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National partner profile: Greece

Diogenes NGO

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The Greek Homeless Football Team was set up in in 2006 and made its debut appearance at the 2007 Homeless World Cup. Diogenes NGO was founded in 2010 to coordinate the “Kick out Poverty” project as well as other activities aimed at supporting socially excluded people, and to continue the work of the Greek Homeless Football Team.

Based in Athens, but with activities also running in other parts of Greece, Diogenes NGO focus mainly on homeless people, people living below the poverty line, people in substance abuse rehabilitation, asylum seekers, and illegal immigrants. The organisation coordinates a football programme for these groups, as well as other activities, under the umbrella of the “Kick out Poverty” (Goal sti Ftohia) project, which encourages social inclusion through sport. Additionally, they aim to raise public awareness of the issue of homelessness and to promote active involvement in activities that combat social exclusion.

In 2011, they organised their first national tournament in the city of Patra with teams from eight different cities. Since then, they have been actively organising and participating in many national and international football events. Their team also participate in the local amateur league, which facilitates interaction with people who are not homeless in an environment characterised by equality and fair play, thereby promoting inclusion in the community.

In 2014, their programme was selected as one of the top three programmes in FIFA’s global “Power of Football” competition. Members of FIFA.com nominated a person or organisation they believed should be rewarded for their efforts in trying to make a positive impact through the power of football and three finalists were chosen by FIFA judges (FIFA, 2014).

Diogenes NGO also publish the street paper “Shedia.” It is operated, published, and distributed by homeless people. Its aim is to guarantee a small income for vendors and help them regain a sense of belonging in the community. Film festivals, art exhibitions, theatre, concerts, and many other cultural activities are also part of the organisation’s annual calendar, helping to raise awareness of the problems faced by participants and the problem of poverty and social exclusion in Greece as a whole.

Player profiles & Stories

Mission statement

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Diogenes NGO is part of an international movement that uses football to fight marginalisation and poverty. They actively pursue social inclusion for all in order to prevent social disintegration across Greece due to the enormous economic difficulties.

Diogenes of Sinope was an Ancient Greek philosopher, who was said to be homeless and believed that virtue was better revealed in action than in theory.

Goals for the future

Programme Development

To set up football academies for homeless children based on a social business model

Sustainability

To turn the football academies for homeless children into a self-sustaining social business

Partnerships

To collaborate more closely with Greek authorities in assisting asylum seekers

Additional information

Partner since

2007

Football Activities

Diogenes NGO run football tournaments, regular weekly training sessions (two per week in Athens, three per week in Volos, and one per week in Thessaloniki), and participation of their team in an amateur league.

Team selection

The organisation select their squad from among regular players, with a focus on those who show the best attitude and would benefit most from the experience. They typically bring a men’s or mixed team, but are hoping to run a women’s programme soon.

Non-football services

They organise film festivals, art exhibitions, theatre, concerts, a street paper, medical support, legal advice, counselling, education, and housing assistance.

Participants challenges

Participants are affected by poverty, substance abuse, and they are often asylum seekers or illegal immigrants.

Organisation challenges

As Diogenes NGO work with asylum seekers and illegal immigrants, they are affected by xenophobic attitudes which have been stirred by the financial crisis.

Country challenges

Greece’s biggest challenge is the ongoing economic and financial crisis. Austerity measures have created a new category of long-term unemployed citizens who increasingly turn to begging. There are also many unregistered immigrants who are often homeless and are subject to xenophobia and racism (HRW, 2012).

Homlessness definition

Homeless people are defined as all persons legally residing in the country that have no access, or have unsafe access to sufficient privately owned, rented, or bestowed housing that meets the required specification, and has basic water services and electricity (Law 4052 of 2012).

Homelessness Statistics

Recent estimates place the total number of homeless people at more than 20,000. The numbers have doubled since 2009, when the crisis began (Klimaka, 2013). In 2011, 3.4 million people were living at risk of poverty and social exclusion (Reuters, 2013).

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