- The activity is one of the sports included in the European BRIDGES programme for social inclusion taking place in Tortosa since 2020.
- Pupils from Remolins and La Mercè schools have participated in the activity which was adapted to the new health and safety requirements.
- Tortosa city council and the Unió de Consells Esportius de Catalunya (UCEC) are the Catalan representatives of this European initiative to promote social cohesion.
Tortosa, 15 April 2021 – At the start of 2020 Tortosa city council and the Unió de Consells Esportius de Catalunya sports organization (UCEC) took on the role of representing Catalonia in the European project BRIDGES; a project for the promotion of inclusive communities in Europe and helping local groups in Tortosa become more integrated in society through volunteer work and sports and cultural activities. However, the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown brought many activities to a halt, while others managed to adapt to the new health and safety requirements and were able to continue or restart.
Among activities which have been able to eventually take place this year with all the necessary precautions and measures, futsal (similar to five-a-side football) has started up again with the participation of pupils from Remolins and La Mercè schools and organized by the Tortosa Futsal Club. “One of the most important roles of our sport club is its social work. As coordinator of the club and following the objectives of our board, we are pleased to offer any social help we can to local society. Participating in this activity gives us a feeling of satisfaction, especially as it means working with children,” explains Cisco Folqué, coordinator of Tortosa Futsal Club.
The activity was carried out keeping pupils within their class groups following health guidelines. Pupils showed a great interest in the activity despite the interruptions to the calendar due to the pandemic. “We asked the pupils taking part in the activity if they would like us to organize matches where both schools could meet and play together and they all said yes. We are pleased to feel we are doing a good job if the youngsters want to continue participating in the project,” added Folqué.
One of the key points of the BRIDGES project is just this: the social cohesion and community involvement that the activities promote. In fact, all the pupils who took up the project at the start of 2020 chose to continue when the activity was restarted in 2021. “When you set up an out-of-school activity like this, they all want to join in. They love the social contact with other youngsters, the relations and cultural exchanges, and to forget for a while about any social or economic difficulties they may be experiencing at home,” explains Folqué.
As the futsal coordinator points out, the children participating in the project probably cannot afford the fees required to join other sport clubs but BRIDGES offers them this opportunity to play a sport. “In some cultures, they don’t allow girls to play football, but when we do it through the school, this problem ceases to exist. At the two schools taking part in the project there is a mixture of different cultures which could be problematic but carrying out activities like this together shows the children that they are all equal and can get on well together.”
To this end, the BRIDGES project has been a useful tool for social cohesion and interculturality through its three aspects – voluntary work, and sporting and cultural activities. It has also developed a sense of solidarity and respect among the participants. “Our aim is for a society where everyone is equal and enjoys the same opportunities. Projects like BRIDGES help us to move in this direction. If you can help out in schools in marginal neighbourhoods, to help children get on better together, this also makes it easier for parents to integrate and interact between social and cultural groups. It all promotes social cohesion in these neighbourhoods and, obviously, in all the town,” points out Folqué.
Oscar Pla and Ana Moreno
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