The words of Mario, 28 years of age, a companion originally from Romania and who has been at the Emmaus Norges community since March 2011:
“I like organising and participating in events in the community. I wanted to find an activity we could do together which would motivate the young people in the community and I came up with the idea of forming an indoor football team. The community leaders agreed with the idea and supported me.
To start with I asked the companions if they were interested, then I found a location and we have since played many times. Nobody knew the rules so we learnt as we went along, little by little. I noticed that there were regular matches being played at the centre so I asked one of the people running the centre how it all worked and he explained that there was a league for companies.
I thought it would be a good idea to set up an Emmaus team to show the general public that visits our community that we’re not “alcoholics, drug users and thieves” and that people are capable of sharing something and working together”.
The team is an international one with many different countries represented: France, Romania, Mongolia, Armenia, Africa and even Peru!
The team has played in several tournaments including one organised during the football World Cup where each team from the league represented a country. The Emmaus team represented Brazil and won the award for fair play! The group leaders and the other companions congratulated us as it was the best prize we could have won!
After the World Cup Mario decided to organise an Emmaus cup with all of the French groups (the communities, Friends Committees and Emmaus work integration social enterprises) as well as (why not?) groups from elsewhere in Europe. The goal was to show that we are capable of organising things just as well as other people from outside. Emmaus is not just a place where people are welcomed in and given work but it is also about showing that people are capable of sharing something, of living together as a community.
By organising the tournament and by talking about it, Emmaus will be seen in a different light.
Every Friday evening the team, called ‘Another Emmaus’, has a training session in an indoor centre in Saint-Apollinaire. The players are between 16 and 50 years old.
Shorts and t-shirts with ‘Emmaus’ written on the back have been bought for the team.
We thought it was important that the women and girls of our community be involved in this project too as Mario wanted to put all the companions in the limelight.
A Zumba teacher convinced the girls (and it was not easy to convince them!) to dance in front of the entire assembly – the 1st year they opened the assembly with a cheerleading piece and for the 2nd year they danced to the song ‘On écrit sur les murs’.
The children of the community made a lovely wall covered with drawings about peace which they and the mothers and girls who didn’t want to dance presented during the dance.
Companions, staff and volunteers.
Lots of people are involved in organising the tournament and many also attend the event itself.
The following suppliers have provided us with financial support: Ets Lavaillotte, Ets Philippe, Peugeot, Tinocco et Iveco, Ekin Kebab, Assurance Générali, Crédit Mutuel, Davigel, Distripro, the bakeries ‘Comme 1 Chou’ and ‘le Paradis des Délices’, Fareco, Louvières farm, EURL Menuiserie, Richard Manutention and Ets Joyandet.
The town hall in Norges and the Conseil Départemental [County Council] worked with us for the 1st tournament.
We have received daily support from Urbansoccer football centres.
The Zumba teacher Ricardo was able to convince the girls to dance in front of the entire assembly.
Teams are about players, but they also need a bus driver, fans, a manager...
A proper team with Emmaus kits and cheerleaders!
Mario, a companion, formed the team.
The first training sessions took place.
We then participated in tournaments with teams from outside of Emmaus.
We signed up for the inter-company league.
14 May 2015: the 1st Emmaus tournament with Emmaus groups from across France.
5 May 2016: the 2nd edition of the Emmaus tournament.
2nd edition, 2016: The winning team was the community from Besançon
2nd place: Norges
3rd place: Mundolsheim
We want to continue organising this tournament but to “rotate” with other Emmaus groups and to provided with support from Emmaus France.
The 3rd edition, in 2017: it's official, Mundolsheim will be organising the next tournament on 25 May 2017.
At the beginning everyone looked at us in a funny way and we lost all the time!
But little by little we became more of a part of the league and we have even managed to win some games!
Conversations, sharing, meeting people, recognition, emotion, joy, tears and laughter…
We have spent some great moments with over 250 companions, volunteers and staff from all over France.
We have had many requests from other groups.
The public talk to us about the initiative at our sales.
There have also been articles written in the press.
We need support from Emmaus France as there is a lot of organisation involved in this and a lot of time and energy needs to be dedicated to it.
We would like the winner to organise the next event. The financial burden is quite significant but we need to find sponsors to help with this and that takes time.