YEN at the EUROPEADA 2016

The EUROPEADA 2016 has ended! From the 18th till the 26th of June this event took place in South Tyrol – a football championship for 30 autochthonous, national minority teams, who arrived from all over Europe. For the first time there was also a woman’s tournament, which attracted special attention.

The EUROPEADA gathered not only fans, journalists, locals and volunteers, but also international politicians, artists, representatives of FUEN and of course participants of the YEN Media Camp. The organizer of the football tournament was the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) and it was hosted by the Ladin minority and also the German-speaking South Tyroleans, who had won the Europeada title in the previous two tournaments in 2012 and 2008. And yet again, the South Tyrolean men’s and women’s team went home victorious.

The YEN Media Camp was based in Sand in Taufers/Campo Tures, located about 70 kilometers northeast of Bozen/Bolzano, in the Taufers valley. This wonderful place, surrounded by snowy Dolomite mountain peaks and intercut by a rushing river, was an inspiration both for YENies and the Aromanian football team from Romania, with which the participants of the Media Camp shared the hotel.

During the EUROPEADA we visited Ahrntal/Valle Aurina, Mühlwald/Selva dei Molini, Sankt Martin in Thurn/San Martin de Tor, Olang/Valdaora and other venues of this tournament.  Here we ran actions to inform spectators, teams and fans about the importance of minority rights and the preservation of minority culture and also to raise awareness about issues that these minorities face. Of course we also presented YEN and the organisation’s aims for the future.

Our campaign #DiveristyConnects played a big role in this: during and after the football matches we handed out postcards, stickers and balloons, and we also organised crossword and quiz games for the many children and fans that were present. Our participants made new friends by mingling with the spectators and generally enjoyed the good atmoshpere during the EUROPEADA. These good vibes were mostly due to the magnificent fans, who had made the long journey all the way to South Tyrol, to support not only their own, but also the other teams.

Our YEN Media Team was of course present to interview, film and photograph fans, players, spectators and residents. The results you can watch on YouTube: (Minority Story part 1) (Minority Story part 2) (Minority Story part 3)

The whole week we waited eagerly for the friendly footbal match between FC YEN and the team of refugees located in South Tyrol. We of course gave our best, but had to see how our opponents were usually faster, more agile and also how they made life more hard for our goalie. Thankfully everyone knew the true spirit of sportsmanship, and the teams were mixed in the second half (which was mostly an advantage for the losing FC YEN team). Even though we usually didn’t speak each other’s language, we did notice that shouting for the ball and helping each other stand up after a fall is pretty much universal. The end result was 5:2 for the refugee team, but more importantly, we showed that football unites and diversity in fact does connect.

The EUROPEADA was a unique experience for us, the YENies. We gained new skills in the field of teamwork, media and campaigning, found new friends and learned more about other minorities from all over Europe. In the context of our campaign #DiversityConnects, which highlights mutual respect, understanding and peaceful coexistence we handed trophies at the closing ceremony to the Sorbian women’s team and Nordschleswig man’s team for their fair play during the tournament.

As a conclusion we would like to say that we all together, namely the FUEN and YEN members, hosts, football players, spectators and volunteers all won a match against prejudices, discrimination and stereotypes, by which they showed that diversity, a peaceful get-together and respect is unifying idea.

We thank the Federal Ministry of the Interior of the Federal Republic of Germany for sponsoring the YEN Media Camp.

More photos: click here