Sport is an important tool in combatting poverty – Friendly football tournament in Brussels

Four European amateur football teams participated in the Football4Friendship tournament in Brussels today at the invitation of MEP Lívia Járóka to raise awareness of the prominent role of sports in combatting poverty and in the formation of European identity.

Hungarian MEP Lívia Járóka organized a four-team amateur football tournament in Brussels, in the framework of the European Year of Citizens. Amateur players from Sopron, town in western Hungary, former professional footballers, officials of EU institutions and Roma immigrants of Belgium have competed at the contest named Football4Friendship. According to MEP Lívia Járóka, rapporteur of the EU strategy on Roma inclusion and organizer of the tournament, the aim of the contest was to raise awareness of the role of sports in fighting poverty, as well as of the importance of promoting a healthy lifestyle and developing a positive sense of identity.

According to the MEP, the participation of the most disadvantaged communities in sport activities and their access to related facilities is way below the average, although their higher involvement in competitive or mass sport would not only improve their physical and mental health but would also serve as an effective tool for social inclusion and education. Járóka emphasized that the extension of the sport sector could also function as an employment creation factor, particularly in disadvantaged regions and that the full access to sport should not only be viewed as a matter of leisure, but as a social service of general social and economic interest. Promoting the participation of disadvantaged children in competitive or mass sports, as well as their training and education for an active life could therefore be an investment which positively affects several field of life at the same time – Járóka added.