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03.09.2019 - News

Back to school for children… and time to resume the season for Roman Bürki!

Back-to-school time goes hand in hand with the start of new football season for our ambassador and Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Bürki. During his holidays he went to Romania to see our projects for vulnerable families. Here are some photos of his visit:

We are in Piatra Olt, 200 km west of the capital Bucharest. It is a small town in one of the poorest regions in Romania. To improve the livelihoods of children and families of the Roma community as well as of other vulnerable groups, Terre des hommes (Tdh) uses sport as a tool to promote inclusion.

Footballer Roman Bürki, one of Tdh’s ambassadors, takes part in the sporting activities organised by our teams. In this project, Tdh trained teachers in multicultural education and created an after-school programme for all children in the community, which includes sports and games activities. This led to higher school attendance of Roma children and their better inclusion, while sports activities helped all children to develop skills such as team spirit and cooperation.

The girls and boys take a chance to measure themselves against their idol and to chat with him. During the game, Roman encourages his team-mates and celebrates all the goals scored. Roman’s message to the children after the match is: “Have fun with your team-mates! If you have fun, then you are motivated to improve. The most important thing is to believe in yourself!”

“It makes me really glad to be able to bring them a bit of happiness and to enjoy great moments with them”, says Roman.

Terre des hommes also makes use of football as a tool to support the integration of refugee children and to encourage social inclusion. Therefore, after Piatra Olt, Roman Bürki goes to a school in Bucharest, the capital city. Here, classes welcome local children as well as young refugees mainly from Syria, Iraq and Iran. Pervi, a 12-year-old girl from Syria came to Romania with her mother and sister five years ago. “I made very good friends in Romania and we play together, including football and basketball,” she tells us in fluent Romanian.

The youngsters enjoyed this unique opportunity to meet with and even to play together with the goalkeeper of Borussia Dortmund. The 12-year-old Hydara adds: “I felt great during the games, because I basically played with one of my favourite football players.”

While Roman Bürki is back on the soccer field with his team-mates in Dortmund, the children in Romania will long remember the visit of this famous footballer.

The visit of our ambassador also marked the start of a new project, promoting the need to keep children safe in sports and preventing the abuse of children who practice sports. “There are several forms of abuse that children can be subjected to: physical, sexual or psychological abuse, as well as neglect. We need to think about children practicing any sport at any level, from any social or cultural background, including those with special needs. Everyone has the same right to be protected,” says Kirsten Theuns, Tdh Delegate for Eastern Europe. And Bürki concludes: “We have to take care of children and give them a space where they can speak about problems. It is our duty, because, as role models, our voice might be louder than theirs.”

In 2018, over 12,000 children and their families benefited from Terre des hommes’ projects in Romania. You can learn more about our work here.


Photo credit: ©Tdh/Petrut Calinescu