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Case Study No.2

Volunteering and sport: how to create new connections




Key words

Active citizenship, intercultural exchange, anti-discrimination, anti-racism, volunteering, social inclusion, sport for inclusion


This case study was inspired by true stories retrieved from the online campaign Community Heroes, developed as part of the Erasmus+ project Rethink Before Act. Learn more:

The case study also took inspiration from Niofar – Associazione dei giovani Senegalesi. Learn more:

School involved

Secondary School 

Detailed description of the situation

Chaga was 15 years old when he moved to Italy from Senegal with his father.  He was worried about the future but full of enthusiasm and big hopes for the new reality awaiting him. 

Yet, the first two months were very difficult: the school was closed, he did not speak Italian well and had no occasions to make new friends. He was spending most of the time at home, alone, while his father was at work. He just wanted to come back to his life.

When the school started, the teacher noticed immediately his closure. He did not want to talk neither to his classmates nor to the teacher. One month later, Chaga had not done any improvement.

Then, one day, the P.E. teacher arrived to the class with great news: there was the opportunity to join a football team of the school sport centre. A big smile appeared on Chaga’s face. Football, his passion! The team was an intercultural mix where any barrier, any difference was totally cancelled by a strong sense of cooperation and community, of mutual enrichment. But still the greatest change in his life had to arrive…

Now, Chaga is 17 years old, has many friends and has greatly improved his communicative and linguistic skills. The experience in the football team proved unique! It was there that he met Amir, another guy from Senegal, who introduced him to NIOFAR, a volunteering group formed by youngsters coming from Senegal, united by the idea that intercultural encounters and exchanges are the only effective means to live together, peacefully. The Association, NIOFAR (Palermo, Italy), has developed many initiatives to facilitate the inclusion of the migrant community, including: lessons on Senegalese culture, Italian language lessons, meetings with schools to foster discussions about immigration. 

Chaga will never forget his home country, Senegal, but now he has found a second home here in Palermo and does not want to come back and this is mainly thanks to sport and volunteering!

What would you do in similar situations? 

Share your ideas and suggestions on TEACHmi online Forum!

Here are few questions for self-reflection:

  • Are you informed about the interests and passions of your students?

  • How can you stimulate their interest in society?

  • Are you informed about volunteering opportunities in your city?

  • What competences do you need to develop?

Initial reaction

Chaga was full of enthusiasm to discover a new reality. But this new reality was overwhelming for him. He had no contact with other youngsters and was always alone at home, because his father had to work the whole day. He missed his sister and grandmother, as well as his friends in Senegal. 

Thus, he adopted a negative attitude: he was hopeless and nostalgic. Once at school, the situation worsened, mainly due to his scarce knowledge of Italian. He noticed that the other students were already friends and was too shy to ask for help. 

The teachers did not understand the challenges he was encountering and did not want to invade his space. They discussed this situation all together and decided to leave him some time to adapt to this new context. Yet, the sport education teacher came up with another idea: why not we try to include him in the football team?

Suggested solution

  • Get interested in your students: try to discover their passions

  • Use teamwork activities to facilitate inclusion in the new context

  • Propose buddy systems and mentoring activities to support newcomers

  • Illustrate all the different extra-curricular opportunities

  • Discuss with your students about problems related to the local context and possible ways to intervene 

  • Use sport to overcome differences, foster inclusion and active participation 

  • Topic 3 of this toolbox, which focuses on cultural differences, offers practical examples to overcome similar issues.

Why is this case-study relevant?

Curiosity and interest in your students are essential to support them in the proper way, but remember to respect their privacy. This case study offers an example to reflect over possible ways to foster your students’ inclusion and active participation in society. These two elements are strictly interconnected and reinforce each other.

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