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Dhaka Tribune

Paris Saint-Germain, Friendship, Klabu to introduce sports club centres in Rohingya camps

The initial goal is to reach 10,000 refugee and host community children, and their family members

Update : 27 May 2021, 05:31 PM

The Paris Saint-Germain Endowment Fund, Friendship, and Klabu on Thursday announced a groundbreaking multi-year project where they will build sport Club Centres for thousands of refugee and host community young people.

The project, which has now been in the works for almost two years, aims to unlock the power and joy of sport through community-driven projects, which will be kicked off at the single largest refugee camp in the world at Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, reports a press release.

Kickoff in Cox’s Bazar

This first phase aims to be launched this autumn in partnership with the distinguished Bangladeshi NGO Friendship, which runs healthcare and education programs for the Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi host community children, reads the statement. 

Over a million Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority, have been forcibly displaced from Myanmar in successive waves of violence since the early 1990s and they almost half of this population are children. The projects Club Centre has been co-designed by partner Solarkiosk and will be implemented by friendship and Klabu under the supervision of Solarkiosk.

In addition, Friendship, Klabu and the Paris Saint-Germain Endowment Fund will also deliver an innovative mobile sport library solution that will widen the reach across refugee camps and share the power and joy of sport with the larger community.

Defined by spirit

The Paris Saint-Germain Endowment Fund is the charitable arm of the preeminent sport club in France, and Klabu (Swahili for club), is a Dutch social start-up which provides access to sport in refugee camps.

They are taking this initiative with the support of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

They will finance these initiatives through social enterprise, creating sport kits for the world to wear.

Also Read: Rohingya cultural memory centre launched

Their product collection is available in Paris Saint-Germain and Klabu stores and on their website www.klabu.org. 

Today, more than 80 million people have been forced to flee their homes globally, of whom almost half are children. 

The initial goal is to reach 10,000 refugee and host community children, and their family members in Cox’s Bazar, adds the release.

The Club Centres, managed by the local community, work as sport libraries, providing access to sport kits and equipment. Children can participate in training sessions and tournaments, watch sport matches together, and enjoy gaming and online connectivity. 

In short, the centres are safe spaces where young people and their family members can develop physically and emotionally, by finding relief from their hardships and pleasure in the practice of sport.

The launch is supported by a global awareness campaign titled “Defined By Spirit” to get people to look beyond the traditional narrative of hardship and dependency in refugee crises.

“Through this project we look to build on the already extensive humanitarian efforts the club has undertaken overseas. Together with Klabu, UNHCR and other partners, we hope to give a portion of the 80 million who are fleeing from challenging circumstances a sense of relief and of belonging,” said Paris Saint-Germain Chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

Also Read: UN: Israel's attacks on Gaza may constitute war crimes

“UNHCR is pleased to collaborate in this project to help young refugees participate in sport activities and strengthen social cohesion with their host communities. Sport gives refugee youth a chance to heal, to be protected and to develop their skills,” said Paolo Artini, UNHCR’s representative in France.

Klabu founder Jan van Hövell added: “It is a dream come true to bring together Paris Saint-Germain with thousands of boys and girls admiring the team. This joint effort with refugee communities reduces the isolation of young overlooked people connecting them with the world at large, through their club, their pride, their Klabu.”

Going global

Following the first phase at Cox’s Bazar, Klabu, the Paris Saint-Germain Endowment Fund and UNHCR will work to potentially expand into other parts of the world.

Runa Khan, founder and executive director of Friendship: “We thank the Paris Saint-Germain Endowment Fund, Klabu, and UNHCR for taking this initiative, which will not only promote mental wellbeing of Rohingya children but also help them recover from stress and traumatic experiences they have been through.”

Thomas Rieger, co-founder and CEO of Solarkiosk: “We are happy and proud to be part of this truly impactful project and enable and empower young refugees with our solar solutions which are tailored for remote and off-grid areas worldwide.”

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