Under the heading 'We are supehero girls here: how football is helping Lebanon's refugees', the journalist Suzanne Wrack, expert in women's football at the prestigious newspaper tells how the 'FutbolNet' programme is working on topics of integration and respect and tolerance. The report highlights the the efforts being made to promote training for coaches as well as inclusion for women - who now represent 30% of all those taking part - in the programme's activities.
Wrack, who travelled with the Barça Foundation to the Bekaa Valley, near to the border with Syria, talks to various figures involved, amongst them Karime Akrouche, a 'FutbolNet' coach who tells her: "The boys don't accept the idea of playing with girls. I showed them that they could play to challenge the stereotype that exists about what a footballer should be. I resolved the situation creating and training a team just with female players and we organised a game with boys' team coached by a man. Do you know who won the final? The team of girls. So that's how we brought the problem to an end. We showed them that girls can play and that helped them start to be accepted."
The article also brings to attention how since 2016 more than 1,300 boys and girls have been able to take part in the sessions organised in different places in the valley. Of them, some 70% are refugees. Furthermore, the 'FutbolNet' ideology has also been incorporated into the sporting programmes of various schools in the country, reaching more than 6,000 children, 75% of which are of Lebanese origin and 25% of Syrian origin.
40% of coaches in 'FutbolNet' in the region are women who put into practice the methodology amongst groups of girls. For some of them it is the only chance to take part in sport. The programme contributes to normalising the role of women in training and leadership in an area where still exist important barriers relating to equality and the presence of women in sport.
Since 2016 the Barça Foundation have been working the Bekaa Valley the 'FutbolNet' the social and educational programme destined a promoting emotional welfare and the inclusion of the most vulnerable young people. The programme helps to integrate refugees into the local Lebanese community and it is also being carried out in Greece and in Southern Italy.