Blog: “We are in central Madrid fighting stereotypes, hate speech and heavy policing; our work shows inclusion is possible”

Dolores Galindo leads the communications work at Dragones de Lavapiés, in Madrid, Spain. Dolores writes for Fare about their involvement in the #FootballPeople weeks.

"This October we are launching the second edition of the Museo Nacional de Antropología Cup, an event gathering together football teams from different backgrounds, with different ages, sex and other characteristics.

We will have mixed teams, girls under-16 teams, a Brazilian women's team, an African men's team, and people from very different Madrid districts. The idea is not only to play football but also bring young people from Lavapiés, which is the most ethnically diverse part of central Madrid, to the National Anthropology museum, allowing them to be part of the cultural life of the city.

A week later we will celebrate with a football-themed music festival: Afrojuice. The Spanish afrotrap group will host a concert alongside some of our coaches who are also musicians.

"All of them play football and share friendship with others from different backgrounds"

In our neighbourhood in Madrid people from all over the world live together, sharing public services and public spaces. There is a high degree of understanding and tolerance that we feel very proud of. And it manifests itself in the composition of our football teams.

We always take as an example the number of different nationalities of our families: more than 40, but we also have a wide diversity in levels of education and financial situation. We have women who lecture at universities, children from Venezuela or Syria, men who struggle to find jobs, young girls with learning disabilities who cannot finish their education - all of them play football in our teams and share friendships with others from different backgrounds, with different lives.

We are in the city centre, near museums and theatres, and so rising prices and the focus on tourism threatens our way of life. But that doesn’t stop people from immigrant backgrounds who continue coming to a neighbourhood that welcomes them openly.

We think that fear and demonisation has to be fought, and spaces need creating for people to meet and know each other. Public opinion also needs more positive portrayals of immigrants instead of the sensationalist news, stereotyping or hate speech we often see.

We have amongst us a small Moroccan community with people described by some media as "MENA" - Minors not Accompanied - (even though in many cases most are older than 18). Our new conservative political authorities in Madrid consider them one of the biggest problems in Spain, they are heavily policed, 24 hours a day. The idea that young Moroccans are to be feared is growing.

Last year we started a scheme with some organisations that work with the "MENA". A team of boys aged 15 to 17 joined us and reached the final of our league. We are showing that inclusion is possible.

We love being part of an international network like the #FootballPeople weeks. It builds our identity and makes us proud of our diversity, this same diversity that sometimes hurts when others don't accept us. We have shared the publicity for the weeks around our local area and its bright colours and vibrancy make us feel good."

The Football People weeks will take place from 10-24th October, with 150,000+ people taking part in Europe’s largest sports initiative for social change. You can still be a part of it and organise an activity. Learn more and register your activity here.

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