Posted in The Hippo on October 1, 2015. Written by LNH's Executive Director, Steve Reno
Daily, we watch the plight of refugees from the Middle East, Africa, and further afield, fleeing war and seeking safe harbor in Europe. Yes; they are hoping for a country that will take them in and give them shelter. But not far down the list of needs is that of being offered a community in which to live, especially one that will respect the traditions they carry with them while welcoming them to new ones.
The wisdom of the old bumper sticker -- “Think globally but act locally” – is being played out here in New Hampshire. It is the Inti Soccer Academy.
Daily, individuals and families are coming to our cities and towns. They come from Latin America, Somalia, Burundi, Congo, Tanzania, Rwanda, Bhutan, Iraq, and Afghanistan. For some, the shelter they find here is a welcome change from a refugee encampment. With the help of the several resettlement programs, they begin to find their way, learning a new language, finding new foods, experiencing a very different climate, but for those children of such families, dealing with the challenge of negotiating a school, perhaps even for the first time in their lives, is huge.
Newness can be daunting – literally “unsettling” – and for many, there is a profound longing for something that is familiar, reminiscent of home. That’s where the Inti Soccer Academy plays a role. Recognizing that soccer is the lingua franca of most refugee and immigrant groups coming to our state, the Inti Academy, founded in 2009, offers these new residents in our community a place of reference.
As the Academy describes itself, “We use soccer as a ‘cultural hook’ to involve the players in a sport they love and then teach them to improve their English skills while exposing them to opportunities, including an art program, that will encourage them to develop and succeed.”
More than a third of Manchester’s school-age children are disadvantaged economically. In addition, many immigrant and refugee children struggle with more issues settling in than simply a new language, thus sometimes being at risk for other problems. They deserve a shelter, yes. They deserve a home; yes. But it is in the interest of us all that they be welcomed into our community.
That a sport is one way to help accomplish that is a measure we can all support.
The Inti Soccer Academy’s mission is that of “Brightening the lives of Manchester’s Inner City Youth. To find how more, go to www.intiacademy.orgIt will brighten your day as well.