Integration in action at the FC Bayern Campus
The Russian war of aggression on Ukraine, started on 24 February, continues to send shock waves around Europe. Millions of people have been displaced. FC Bayern has been actively involved in helping those in need through donations with its partner SOS Children's Villages worldwide, a joint housing programme with the City of Munich for refugees with disabilities, and its sports support programme "We move together", among other things. Today, on the occasion of World Refugee Day, the example of Bohdan, Dmytro and Artem illustrates how integration is being lived at FC Bayern. The three fled their Ukrainian homeland in mid-March and found a home at the FC Bayern Campus - both athletically and in other respects.
It all happened quickly: just a few days after contacting the FC Bayern Campus scouts, the youngsters were already there. They came to Munich via Poland, carrying only a backpack each, packed with the bare essentials: toothbrush, training gear, football boots. That was all they had at the time - apart from the hope of finding a place to stay with FC Bayern. For how long is not really foreseeable, even three months later. The situation back home doesn't really allow for any predictions.
Bohdan, Dmytro and Artem, all 15 years old, are trying to live their daily lives 1,400 kilometres away from home - and to pursue their dream of becoming professional footballers. Their families have stayed in Ukraine, only Artem was accompanied by his mother and sister, who have now also been given a flat through FC Bayern. Before the war, the three youngsters were being nurtured at the Shakhtar Donetsk Academy, most recently near Kyiv, where the talents had been taken for their safety after the annexation of the Crimea. That was, until things became dangerous in the capital as well. In Ukraine, at the time the three fled, "there was no way to train at all," says Artem. When the opportunity to come to FC Bayern arose, "we accepted immediately," adds Bohdan. "We're very happy to be at the FC Bayern Campus," says Dmytro: "Here we can concentrate on football."
German lessons and training
Since their arrival in Munich, the three youngsters have been extremely focused on sports - so far, they don't want to talk about the reasons for the war or their flight, which is something everyone at the FC Bayern Campus respects. There's an open offer from the educators to take up the topic at any time, but in the first few weeks, the support has consisted of ensuring that their daily routine is as regular as possible. The three share two rooms in the boarding school, have German lessons three times a week and are also very well integrated into the FCB youth players' training programme. Their footballing qualities also helped them to be accepted quickly by their new teammates.
The FC Bayern club magazine "51" took a look over the shoulders of the educators at the FC Bayern Campus as they went about their daily work:
The biggest challenge is communication. Initially, the older goalkeeper Vlad was still there, and his excellent English formed a bridge. He has since returned to Ukraine, and on campus they now communicate with the refugees using their newly learned German, translation programmes on their smartphones, facial expressions, sign and body language, and observation. The three are greatly interested in getting to know FC Bayern and their new adopted home. They were just as quick to take part in bike tours to learn about the history of the German record champions as they were to visit the first team games at the Allianz Arena or take a trip to the FC Bayern Museum. "Munich is a very beautiful city," Bohdan enthuses. "There's a terrific atmosphere here - all three of us are thrilled."
At the inauguration of the memorial of the first FCB stadium in Munich's Schwabing district with the Kurt Landauer Foundation, the trio met president Herbert Hainer - a defining experience. Afterwards, all three were deeply impressed to have even managed to get a photo together with the FC Bayern club boss. It's in moments like these you notice how grateful and humble these boys are. Not always taking everything for granted in life is something that can be learned very well from them.
How things will continue in the long term has not yet been definitively clarified. Athletically and as individuals, all three would fit in at FC Bayern, and they feel comfortable at the FC Bayern Campus. The trio are driven by never being satisfied - and a joy in discovering new things. On campus, everyone tries to give them a sense of home: The three should get the feeling of being a real part of the FC Bayern family. During the Whitsun holidays, they visited their loved ones, at home and on the Polish border. Dmytro let it be known that they were doing well. Bohdan reported on how he was playing football with his siblings and enjoying time with his grandparents. As for what the biggest wish for the future would be, Artem answered with: "I would like to play football at the highest professional level - and that we all live happily and healthily together under a peaceful sky!"
In conjunction with the social services department of the City of Munich, FC Bayern has been organising special housing for refugees with disabilities: