young soccers

details of interview

Role of the Interviewed: amateur football player

Age: 32

Gender: male

Nationality: Pakistani

Type of radicalization: ethnic discrimination, social radicalization

Historical period collocation: 2013

Date/Country of the Interview: 27/09/2018, Greece

Interviewer: Municipality of Evrotas

Municipality of Evrotas

Have you witnessed or experienced personal situations of radicalization during your activity in sport organizations? What kind of radicalizations have you detected? (Gender, politics, religion, racism, crime, homophobia…)

player

I am coming from Pakistan and I legally entered Greece and reside for almost 6 years. Since then I am employed as a worker in farms and crops. I am living in a very small village where we all know each other and the majority of the inhabitants is Greek and has been born here. Especially in the beginning of my stay, I faced and experienced lots of racist incidents and exclusion due to my nationality and skin color and because I was not born in this region and I could not speak the language.

Telling your story. What has happened? How has the story started?

During the first period of my stay, I was living alone here and I had only my job and some friends that I made at work, who are also coming from other countries.
The village has very few things-activities to do at your spare time and only a few places to visit such as recreational facilities. I had plenty of free time after work, so I decided to enroll in a sports club where adults but also children learn how to play amateur football and which organizes amateur tournaments. They placed me in one of the adult teams and I started practicing with the support and guidance of an experienced football coach. Our coach was treating every player, including me, with respect and equally and fairly, however, I was not treated the same by my teammates. All my teammates were behaving formally towards me, especially when the coach was present and when he was absent, most often, they were not even talking to me. During and after break time, the trainings and the tournaments they were always hanging all together but never with me and they were obviously ignoring and avoiding me. Despite the fact that according to our coach I was very good and hardworking football player, they were having a hard time to accept it and cooperate with me. I did not want either to push forward the issue to our coach or to try to approach them and settle things with them.

How did you realize what was going on? What kind of signals could you detect? How do you explain radicalization, referring to your experience?

I felt that I was completely in the wrong place in the world and different from other people, not accepted as I am. I started having questions about myself, about the other people, my teammates, the society. I felt that I was not a member neither of this team, nor of this society. So I was desperately starting seeking to meet people who will have the same thoughts, beliefs and questions. During this period, I just happened to meet the friends of one of the guys I used to work with and we started hanging out and spend our free time together. As time passed, we were having in-depth conversations where I realized that we were sharing the same thoughts, beliefs and feelings. I started feeling that I belong somewhere and that there were people who understand me. They were having and expressing extreme beliefs, thoughts and ideas and they presenting an aggressive behavior towards the rest of the people and society. At some point I also realized that things were going a little weird, so I started discreetly to avoid hanging and going out with them.
Back then I did not exactly realize what was going on and I was just thinking that eventually we were not matching, but now that you explained to me about radicalisation and we are doing this interview, I realize that I was entering the process of radicalisation and how much more they were. I have no experience or knowledge on the topic of radicalisation.

Have you tried to cope with this situation? What was possible to do? What have you done? Have you involved other people/organizations? Who was involved?

I just stopped hanging out with them when I realized that something was going wrong. I don’t know if this was the proper thing to do, or if I should have talked to someone about it. I did not involve anyone else, not even the guy who introduced me to them and with whom I was working with.

Did you feel you had the skills to manage this kind of situations? Which was the most difficult part of it? Have you had any form of support?

I just stopped hanging out with them when I realized that something was going wrong. I don’t know if this was the proper thing to do, or if I should have talked to someone about When I realized that something was going wrong with that group, I did not know what exactly to do. The only solution I had was to start discreetly avoiding them without commenting on their attitude and beliefs, as I was afraid of them and their aggressive behavior. The most difficult part was that I was afraid that they were going to harm me because I left their group.

End of the story. How did the story end up? What have you learned from this personal experience? What would you say to people who are living similar situations?

I learned a lesson from this experience and I realized that everyone should think clearly and rationally and don’t get influenced by anyone. Now I know how to get the others’ respect and I regret that I was involved in that group and situation.

discrimination, isolation and risk of radicalization