It all began with one simple thought: football has the exceptional power to bridge people, languages, and cultures together. We therefore decided to rent an indoor sports hall to regularly meet and kick around with our youngsters and other interested persons. From the beginning, football served as our medium to impart values such as fair play and solidarity. Friendships and networks were quickly sown between people and blossomed over time. PlayTogetherNow is constantly growing, with more and more volunteers contributing to our project.
We began with a simple thought: ‘Football is universal and can change’.
Currently, we have around 30 active volunteers trying to ensure the best future for young refugees. Each brings their own set of skills to the association that has allowed us to be in the position we currently find ourselves in. This is not a given; we are eternally thankful for their continuing help.
Our many volunteers are the heart of this association. Without them we’d not be where we are today.
Our mission has, over time, expanded as well as professionalised itself. We are now pursuing higher goals. Currently, we offer at least five football sessions a week in Vienna and Schwechat for persons who have fled their home countries to play football with us. We also regularly participate in leisurely football tournaments. PlayTogetherNow is in the Viennese DSG Football League since September 2016. We currently have two teams competing in it, which are closely coached and led by engaged trainers. The holistic development of the team and its individual players is paramount. This applies both when on the football pitch, but naturally also off it.
We are not only involved on the green, but also tread on stages that mean the world: enter PlayTogetherNow’s Theatre of Dreams. In this theatre and dance group, the creative potential of our youngsters is nurtured. Young women and men are given the opportunity to appear on stage to showcase their talent. Pieces are worked on and performed in front of enthusiastic audiences together. The first, self-produced, piece of our ensemble was called Mind the Gap. This comedy filled theatres and was a great success. We have another one currently in the works.
From football to theatre. From general recreational events to professional mentoring and coaching.
The newest addition to PlayTogetherNow, which we are very proud of, is communal cooking. One day a month, CookTogetherNow prepares a three-course menu. Each cooking session sees a different regional culinary emphasis. Young refugees cook together with other hobby cooks. Through this social encounter, one can learn from each other and enjoy time well-spent together. Excited guests are invited as well for the evening meal. These cooking sessions ensure several hours of relaxing cooking, during which good food and communal joy take centre stage.
Since our founding, personal mentoring of our youngsters by our engaged volunteers is an essential pillar of our philosophy. We try our utmost to help where help is needed. May there be problems with flat-searching, asylum applications, or in school, we take time to research, calculate figures, and accompany our youngsters to district offices.
In order to professionalise these processes, prospective psychotherapists have joined our ranks in the autumn of 2017. Through official traineeships for the preparatory psychotherapeutic course, we can offer our youngsters, according to their needs, the opportunity to obtain extensive mentoring.
We offer all types of leisurely activities since our founding. We go to museums, concerts, stadiums, and cook with and for each other during festivals. Furthermore, we organise and take part in events and festivals. Our cooperation with national and international partners is fundamental to us. We regularly attend networking meetings and workshops to share practices, experiences, and to integrate new ideas into PlayTogetherNow.