Role of the Interviewed: coach / amateur sports team / girls volleyball team
Type of radicalization: social / political radicalization
Historical period collocation: 2017
Date/Country of the Interview: 26/09/2018, Greece
Interviewer: KEAN – Cell of Alternative Youth Activities
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…)
I am a volleyball coach in a local girls’ volleyball team and I have been working as a volleyball coach in amateur sports teams the last 4 years. During these 4 years and depending on my little experience, I have only experienced one incident which I can say that it is pretty much related to radicalization.
Telling your story. What has happened? How has the story started?
The incident happened 1 year ago and concerns one of the girls of the team I was coaching, aged 17 years old and at the last grade of High School. She had been growing up in a single-parent household, raised by her mother since her parents divorced when she was very young and her father was visiting them only once per month. She was quite distant, finding it hard to make friends, she had tensions with her mother and kept saying that she is unfairly treated by everyone and has no future prospects.
She was not accepting any comments, admonitions or advice; on the contrary she was getting angry and aggressive and shouting that I am treating girls unfairly.
Quite frequently she was referring to governments and that they keep lying and cannot do anything to change injustice in the societies.
How did you realize what was going on? What kind of signals could you detect? How do you explain radicalization, referring to your experience?
The rest of her teammates who were quite concerned about her, came at me and freely spoke to me and shared with me the fact that she was asking and searching about teams that act individually in order to defend people’s rights, if such teams exist, where they exist, what they do exactly and how someone can be recruited. In the end they said to me that the more she was reading and searching the more passionate and obsessed she was becoming.
After the confession of the girls, I confirmed my deepest fears.
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?
As I felt that I do not have the skill’s capacity to deal with that situation I called her mother and asked from her to meet me in order to discuss a very important issue. Her mother was quite shocked as she had not realized anything about her daughter’s situation due to financial and other personal problems that she was facing. Despite that, she realized how critical the situation was and she asked for my cooperation and support.
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 felt and I feel that I lack of the skills and knowledge needed to manage those kind of situations. The most difficult part was when I had to speak with her mother as I did not know what I would be dealing with.
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?
After lots of conversations between the mother and the daughter (something I learned from her mother and not from her) she understood a lot of things that before were unclear and confusing into her mind, she felt much closer to her mother, started focusing on her lessons, graduation and future studies and completely forgot about all of these.
She graduated high school and today she is studying at University in another city, where she also joined an amateur sports team.