of success. Street football tournaments provide an opportunity for athletes for whom sport serves to repair unfavourable, disadvantaged situations, in addition to maintaining health, and even more so.

But how does it all happen?
On the one hand, at the individual level. The majority of these players are either raised in children’s foster homes, or come from a migrant background, are/were homeless, or grow up within other disadvantageous conditions. Many people took a plane for the first time in their lives to attend the tournament. Regular physical activity is crucial for them, as it makes it easier for them to acquire life skills in a playful way that can serve them in academic achievements, being successful in the labor market, starting a family, and much more. Regular training, punctual arrival, and the necessary communication prior to each event actually all serve these purposes. In football, just like in other team sports in general, everyone has his/her unique role on the pitch. If a team wants to be successful, all team members must be individually aware of their roles. It is true the other way around as well: a team, where teammates are aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, is able to offset individual mistakes, so the team can be successful even if some players are having a bad day. Players have the opportunity to experience the power of community, within a short time, with a smaller stake. It is important to emphasise: when setting the lineup, football knowledge is not the primary selection criterion here, either. Diligence, reliability, “good behaviour” are at least as important.

It is important to highlight that each form of motion has its own set of rules that players need to accept and adhere to. Since Fairplay Football and Street Football – to name only two of the most important sets of rules used by the Oltalom Sport Association – are played by completely different rules, players can gain experience in adapting to different requirements during training and matches. And that teaches just the kind of flexibility one needs in a workplace, for example.

A sense of achievement is also important. It’s an uplifting, self-confidence-boosting experience when we are encouraged by hundreds from the stands, and we don’t even have to win a tournament or a match for this. Success on the pitch reinforces positive self-image and gives confidence to those who find it difficult to gain such experiences as a migrant or a youngster in care. In addition, the features of professional sports – suddenly came glory, astronomical salaries, too rapid improvement in living conditions – that so often ruin the careers and individual development of many talented young athletes do not appear in street football.

At the community level: In addition to developing the skills needed to thrive in life, another crucial goal of a sport-integration program is to build a community that provides participants with a solid base to continue. Although Hungary was represented only by a men’s team at the Dutch tournament, the training sessions of the association are attended by girls too, who prepare together with the boys, so the integration takes place not only on a social, and (inter)cultural, but also at the gender level.

Just as sports – a football game – can be seen as a modeled symbol of life on an individual level, so the team can be interpreted as a scaled-down copy of society. The team will be successful if the players have common goals and strategies and are willing and able to reach them together. This is how it works in the family, in the classroom, in the workplace. Moreover, this is precisely how it worked in Utrecht for a total of about 500 players from 22 participating teams. Teams had breakfast and dinner together every day; there, and at the accompanying programs of the tournament, players got the opportunity to get to know each other in life situations completely different from the matches. Those who were still opponents on the pitch were already cheering each other from the stands the next day.

Operating, as a team: this is the field, in which Team Hungary made the biggest progress during the tournament. Players felt more and more confident from match to match on when to pass the ball further (subordination of individual aspects) and when to take the shot (take individual responsibility) for the sake of the team, even if it seemed risky. Individual mistakes were followed by encouragement from peers who experienced success and then winning the tournament as a shared experience.

At the organisational level: In addition to the individuals and the community involved in integration programs, there is a third player, less visible, mostly hidden in the background, albeit equally important, that should also be mentioned. The implementing organisation itself, together with its personal and material conditions. The members of the team that won the European Championship in Utrecht were athletes of Oltalom Sport Association. The organisation considers sport to be its primary channel of integration. In addition to the training sessions, OSA organises regular cultural programmes, thematic trainings, and scholarship programmes for its players.

Many of the players of the team with the youngest (17) average age of the tournament have been attending the association’s training sessions since their infancy, attending its camps, language classes, and other events. The organic development of the organisation is shown by the fact that the current head coach of the team was a player in similar tournaments a few years ago. In addition to the coach, a social worker is always present at the trainings; they can replace each other if necessary.

Such an international tournament is not only informative in terms of the team’s sport performance, but also shows whether the organisation is on the right track to fulfill its mission. From this point of view, the team’s ever-improving performance during the tournament, the ability of players to fight for each other, and finally winning the tournament are all encouraging signs. Especially considering that OSA does not have its own facility; it organises trainings in the cages of community parks and on rented pitches. The fact that there is no standard-sized street football pitch in Hungary was also a challenge in preparing for the street football tournament in the Netherlands. In the training sessions, they used tape to get the right size. While it is true that working in difficult conditions makes us stronger and more creative, a permanent location, a headquarters where other events can be held in addition to training, would be a major step forward for OSA.

