Diversity and inclusion celebrated at youth camp in Croatia

Over 160 youth from different minority groups met on Tuesday 24 May to participate in the fifth edition of the Croatian Football Association (HNS) National Minorities Football Camp, an initiative launched in 2014 to promote football as a tool for tolerance and inclusion for Roma children.

Aged between 7 and 16, the mixed group of boys and girls of different national ethnic minorities participated in football activities and workshops aimed at addressing topics including gender equality, anti-discrimination and anti-violence.

The semi-annual initiative, held in Čakovec, was organised in partnership with the Fare member Svjetska Organizajica Roma UBorbi Protiv DiskrimacjieRAS, a Roma association that uses football to promote the empowerment of Roma people in Croatia.

It is estimated that between 30,000 and 60,000 Roma live in Croatia. In February, an Amnesty International report said that "social exclusion of and discrimination against Roma remained widespread" in Croatia. The claim was backed by a Human Rights Watch report which warned about the segregation of Roma children in the education system.

In his opening speech, HNS president Davor Šuker recognised the work of local organisations in challenging discrimination and said:

"I congratulate all of those who daily help national ethnic minorities on their work for an equal society for all. The HNS will always maintain a good working relationship with organisations that work with minorities".

Šuker also acknowledged the increasing number of girls participating in the tournament each year as an outcome of the federation's work to promote the participation of girls in football and encourage the growth of the women's game.

"Both boys and girls play football and its is our goal to help boost the interest and opportunities for girls in football.

"We want to continue pushing the boundaries of women's football in Croatia and we know this is a long-term project, but we believe it will help improve women's football".

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