Tea Eisa, a 41-year-old man from Sudan, spends about approximately two hours a day at the YMCA Thessaloniki football training center in Thessaloniki, depending also on his work schedule.
Having played football in a total of five Sudanese teams and a football referee himself, he voluntarily trains children between the ages of 6 and 17 who love sports and football. His contribution to training involves the application of warm up techniques originated from Africa.
"I started playing football when I was 14 years old. It's something I love and know very well. Passing on this knowledge to children and adolescents makes me feel very good about myself."
Tea trains with about 40 children athletes of the Football Academy of YMCA Thessaloniki.
"The atmosphere is very good, as is my relationship with the children. There is mutual love and respect. I am calm during training and tend to become a little stricter before games," says Tea. “For me, volunteering is also a way to say ‘thank you’ to Greece, which gave me the necessary documents to live and work here. I like the country and the Greek language. At some point, I want to learn Greek and I am confident I will succeed," he adds.
"Giving back to the society is very important to me. Since Greece gave me the opportunity to stay here, I, in turn, want to say a big 'thank you' by offering back."
Tea Eisa, is a recognized refugee and has been enrolled in the EU - funded HELIOS integration program of the International Organization for Migration since February 2021. Today, he works as a cleaner at a school for the blind in Thessaloniki. The initial contact with YMCA Thessaloniki, the start of the voluntary trainings and the job placement was achieved with the support of the employability team of IOM. As part of the counselling sessions that take place at the integration and training center of HELIOS in Thessaloniki, Tea prepared and forwarded his CV to companies and potential employers. He also receives a rent subsidy for the apartment in which he lives.
"My goal and desire is to become part of the society in Thessaloniki in which I have already taken some important steps. My participation in the program, the job and of course the trainings give me the opportunity to get information about the city, something I need", says Tea.
Through the HELIOS program, IOM aims to promote the integration of beneficiaries of international protection in the Greek society through courses on integration, housing support and employment. YMCA Thessaloniki seeks to integrate people from the refugee population in its programs as it believes that it is an excellent means to promote interaction of cultures and mutual acceptance. The IOM HELIOS program is implemented with the support of the European Commission - DG HOME.