Then, one day, maybe Hungary could win the European Football Championship at home. In the meantime, hats off to the Oltalom team that represented Hungary and won the tournament. Nice job!

Written by OSA



Football for Unity

Football for Unity 2560 1706 our civic space

Football for Unity

The Football for Unity programme of Oltalom Sport Association (OSA), supported by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the European Union, the Berlin-based Streetfootball world and UEFA, has set ambitious plans, aimed at serving multiple purposes. As an accompanying programme to the 2020 UEFA Football Eurocup, the project used the widespread interest in the event to draw attention to the increasing xenophobia in Hungary and to provide a possible solution method.

One of the most important goals of the programme was to provide disadvantaged Hungarian and migrant youth with opportunities for health-preserving exercise and provide them with the possibility to get to know each other. The Hungarian government’s anti-migrant policy in recent years alongside the conceptual intimidation have had their effects: racist, xenophobic, homophobic and generally extreme, violent acts are becoming more and more common in Hungary, even among young people. One of the most effective means of preventing and reducing these phenomena is sport, where host and migrant communities can get to know each other in a playful way. They can experience that they have much more in common with those from the other end of the world than they thought they would.

Another important objective of the programme was to bring together local stakeholders, non-governmental organisations and municipalities that are also involved in the above phenomena, so that they could find a solution to the related problems together.

The methodological background of the sports integration programme was provided by Football3, a football-based game played by co-educated teams, for three halves. The methodology of Football3 makes it suitable for responding effectively to various social problems. An important goal of the programme was to train mediators, who are indispensable in Football3 matches. In Football3, instead of referees, mediators follow the events of the matches; their role is at least as important as that of the referee in a traditional football match. The increase in the number of mediators has a multiplier effect that allows more frequent events of a similar nature to be organised in the future.

These were the closing events of the programme for the past year:

  • 17/06/2021 – Youth forum: at the event, which included a short workshop, the professionals participating in the program, some members of the target group and other interested parties shared their experiences and ideas about the possible future role of the program.
  • 18/06/2021 -Football for Inclusion Tournament: In 9 districts of the capital, a total of 54 teams and more than 500 players competed according to the rules of Football3.
  • 20/06/2021 – Awareness Raising Festival: The winners of the district league competed with each other in the City Park, which serves as a fan zone during the European Championship.

Written by OSA


The Femtalks Forum

The Femtalks Forum 1600 1066 our civic space

The Femtalks Forum

Theatre activities and Digital Storytelling to Empower Migrant Women, Foster Social Inclusion and Change narratives

FemTalks Forum aims to combine different training methodologies into a single highly blended learning program for the development of female migrants. Enabling women to acquire new skills, strengthen their self-confidence and self-efficacy. Participants then have the opportunity to master the practical application of what they have learned using an innovative digital sharing platform.

Using this learning programme, FemTalks Forum intends to help female migrants increase their employability and social inclusion and provide them with additional support for further development.

The cooperation gathers 7 organisations from six different countries, like Inova Consultancy from the United Kingdom, Elan Interculturel from France, Matera Hub and #reteteatro41 from Italy, InterAct from Austria, Odysee from Belgium, and Artemisszió Foundation from Hungary. The partners executed different workshops in the field of group coaching, Forum Theatre, and digital storytelling, online and offline, adapting the opportunities to the pandemic context.

In Hungary, Artemisszió Foundation realised the learning programme, which consisted of two coaching and two online theatre processes and several online creative short workshops that targeted female migrants, living in Hungary and in the cases of the online workshops, female migrants from all around the world.

This is how participants of the events recall their experiences:

“To express my emotions during the week was so healing for me – I feel younger than before.”

“Never give up – to see different interventions helps you imagine solutions in your own life.”

“Some specific exercises helped me to regulate my anger.”

“Releasing the voice and expressing ideas through language allows us to release the emotions and feelings. This is especially important in the first three years in a new country when everything feels somehow stuck.”

“After this intensive week, and especially after the performance, I feel more open and confident towards my surroundings and able to face difficult situations at public authorities.”

