Chicago Teen Starts Soccer Camp For Young Refugees

A Chicago teen is using his Eagle Scout project to give new refugees a chance to make friends during difficult times

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A senior at Chicago’s Walter Payton Prep High School has started a soccer camp for young refugees being assisted by Chicago-based RefugeeOne.

“It’s kind of hard for these people to get adjusted so I think it’s a good social opportunity for the kids,” said Matthew Hansen, 17. “It’s a worldwide game. So many people have connected and can play soccer.”

Many of the refugees left everything behind to come to the United States.

For some, this is their first social activity with others their age in Chicago.

They come here during difficult times.

“It’s especially challenging because when they first arrive they have to quarantine for two weeks. They’re in social isolation,” said RefugeeOne communications and advocacy manager, Jims Porter.

On top of the pandemic, federal funding has been cut and refugee admissions are at historic lows.

“Over the past few years we’ve seen a steep decline in admissions, particularly here in Chicago,” Porter said. “We’ve seen a decline of about 80% of refugee admissions.”

The refugees played in their last tournaments on Friday.

“Soccer is a sport that transcends languages, cultures, and countries,” said Porter.

This was Hansen’s last project to complete to become an Eagle Scout.

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