The Cyprus Olympic Committee organises a day of sport for child refugees
On 5 November, the Cyprus Olympic Committee (COC) organised a sports induction day with the support of several National Federations. Young refugees aged between 13 and 18 were able to try their hand at table tennis, judo, taekwondo, wrestling, basketball, athletics and football.
The number of sporting initiatives being launched for refugees continues to grow after the IOC created the Refugee Olympic Team for the Games in Rio last August, a move that won international acclaim. The latest initiative comes from the NOC of Cyprus – the Mediterranean island located just off the coast of Syria – which organised an induction day for more than 100 child and teenage refugees on Saturday 5 November.
Before taking their seats at the Nicosia football stadium to watch a friendly match, the youngsters had the chance to take part in activities and induction sessions in a number of disciplines, thanks to support from five sports federations (table tennis, judo, taekwondo, wrestling and basketball) and the national football and athletics teams.
COC President Dinos Michaelides welcomed the positive reception for the event. “It was a particularly enriching experience for all of us. The sheer joy, the obvious happiness that lit up the faces of the children really brought home what this day was all about.”
We’re going to do our best to encourage these young people not to give up their sporting dreams and help them try to build a better life through sport.Dinos Michaelides COC President
Mr Michaelides sees refugee integration as a priority. “Interacting with these youngsters and integrating them into Cypriot society is a vital issue, and we hope that, in organising this event, we’ve taken a small step in that direction.”
“We’re going to do our best to encourage these young people not to give up their sporting dreams and help them try to build a better life through sport,” he added.
The COC is planning to organise similar events and invite Tegla Loroupe, Chef de Mission of the Refugee Olympic Team in Rio, to visit schools and federations in Cyprus. The COC President hopes that this will “spread the message of friendship, respect and excellence.”
Mr Michaelides believes that familiarising young refugees with the Olympic values will prepare them for the challenges that lie ahead. “The Olympic family will stand by their side. We hope that every person who has been forced to leave their county will soon be able to find a safe haven. We will continue to support the initiative launched by the IOC and will do our best to help our fellow human beings.”