Webpage: https://femtalksforum.eu/

Storysharing platform: https://platform.femtalksforum.eu/

Contact person: Anna Végh, anna.vegh@artemisszio.hu

Written by OSA

The Hungarian Sports Day!

The Hungarian Sports Day! 500 331 our civic space

The Hungarian Sports Day!

On the 6th of May, 1875, Magyar Atlétikai Club (MAC) organized the first outdoor sports competition of the continent in Margaret Island, in Budapest. The athletes were competing in athletics and boxing at that event. In memory of this, Hungarian Sports Day is still celebrated on this day every year.

One of the oldest pictures ever taken from the Magyar Atlétikai Club.

In the 1870s, doing sport on a regular basis was common only among aristocrats, so initially, MAC also catered primarily to their needs. Over time, this situation has changed a lot. Today, the players of Oltalom Sport Association (OSE) also train and compete regularly in the stadium, as it is still in use!

A more recent picture of the Magyar Atlétikai Club shows there have been some major alterations over time.

Written by OSA

Karantréning every day! – An alternative exercise programme of the Oltalom Sport Association during quarantine

Karantréning every day! – An alternative exercise programme of the Oltalom Sport Association during quarantine 1280 1023 our civic space

Karantréning every day! – An alternative exercise programme of the Oltalom Sport Association during quarantine

At OSA, like many other partners, for the time of the mandatory quarantine we are forced to suspend one of our most important activities: football training sessions. Nevertheless, we found a way to not only keep in touch with our players, but also give them the training experience: we moved these events to the online space!

The Budapest-based Oltalom Sports Association started to practice sports as a personality-shaping, therapeutic activity in 2005. One of the cornerstones of our activity is our football training held in the capital and in other locations in the countryside on a weekly basis. In addition to educating children about a healthy lifestyle, regular sport also offers useful leisure activities for players lacking stability and regularity in their life.

With the mandatory quarantine and the precautionary measures introduced in the meantime, we were unable to continue our training sessions. At the same time, our goal was to maintain and even improve the physical and mental health of our players. To this end, we have created our “Karantréning” programme, during which we run an online exercise programme six days a week, led and moderated by coaches represented by our own and some external organisations.

Those who want to practice sport can join us through the online video room we have created. We welcome not only our certified players, but everyone interested. Led by a trained coach as well as a social worker, our trainings run for an average of 40-45 minutes. As we also teach participants new exercises and movement elements, we considered it important that in addition to the coach presenting the exercises, our social worker also participates in the session, in order to give feedback on the correct implementation of the exercises and possible areas of improvement.

To achieve our goal, in line with the spirit of civic space, we have created a platform on which the transfer and education of different approaches and working methods – from strength training and ball exercises to yoga practices – become accomplishable. In order to create as diverse training opportunities as possible, we provided our players with various sports equipment, such as fitness rubber bands.

For this purpose we have involved some of our partners, including the German Brandenburgische Sportjugend, the Czech Fotbal Pro Rozvoj and the Indian Slum Soccer, with whom we have been cooperating for many years in various projects. In addition, Ádám Szabados, a football freestyler, Hungarian champion and a world record holder football juggler, also held trainings with us.

The number of participants usually ranges from 5 to 15. For many of them, the accuracy and regularity of the exercises were significantly improved. In addition, thanks to strength training, the amount of exercises performed has also increased. One of the key members of the participants, Orsolya Katzer, also commented on the online training: “I really enjoy quarantine training for two reasons. Almost every night instructors and training associates “move” into my living room for an hour, helping me to get through this hard period. In addition, with a variety of exercises I am able to keep my body and soul in shape.”

When our “OSE Quarantine” programme was launched, we tested various video chat applications, looking for the most suitable one for our programme. In addition to high quality, it was expected that the social worker would be able to turn participants’ microphones on and off – so that they could hear constructive feedback from the social worker on how to perform their movements – and highlight the coach’s camera image.

After trying several apps, Google Meets proved to be the most convincing. We were pleased to find that our participants were open to different forms of motion, too, so we recommend everyone to incorporate yoga exercises into their workouts, in addition to strengthening exercises, and even hold a separate full-length yoga class!

From the very beginning of the coronavirus situation, we considered it a priority to preserve the physical and mental health of our players and to help them do sports at home. Our quarantine training programme is perfectly suited to achieve this goal.

Written by OSA